The OT: Redskins Postgame Live Chat

The Redskins Writers
of the Washington Post
Sunday, September 27, 2009; 4:00 PM

Welcome to "The OT", the postgame Redskins chat with the Washington Post's Redskins Insiders on the scene at FedEx Field and around the league. Staff writer Paul Tenorio was online immediately after Washington's loss in Detroit on Sunday, Sep. 27 to take all of your questions about the game against the perennial cellar dwellars, Coach Jim Zorn, the team and how the season is shaping up.

A transcript follows

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Silver Spring, Md.: Will Zorn be fired today? Jim Zorn's Job Security (Post User Polls)

Paul Tenorio: Okay, guys. Well no more an appropriate question to start the day off than this one.

It is impossible to know what Owner Daniel Snyder will do after this terrible loss to the Lions -- a team that had not won since Dec. 23, 2007.

My opinion is that this team has a lot of things wrong with it, but none that will be fixed by firing a head coach. The defense allowed the Detroit Lions to go 99 yards on the opening drive and the Lions first three drives started inside the 7-yard line and yet Washington could not get off the field. Is that Zorn's fault.

At the end of the day, though, this team entered the year with high expectations and just lost to the Detroit Lions. Jim Zorn being fired would not surprise anyone.


Gaithersburg, Md.: I think Zorn and Campbell should be cut loose because they are not good enough. Do you?

Paul Tenorio: Why is Campbell getting lumped into all this by the fans? I don't really get it. Was he that bad today? I didn't think so. He had the one interception, but it was on a play in which he was blitzed and the blitzer wasn't picked up, allowing him no time to make a decision.

He moved this team up and down the field when he had the chances, for the most part. Some of the third-down failures were on the receivers for not getting to the first down marker.

But when it comes down to it, I don't know if Zorn is the answer or not. This team obviously isn't getting it done right now, period. Last week the offense couldn't get it done. This week the defense looked bad.


Washington, D.C.: Do you think the team gave up in today's game???

Paul Tenorio: I definitely don't think there was any giving up in this game. They fought back into it and were pushing to the end.

Now, that first half? That looked bad. At times the effort just didn't look like it was there defensively. You have guys on this roster who you can never question for effort and I never will. But sometimes a team can get overmatched in energy -- and with the Lions believing they could end the streak, the Redskins might have just been up against an energy they could not match.


Beaufort, N.C.: Why didn't Ladell Betts run out of bounds??? The lateral play actually worked and he had time to get out with the first down! Is this poor coaching or a dumb play?

Paul Tenorio: What I didn't understand is why Betts didn't make some attempt at lateraling the ball. You've got nothing to lose right there.

But the problems go way beyond some last second play. The Redskins allowed Detroit to convert 80 percent of their third downs in the first half. This is a team that came into the game converting just 30 percent! I'm not sure how much you can put on the offense in the first half of the game, honestly.


Washington, D.C.: Goodbye Zorn- Campbell isn't smart enough to be a quarterbck in the CFL much less NFL. Dispose of both promptly

Paul Tenorio: I disagree with this statement. This is the perfect example of a quarterback shouldering the blame for a team's woes. How was Campbell to blame on a day when the defense couldn't get off the field?

Campbell completed 27 of 41 for 341 and 2 TDs? And you want to question whether he's smart enough to run this team because they lost this game? Sorry, I just don't agree at all.


Washington, D.C.: To the earlier point about Campbell, I think the whole "Ladell on 3rd down" experiment needs to end. Portis is perhaps the best back in the league at picking up the blitz, and you need him in there on third down. On the Redskins last possession, going against three down defensive linemen, they were still getting pressure on Campbell. Overall, Redskins talent level not as great as the players seem to think it is. That's not Zorn's fault.

Paul Tenorio: You do have to look over this roster and just ask if they are as good as they think.

The Redskins offensive line was allowing pressure way too much at times. I thought Stephon Heyer got beat on more than a few occasions. I think the secondary could still use upgrades. The wide receivers -- besides Moss -- still haven't proven themselves.

The idea that this team is built to win right now just doesn't look to be true.


Alexandria, Va.: How effective can a coach be who is looking over his shoulder now? The Redskins need to stop the bleeding regardless of whether the wound heals right away.

Paul Tenorio: Zorn feeling the pressure, you have to look at that first drive going for it on fourth and goal from the one-yard line.

Here's what he just said about that decision:

"There is no way a team can drive 99 yards on us, my thought, and they got it all and took all the way down and scored. I didn't believe that would happen and that's why I did what I did. ... It wasn't a flippant decision. We had the right plays and we thought we could get one yard."

"On the penalty Jason Hanson was in FG range..."


Anonymous: lack of job security for the coach is not a commfortable working inviroment for anyone in any job- and snyders hair raising decision making for coaches and how fast he goes thru them allows one to wonder- is Zorn comfortable enough to be able to get his hands around the team knowing that snyder is trigger happy and ready to eliminate him at any moment- do you feel this effects his performance as a coach?

