Breaking down the Redskins-Saints game and latest NFL news

Cindy Boren
Washington Post NFL Editor
Monday, December 7, 2009; 11:00 AM

Post NFL Editor Cindy Boren took your questions about the Redskins-Saints game and discusses results from around the league.

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Cindy Boren: Good morning! Are things any better today? If I were a wagering sort of person, I'd bet the ranch that you'll be clamoring for demands for Shaun Suisham's head -- and foot. What else you got?


Arlington, Va.: It's 10:52, and still no headline that Suisham has been fired. Where is it?

Cindy Boren: Yay, I get to keep my ranch. It's Dec. 7 and, unless you can 1) invent a time machine and 2) put Adam Vinatieri in it to restore his leg to 2002 greatness, you're pretty much outta luck. Unless you want to roll the dice by going kicker-less over the last four. Hmmmm...


Smackton, ME: Hi Cindy, It's the most blunderful time of the year. So who has a better record the last four weeks, the Skins or the Cowboys?

Cindy Boren: I think they'll each win one game, so I believe the technical term for how they'll perform over the last four is "tied." I have no rooting interest, except, as you know, for the Chiefs (which hasn't really been all I'd hoped for for the last, oh, 40 years), so I amuse myself by watching to see which teams are catching fire at this time of year. The Cowboys are that bottle rocket you get on the fourth of July and, when you light it, it goes pfffffft and just sits there and smokes. Then your dad takes it out of the soda bottle and gets a little burn and you learn a new word. That's the Cowboys.


Gainesville, Va.: There's so much to talk about today, but I want to talk about how important Albert Haynsworth is. Without him the Eagles and Cowboys go wild in the running game. With him the Saints running game is totally stifled. Is he playing as well as he did last year when he was all-pro?

Cindy Boren: He's right up there, perhaps a smidge less, but it's very very close. And he played yesterday on a bad ankle. He did go boom onto his bottom and the time it took the Redskins to attend to him seemed to help the Saints, but he's been terrific for the Skins. Do you think Orakpo would be having the season he is having without him?


Reston, VA: Cindy, as if things aren't depressing enough, think of this: two of the maligned second-round picks are playing pretty well now. The ridiculed Sherman Lewis decision appears to be working. Doesn't that give Dan Snyder renewed confidence in Vinny Cerrato, enough to, gulp, keep him around?

Cindy Boren: That's the fear that I hear from Twitterland and on the blog. The idea that this is a playoff roster that's just a player or two away from being a contender is lurking again. I wish I could allay those fears, but that's the monster under the bed. Is it real?


Houston: Jason Campbell -- Redskins QB next year?

Cindy Boren: He's certainly played well of late, hasn't he? The only problem is that he hasn't won a game. I'm not seeing him develop into a leader with what the French call a certain I don't know what. You know how, with some QBs, they come in and you just know they're going to take the team down the field and score (Vince Young, a week ago yesterday)? I haven't had that unshakeable sense yet with Campbell. Maybe it's the last thing to develop, but I think I'm just being charitable because of the holidays. You usually see that first and then the reliability comes in. That said, don't you bring him back next year? Even if you go out and get a QB in the draft, it's going to take time for him to develop. I'd keep Campbell, but I would not break the bank.


Midlothian, Va.: Albert Einstein defined "Insanity" as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

It's been 10 years of "Vinny" as the team's de facto general manager. What are the chances that Dan Snyder will move Vinny Cerato into some other position not associated with the Redskins and hire a legitimate GM?

Cindy Boren: Did you say "Vinsanity?" I would argue that it hasn't been 10 years in its entirety, but that's beside the point. Is it time to boot certain people and then reboot the team in what may be an uncapped year? I'm no good at assessing odds -- if I were I'd be running a Vegas sports book -- but I don't think it's a slam dunk by any means that there's a new football mind making decisions at Redskins Park after the season. I have no idea what the owner is thinking, but he has been tremendously loyal to Cerrato and is extremely close to him. But 3-13 or 4-12 or whatever it turns out to be might force his hand.


Kensington, Md.: Hi Cindy,

Which would you prefer, the Notre Dame job or the soon to be listed Skins head coacjob? Obviously Snyder can be a challenge to work for, but I hear that the Employer at Notre Dame is fairly righteous as well.

