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Redskins Insider: Previewing the Oakland game

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Paul Tenorio
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 10, 2009; 12:00 PM

Washington Post staff writer Paul Tenorio was online to discuss the Redskins and how they match up with the Raiders.

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Redskins Insider Blog

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Miami, Fla.: Lets say you were forced to take a side on a bet. Would you bet that Vinnie Cerrato is still VPOFO next year, or not?

Paul Tenorio: Good afternoon, everyone. What better way to get through a Friday than to talk a little Redskins. Even if they are 3-9.

We'll start here, with Vinny Cerrato and the future of the Redskins front office.

On one of the Redskins podcasts a few weeks ago, I argued that one of the positives of this season, at least in the minds of many Redskins fans, was that a three-win season would likely cause owner Dan Snyder to do what he had avoided doing for so long: blow this whole thing up.

Every year the Redskins are so close to a playoff spot, or to advancing in the playoffs and the argument is that they are just one player away here or there. Maybe if the Redskins won just three games they would be forced to re-evaluate. Now, however, with the offense showing life behind Sherm Lewis, who Vinny Cerrato hired, and with reports that Cerrato and Snyder have gone to scout college QBs Jimmy Clausen and Colt McCoy (I'm sure we'll delve more into this later), I think right now you have to believe that yes, Vinny Cerrato will be back next year.

Prepare accordingly.

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Vienna, Va.: Paul,

The new kicker, Gourdo, Gouda, whatever just walked into the lion's mouth. I'm gonna say now his former gig was a lot better than what he's walking into.

Paul Tenorio: I dunno about that one. If your former gig is unemployment, and you're walking into a three-year deal (okay, it's not REALLY a three-year guarantee, but still) that pays you a ton of money and gives you a chance to nail down an NFL job for a franchise that has been looking for a franchise kicker...nah, I think he'd rather be here...three wins or not.

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Washington, DC: Is there any chance the Skins get punished for their GM interviewing a college student and potential draft pick on the radio? I mean, would he be allowed to contact Clausen as the GM of the Redskins in private? Should there be a difference?

Paul Tenorio: No idea what the rules are here. It's something that's definitely interesting, but we'd have to look into the exact language of the rules to see what is and is not allowed, but I'm sure the Redskins double-checked with the NFL before they did the interview.

I'll tell you what I do know: it was really, really bizarre. This can't be happening at other NFL franchises, can it? Especially at ones with a history like this one...

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Reston, Va.: Any chance that the rumored scouting of Colt McCoy and Clauson are red herrings? Just getting the media to rant about something that they're not seriously considering?

If it is true that they're looking to draft a QB, what does that mean for Colt Brennan?

Paul Tenorio: No, I don't think Cerrato and the Redskins are scouting potential first-round quarterbacks to fool opponents or start draft posturing yet. Let's be honest, the Redskins have identified quarterback as an area of need for a while now. They chased Cutler and Sanchez in the offseason (how'd they turn out so far) and it certainly seems as if they're leaning toward a QB in the first round.

Of course, you look at how Campbell is playing and you think...if this team really wants to fix things, if they are really willing to rebuild, wouldn't Campbell at least be the perfect guy to run the show while you build things up around him? Draft o-linemen (several), find a running back, maybe go get a big-time receiver, shore up defensive depth. One or two years, if Campbell isn't WINNING games but you've actually built a base of a real team, then you can bring in another guy. Or you can draft one next year after you shore up the o-line and let him sit and learn for a season.

I just don't get how you can place QB as No. 1 on the 'Needs' list right now. So short-sighted and too much of a quick-fix point of view.

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Coral Springs, FL: Do you think if the team continues to show progress there is a remote shot of Zorn returning next season? (personally I hope not, though he seems like a very nice guy) or has that ship completely sailed?

Paul Tenorio: Mike Wise made that argument in the press box and in his column after the Saints game and it's certainly an easier argument to make now than it was a few weeks ago. But no, I think the belief is that Zorn will be gone and Snyder will go after one of the big names.