Paul Tenorio: I do think the environment around the Park does contribute to the type of attitude you're going to have in a work environment.

Here's the thing. I grew up in this area and people have constantly berated Snyder for not having patience with his team and with his coaches. Yet, here we are, three games into the season and it's the fans calling for Zorn's head.

If Zorn goes, this team is getting blown up. The offensive side of the ball will have to be re-done, the personnel will be overhauled next year and you'll see a whole rebuilding process again.

I'm making an attempt to preach patience right now, though it'll probably fall on deaf ears after a loss to Detroit.


Portland, Ore.: When was the last time Zorn had Campbell throw a pump fake to Moss? Zorn doesn't take advantage of Moss's speed at all.

Paul Tenorio: When was the last time you had faith the offensive line could block long enough to allow Campbell to pump and then throw on a deep route, and that Moss would not be double-covered by a high safety because no one on the other side can draw coverage?

Just a thought...


Washington, D.C.: What is the story behind that face mask non-call on Moss? That one call could have changed the course of the game!

Paul Tenorio: It was a huge, huge call no doubt about it. The Redskins drive stays alive if they keep that call -- which we all saw was the right call.

But you can't look at one play when so much went wrong in the game.


Falls Church, Va.: The Redskins should have drafted three offensive lineman in 2008 instead of three receivers. Who made that call?

Paul Tenorio: The Redskins did need a receiver, and you can't blame the front office for grabbing Thomas with that first pick -- some believed he was a top-15 choice. But at least one of the next two choices could've and probably should have been used on a lineman.

The offensive line has needed help for the last couple years. This has been very well documented.


Toronto, Canada: If Dallas does poorly Monday night leaving Wade Phillip's job in jeopardy does Dan Synder beat Jerry to the punch and hire Mike Shanahan?

Paul Tenorio: There's no way you can hire a coach from the outside three weeks into a season. Again, I'm trying to get across the idea that you might want to give a coach and a team more than three games in a season to get things together. Blowing things up, being reactionary, isn't successful very often in football. That we've seen here in D.C. over the last decade.

So why would it work now?


Providence, R.I.: The TV coverage after the game showed several Redskins players smiling and cavorting with Lions players after the game. What does this say about the Redskins' attitude -- that it seems like they weren't too concerned about having just suffered an embarrassing defeat?

Paul Tenorio: For those of you who have ever been on a team, you can relate to the emotions you feel for that team, especially with all the work you put in through practices and the rest.

I don't think any of us are in a place to step forward and say the players don't care. And when you're in the locker room afterward, I can promise you that you get the complete opposite impression. Not to mention talking to players during the week. They care deeply about winning and doing well, at least, from everything I've seen out in Ashburn.


Alexandria, Va.: In retrospect, shouldn't Zorn have kicked field goal instead of going for it on 4th down in the first half?

Paul Tenorio: I did not agree with Zorn's call to go for it at all. It just showed the pressure he was feeling to get this team into the end zone. At the same time, I thought Portis could've done better on the carry. And the "advantage" of having the Lions on their own 1-yard line was immediately wiped out by that encroachment.


Arlington, Va.: Paul,

I think you're misreading what we fans are saying. Sure, we're calling for Zorn's head. But, when you really look at what we're screaming at it's simple - we want the current methods and treatment changed. The Redskins are NOT like any other team where winning cures all. The Redskins are a trust. Snyder has abused us - from ticket prices, to parking, to medling and constantly rebuilding, to treating us like we don't know what's really going on over there.

The players have started to abuse us - Smoot berating us that we don't know how good they are, that rookie yelling at us on twitter. Paul, what you're reading here is a fed-up fan base that is looking for accountability from the team for abusing us.

Paul Tenorio: Look, trust me I understand the frustration in this fan base. I grew up in Alexandria, Virginia. I watched this game today from Mount Vernon in my parents' living room with a group of people dressed in burgundy and gold. I heard every ache and groan throughout the game, and the frustrations of the past few years. What this fan base has gone through in the last decade is not lost on me.

But calling for Zorn's head is the type of reactionary decision that can cause things to continue to spiral out of control. Not fix things.

Should there be frustration with the team? Absolutely. It's been a long time since this team was consistently good. But there are other ways for the fans to get their message to the franchise besides calling for Zorn's head, Campbell's head, etc.


Washington, D.C.: The fans are right that Snyder switches horses in midstream far to quickly. Now, when he probably actually DOES need to switch horses, he won't because of the prior accusation. Firing Schottenheimer after that first 8-8 season was outrageous. But Zorn clearly hasn't coached this team well.