Cindy Boren: The employer at Notre Dame isn't physically present for practices and isn't weighing in with his evaluation of talent, so there's that. On the other hand, the Skins' employer does the moolah-not-manna-from-heaven thing and that's nice. I'd have to go with the NFL -- let's face it, all 32 owners can be difficult and demanding to work for. I like the NFL game better and there are fewer openings. Besides, when I inevitably got fired, it would be easier to become a chump pundit with one of the networks.


SE DC: I know I am in a small minority on this, but can't the Skins just leave things alone this offeason? Draft some o-lineman, resign Campbell on the cheap, maybe take a flyer on a late round QB or speedy RB.

But leave the offensive sytem alone, leave Zorn in place (GASP!), and don't pretend that this team is one move away from the Super Bowl.

Winning teams are stable. Being stable doesn't guarantee success, but instability does guarantee failure.

Cindy Boren: Anybody out there who can reassure SE DC? Bueller? Bueller?

Oh, all right. I will. I don't think you're alone by any means. Maybe you're just out in front of a growing trend. Maybe your common-sense approach is the way to go. I have to admit that I am vascillate between your approach and blowing 'er up rill gooooood. (If I do the former, I'd add DBs to your wish list.) It would help to know if next year were uncapped. And ... you sure about that keeping Zorn thing, Sparky?


Marthas Vineyard: The ball clearly came out when Sellers shoulder hit the ground. And whistles were being blown that the play was dead before the Saints player recovered the ball. Why are the WashPost writers ignoring this controversial play and subsequent reversal? And also, the (genius) manipulation of the OT booth review process by Payton calling a timeout. Seems no WaPo writer wants to touch this (as of this writing/posting).

Cindy Boren: You can watch that play 20 times and 10 times you'll feel one way and 10 the other on the call. (Or at least I do.) The video evidence just wasn't conclusive enough for me; the issue, as I saw it, is that the zebras never should have gone to the review. The Redskins should've hustled to get a play off quickly because you knew Payton was going to call a timeout to give the zebras time to go to a review. It's what smart coaches do. It's how they can win you a game. I think Boz touched on the bizarreness of the play and the game in general.


Looking for a Offensive Coordinator, USA: Is Jason Campbell as bad at QB sneaks as he is at sliding? Every time it's 3rd and 1 we run wide and get tackled for a loss when JC just falling forward would get the 1st down. Someone please explain this.

On a side note: I've almost finished defrosting from that game yesterday so I've got that going for me...

Cindy Boren: I don't understand why a guy with his build doesn't sneak the ball more often. The next time I see a stretch play developing or even get the whiff of one, I'm just going to close my eyes. (As for defrosting, there's no such thing as poor weather, only inappropriately dressed people.)


Richmond, VA: Well, at least we are back to playing Norv-ball. You know, play well, find a way to lose, etc.

Cindy Boren: Zornball is now Norvball? Okay. Will we see Martyball?


Secondary: I know people want Suisham's head, but if Laron Landry learns how to not bite on double moves the Saint's might not have 2 touchdowns. What about that other defensive back who had the int near the end of the second quarter and didn't just kneel down with it. He had 7-10 Saint's jerseys in front of him so he wasn't going to score. Kneel down and we take the momentum into halftime.

Cindy Boren: True on that. Landry was an all-America safety in college; he was drafted to play that position. And he's still adapting toree safety. It just isn't natural for him. Had Sean Taylor not died, he and Landry might have been the league's best duo. Now, that doesn't excuse his posing and his chest-beating. As for the other DBs, they have a ways to go.


Baltimore: Re Norv-ball: Based on the way Turner has the Chargers winning, Redskins fans should be so lucky as to have Norv-ball back at FedEx. Of course, he also has Rivers and a rejuvenated Tomlinson.

Cindy Boren: I knew someone was going to point out that Norv's team has won seven in a row and, suddenly, is the team no one wants to see starting the second week of January. (Did you hear Tony Dungy say that they were the team the Colts are fearing? He oughta know.) I don't know if I'd want Norvball back here, but Norvface would be great fun.