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NW, dc: I think we need to all need to applaud the Bingo caller. I also think Sherm Smith was apparently undervalued or under utilized prior to Sherm Lewis coming in. No matter how you slice it, they have improved on offense. So the question is, does Sherm Lewis stay as the offensive coordinator next year no matter who or what is the new regime?

Paul Tenorio: Yes, the offense has looked better under Sherm Lewis but the answers to those questions are big unknowns. Lewis hasn't talked since that first interview and he would be the only one that could really answer questions about what he's been told regarding his future. Until he talks, you'd have to expect answers from Cerrato.

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Alexandria, VA : Honestly, how many owners in the NFL go on scouting trips? More of the same is coming!

Paul Tenorio: I think what's worrisome to some people is that it is a situation where an owner thinks he can scout, and as former coach Marty Schottenheimer said (from Dan Steinberg's Sports Bog)

"When you send Dan [Snyder] out along with Vinny Cerrato, Vinny's going to tell him whatever he thinks Dan wants to hear," Schottenheimer said Thursday on "The Red Zone," the SIRIUS NFL show he hosts along with Solomon Wilcots. "Dan, God love him, I don't know that the analysis and evaluation of quarterbacks is necessarily down his alley."

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Alexandria, VA: Out with Clinton, in with Quinton?

Paul Tenorio: Ha. I don't know about that. Ganther has shown better burst this season than Portis did, but I don't know if you look at him as the answer at running back. The position is definitely another major need for the Redskins, and another position they have ignored in the draft, as Rick Maese wrote about the other day.

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Del Ray, Va.: 3-9 vs. 4-8 Not exactly a clash of the titans. Half the players will be trying not to get injured and the other half will be playing to stay employed. Please suggest a new drinking game. First team to go for it on 4th down? First team to run out of timeouts? Drink every time the announcers mention "playing for pride"?

Paul Tenorio: Hm, good question. First of all, I think both these teams will be playing hard -- maybe with a few exceptions. Some of these guys are playing for jobs or to prove they are worthy of starting roles (see: Thomas, Devin; Campbell, Jason)...

As for the drinking games, I like the playing for pride one. I also think there are some key words about the dysfunction in both of these franchises. Regardless, you have to have already installed something to cover every time the broadcast talks about the 'Skins playcalling situation.

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Hilliard, OH: How many draft picks do the Redskins have next year and will they be smart enough to use the first three on O-linemen? Also, why don't we hear about Colt Brennan anymore or have the Redskins completely given up on him? Do you see any scenario where Campbell returns?

Paul Tenorio: The Redskins currently have five of their seven picks as of right now. They used their third-rounder to select DE Jeremy Jarmon in the supplemental draft and they also traded their sixth-rounder for Miami DE Jason Taylor, now playing for...Miami. (Boy, that was a good move, huh?)

Do I think they will go o-line? No. Should they? Yes. I see this team going with a quarterback early and I really wouldn't even be surprised to see them take a running back after that before they take a lineman. I just don't know if they go about drafts the right way at all. The history proves they don't value linemen as much. Period.

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Philly, PA: Who do you think will get the majority of the carries for the Skins? Ganther is the starter, but does that mean he's the main guy? I don't get that sense...

Paul Tenorio: I think the Redskins will continue to use a rotation as they have in the past weeks, but I definitely would not be surprised to see Ganther get the bulk of the carries. He's shown a good burst, has hit holes hard and has the potential to make people miss. Right now I think he's the Redskins best option back there.

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The Villages, Florida: About a new coach, Cower indicated two years ago that Dan Snyder & he could not work together. I saw a report that said Mike Shanahan would go to Dallas before the SKINS if that job was open, Gruden is at ESPN and Holmgren to Seattle, what big name are we talking about. Maybe Dungy, but he seems happy. Weiss with Clausen? I think not.