Paul Tenorio: Maybe so. Maybe he hasn't done much to earn the faith of this fan base, or this team. And maybe I'm wrong to say you shouldn't be calling for his head. But how much better will this team be if you fire a head coach three games into a season?

I just don't know how much that fixes.


Washington, D.C.: Wasn't Mike Singletary hired from the outside midseason last year? He used the partial year to begin turning things around in San Francisco. Sure, it is giving up on the season. But who cares? Let's be real -- if we can't beat Detroit it's not like we're giving up a deep playoff run here.

Paul Tenorio: No, Singletary was an assistant with San Francisco when he was hired. And he was hired in late October. So maybe Zorn gets one or two more weeks?


Apologist, USA: Paul - you seem to be a Redskins apologist across the board, I agree with the patience call - but come on, when they paly like they did today, they deserved to lose. Can you admit that,, they played poorly, and were poorly coached today.

Paul Tenorio: Absolutely they deserve to lose. I'm not questioning the fact that the Redskins were bad today. I'm just pointing out that they were bad in areas other than what people are talking about.

Campbell wasn't horrible. The defense was terrible and couldn't get the Lions off the field. The offensive line looked like it was struggling to pass block. There were times when the Redskins made horrible decisions. I disagreed with both of Zorn's decisions in the first quarter -- to go for it and to accept the penalty.

There's no doubt the Redskins got outplayed today. Plain and simple they were outplayed by a team that had not won since 2007.


Tampa, Fla.: I completely agree with your statements about this loss not being on Campbell. This interesting thing is that there really was no one on whom you can really blame this. They just staight beat us. I guess the defense played poorly and the offensive line wasn't great, but the issues are deeper than that.

Most teams, in most sports, need to get pretty bad before they can get good. The Redskins' philosophy just isn't letting them do that. Consequently, we just remain very average all the time. I hope they don't fire Zorn. It's not like this is all his fault and all of a sudden the team will turn around if he's gone. Thoughts?

Paul Tenorio: I agree with what you have to say here. But let me clarify what I think the frustration is about. It's that this fan base has been expecting this team to get better for years now. These types of games against teams like the Lions should never be in doubt. And neither should wins over the Rams, thus the boos.

The patience for the team to grow is gone, and rightfully so. They've been waiting for the team to grow since Gibbs I era ended.

This team just isn't very good right now, and I think we all saw that today. They have a lot to fix, on defense and offense. You can't look at any area on this team and say the Redskins couldn't get better.


Anonymous: Mine is not a question but more of an observation. I have been and continue to be an avid Redskin fan. However, there comes a point where one has to be able to fairly evaluate a team, fan or not. Last week against St. Louis the Redskins did not look like a good team, this week they proved it! I'm tired of watching sub-professional level football from this team. Normally, I don't blame the coaches. However, in this case both the players and coaches are failing at their jobs. It's time for changes, time to bring in a group of true achievers. Mr. Snyder has spent alot of money with not much to show for it as of yet. It's time to get the right combination of coaches and players together!

Thank you.

Paul Tenorio: The more of this I read, the more you have to consider this thought. The Redskins aren't very good right now, and the responsibility falls on the coaches to put a team out there that can perform and perform well.

Should Zorn be held responsible for his team's failures on the field in the last two weeks? Absolutely. I'm not arguing that.


Mosul, Iraq: Why does this hurt soooo bad?

Paul Tenorio: I think this question is the best way to sum it up. And I'll try to sum up the way you (through your questions/comments) and I feel about what happened today.

The Redskins are not a good football team. They proved that this week against a Lions team that they should be able to beat and beat easily. Instead they got pushed around. The defense looked terrible. The offensive line was not great. The offense still failed to convert on third down and on a fourth and one in the red zone. The Redskins have room to improve just about everywhere. It's a performance that is not rare for Washington -- at least not in the past decade. They've been mediocre for a long, long time, and you can never count a game as a sure win.

That constant mediocrity has a fan base fed up and looking for someone to be held responsible. From what you all have written in, Zorn needs to be the first to go. His team isn't performing -- and most importantly his offense continues to struggle.

A loss to the Lions shows just how far this team is from being ready to win right now. And it looks like the Redskins are in for a long, long year. We'll see what happens and how much longer Zorn stays as head coach. I think we're all on Coach Watch right now, though.


Atlanta: Don't have a question, just a statement. A football team is a reflection of their coach. Zorn has lost this team. I cannot believe they believe in his philosophy or his approach. At times he seems he is over his head at the expense of the players. Snyder needs to be held accountable for his decision to hire this guy, and his revolving door of coaches. As a long time fan it pains me to see such a lackluster performance to a inferior team. He has to go, now before later. This season is done. I am not piling on, I will watch every game and cheer. As a fan, all I want to see is a superior effort, and coaches putting players in a good position. Right now, neither is happening.

Paul Tenorio: I think this sums up pretty well how everyone that wrote in feels ... thanks for another chat.


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