Oakton, Va.: I have no clue. I've never seen a team on a hot streak continue to lose. I thought Mike Wise's column today was great. Who knows what the good parts are? I have the feeling we're seeing a lot of young guys who are going to have great careers ... for other teams. Redskins fans are crossing their eyes while getting teased

Cindy Boren: Then, technically, they're not on a hot streak! In CindyWorld (where the streets are paved with gumdrops and all the men look like Johnny Depp), you have to get Ws to be defined as "on a hot streak." The Redskins are hot only if you're playing fantasy fubball. I do agree that it's nearly impossible to know whom to keep and whom to jettison. The Redskins could be a terrific yard sale for the other 31 teams; there could get a real find or two or 20 here. I share that feeling


Herndon, Va.: Ms. B: We'll they're finding new ways to lose. Want to bet against them playing "down" to Oakland's level and losing about 16 -13?

Cindy Boren: Would a Redskins loss next week in Oakland surprise anyone, other than the Raiders fan who is sitting four feet from me?


Durham, NC: Cindy,

What are your thoughts on Jason Campbell performing in clutch situations? Campbell played great yesterday. A number of other people lost that game, and bad officiating was also a factor. However, I'm never very comfortable knowing Campbell is leading a drive at the end of the game, when the Redskins are tied or down one score. His last drive before overtime ended in an interception. Do you think Jason Campbell can be a top ten quarterback and do you trust him to win a game at the end?

Cindy Boren: He's not the guy I'd want leading my team down the field with two minutes left and a big game on the line. I like him; I think he could be that guy in the right situation. But he's no killer. I want a killer, don't you? He has to develop that instinct or be taught it. Maybe once it happens (when his play and the playcalling mesh perfectly) in a big game, the light will go on and he'll discover how very wonderful that feeling is and he'll want nothing more than to replicate it over and over. It's possible.


Rockville, MD.: If you ask me, Campbell and the scheme are the least of our problems. We should definitely keep the QB and some variation of the scheme. From an offensive standpoint, I'd like to see how these players do in the same scheme for three years...Thomas and Davis sure do make it look like we can get something for the older veterans of the same positions.

Cindy Boren: See, SE DC, you're not alone.


Washington, DC: When every week it's someone's fault, no one's fault, everyone's fault - isn't it obvious who is really at fault? The coach? A coach LEADS a team. Finally it seems, minus the secondary, most of the ingredients came together on a seemingly perfect day, and at the end we blow it.

It's the coach, it's the coach, it's the coach.

Cindy Boren: Well, he's certainly part of it. Ever see any fire there? Sure, the Mike Tomlin "unleash hell" speech didn't quite work (he failed only in specificity; he didn't say upon whom his players would unleash hell last week), but wouldn't you love to hear that? Wouldn't you love to hear him say something about the game yesterday that might generate a fine by the league? Just ... something?


College Park, MD: I just read Landry's comments and it sounds like he's trying to claim biting on the double move was somehow part of the defensive play calling. Do you think that makes any sense?

Cindy Boren: No.


Noone From Tampa, Fla.: Maybe Swissham's leg was tired from all the kickoffs and that's why he missed the FG? We scored too many point!

Cindy Boren: Yes, that's it! He was exhausted.


Cleveland Park: What was up with all the Saints fans there was pretty ridiculous.

I'd almost say that it was as many as I've ever seen for a Philly game or even the famous Steelers MNF last year.

Was there any talk of this???

Cindy Boren: Why is it a surprise? There are tons and tons of tix for sale on the interwebs and Saints fans are starting to travel with the team (and are jumping on the bandwagon; this is America's team). There are a lot of Skins fans who are giving their tix away and/or selling them. The Redskins should have been more vigilant and not let in the voodoo guys who hexed the kicker, though. (See Steinberg, Dan.)


New Orleans: What were the primary reasons the Saints struggled? Or was it that the Skins played very well?

Cindy Boren: In no particularly Scott Fujita, DB injuries, Reggie Bush (the biggest bust this side of Desmond Howard. Yeah, I said it. I meant it.), cold weather, a game against a 3-8 team after a huge home game against the Pats, they couldn't hear their plays because they were still deaf from the Monday night game in the dome.


Suisham Must Go: Add kicker to the list of offseason changes. The Redskins would have beaten the Cowboys and the Saints if it were not for Suisham. If this team gets competitive again, we need a kicker who we can depend on in the clutch and this guy has proven he is not the guy. Can we officially add him to the long list of offseason changes?

Cindy Boren: I am confident that kicker will be a position that will be addressed in the offseason.

And, on that note, I must mosey along to listen to Jim Zorn's presser. See you on Twitter and on the blog until next Monday! Thanks, as always, for joining me and for paying attention to the WashPost.


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