Paul Tenorio: First of all, to all those big names that would go here rather than there...let's not forget what money can do. Wasn't it Marty Schottenheimer that said he could never work for Snyder? 10 million dollar later that wasn't the case.

They'll look for the big names and I don't think any are out the window. Shanahan has a good relationship with Cerrato, though he might want full control. The key with the name guys are that many will want control over the team's operations. Will Snyder be willing to part with Cerrato and hand the keys over to a coach? Or to another GM?

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No Hope, USA: My first words as a baby were 'hail to the redskins'...my family has had season tix for nearly 50 years....get where I am coming from....BIG fan here. Having said that, I am at the end of my rope with this team/ownership. If Vinny IS back next year, could it be with help - like another GM type that actually knows what he is doing? If their front office is not set up for success by the time spring rolls around, I will be finally dumping my tix (hard for me to write).

Paul Tenorio: I don't think it really makes sense for Cerrato to stick around if they hire another GM, but you never know. Not sure if there would be many other jobs out there for him.

My instinct right now says the front office stays the way it is.

I guess that would mean I'm basically saying to enjoy these last few games at FedEx? At least you get a Monday nighter with the Giants and a Cowboys game. Not the worst way to go out.

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Chicago: The consensus in DC this summer was that if the Nationals didn't sign #1 Strasburg, the hard-core fan base would revolt.

Do you see the same thing happening with the Skins if they pick a QB in the frst round? Any chance that such a shortsighted move, as you call it, will provoke a final revolt from the fans?

Paul Tenorio: I don't know about that. There were so many instances this season where Skins fans threatened a full revolt. Last Sunday against the Saints, the team broke into DE-FENSE chats and stood and sang Hail to the Redskins.

The loyalty of this fan base far exceeds that of the Nationals, and it'll take a lot to peel them away from the team and the stadium. For that reason, the Redskins will probably be able to get away with whatever they choose when it comes to draft and free agency decisions when it comes to fan reaction/ticket purchasing.

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Bend, Ore.: I think the decision on whether to keep Campbell might depend on his value in the eyes of other teams. I figure they'll tender him and then entertain trade offers. If they get a high draft choice (2nd or 3rd) they'll trade him, if not he stays for another year.

What do you think the interest will be from other teams on Campbell?

Paul Tenorio: I don't know if too many teams would be jumping at trading for Campbell when they know the Redskins might be more interested in releasing him than keeping him around for another year.

That being said, if the Redskins cut Campbell loose I see several teams bringing him in...and not as a back up. Furthermore, behind a legit o-line and with some weapons around him I think Campbell could go somewhere else and succeed right away. I guess you can tell which side I'm on in the JC argument.

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Herndon, Va.: After watching the Steelers and Browns last night, the folks in Pittsburgh can now understand what happens when your O-Line doesn't protect. Even Roethlesberger looked pretty lame when he only had 2 seconds to read and throw!

Paul Tenorio: It's true. Pass protection makes a huge difference and the Super Bowl champs are showing that in the last month-plus. For Redskins fans who argue Campbell is still to blame despite the pass protection, then cite Aaron Rodgers...I say just take a look at the Steelers last night, look at the Redskins the past few years and understand Rodgers sack numbers go beyond poor offensive line play, at least from what I've seen and read.

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Olney, MD: What is the league thinking? Why are games which are played in non-domed northern stadiums ever played at night anytime after mid-November? It's bad enough playing those games in the daytime when it's as warm as it will get, but night is just stupid. I don't know how the players could hold onto the ball at all. There are enough venues in the south or in domes to take care of the desire for night games. Don't make Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Green Bay, New York, New England, Philadelphia, etc, play at night in the late autumn or winter. Please.

Paul Tenorio: Man, it looked cold, huh? I felt for my buddy JLa when I saw him tweeting about how cold it was earlier in the night.

I dunno, isn't there that old-school football feel to some of those games, though? And it's at every level. I watched a high school football game last week where a kid carried the ball 14 out of 16 plays on a drive in 35 degree whether with a kicking wind chill, in the rain, and said he couldn't feel his hands at all during the fourth quarter. Every time he hit the ground you cringed.

It's part of football. As much as it looks terrible, you have to love it on some levels.

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Glen Allen, VA: A fair number of media people make at least part of their living writing or talking about the Redskins (TV, Radio, Print, Internet). Does a season like this make them question what they have chosen to do for a career in any way?

Paul Tenorio: This question made me laugh out loud. Not for me, no. I grew up in Alexandria, Va., hoping to one day cover the Redskins for the Washington Post. I feel lucky every day.

Does it make it tougher in the locker room the Mondays after games and right after they lose? Sure. Some days earlier in the year were bad. Open locker room would feature maybe one or two players. Still, covering the NFL for a living isn't something I think anyone really complains too much about.

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Centreville, VA: Paul, I'm really upset with the coaches. I understand releasing Suisham but the least they could have done is bench Landry. For as much as you can blame the kicker; there is a complete body of blame that you can heap on Landry. He didn't just blow two TDs against the Saints, but go back to the Atlanta game when RB Turner just ran through is soft arm tackles and shoulder whiffs on his way into the end zone. It is a recurring theme and I think if I were the coach, Landry would ride the pine and watch Doughtey and Moore play safety for a couple series to get a point across. Your thoughts?

Paul Tenorio: The Redskins were asked why Landry was not benched for being beat on double moves so much when Carlos Rogers was. The explanation was basically that they needed Landry to go out there and show he is learning what it takes to play free safety.

I, maybe too often, have been an advocate for the Redskins finding a legit free safety this offseason and letting Landry play his natural position of strong safety. When Landry is asked about it, though, he says he can play either place.

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Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.: Isn't it really premature to talk about the draft before we know who the next coach is going to be? Speaking of which, at what point does 'lil Danny let Zorn know he's moving on. Sometime this month or just wait out the final 4 weeks?

Paul Tenorio: I don't know. A team's needs are a team's needs. Any coach that comes in is going to need an offensive line that can play. They're going to need a legit running back. Those are must-haves.

At this point, you have to believe a move won't be made on the coaching front until the season is over.

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Rockville, MD.: Paul - I really like Jason Campbell. He is such a professional and a pretty good ball player. I don't know him personally but from what I have seen of him, I really like him. With that said a part of me hopes he moves on from D.C. I want to see him successful and I just don't see that happening here.

How sad is it that a fan of a franchise roots for decent people to leave?

Paul Tenorio: Just another example of what's been happening to the fan base this season. At the same time, when you see the team so blatantly search for his replacement it's hard not to end up feeling the way you do.

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Mechanicsville, VA: Detriot Lions, Cleveland Browns, Oakland Raiders. How are the Washington Redskins any different from these sorry franchises? The Redskins used to consider themselves among the elite, now they are a joke. Who really cares about the next game anymore this season, what difference does it really make if they win or lose, aside from draft position.

Paul Tenorio: The idea that the Redskins are not right up there among those teams isn't far-fetched at all. The Redskins have had moderate success here and there (the two playoff seasons under Gibbs, for example) but the constant mediocrity certainly has removed this franchise from being considered among the elite of the NFL in any other way than how much money they make.

If that's the goal of the Redskins, to be the top money makers, then they should be fine with things. If not, eventually changes are going to have to happen, right?

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Denver: Any chance Sherm Lewis gets bumped up to head coach after Zorn is let go?

Paul Tenorio: No idea. He doesn't seem like the ideal candidate. Up there in age, retired a few years ago, etc. The Redskins should be looking for a coach that can come in here and turn things around and solidify a job that has been in flux basically since Snyder fired Norv Turner at the beginning of his ownership.

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Dupont Circle: The improvement in the Skins offense is not the result of Sherman Lewis's genius; play-calling was never the problem. The offense is better because of the absence of Portis and the addition of Levi Jones. Period. It's amazing how much better a career special teams player and a guy the Skins picked up off the street have been in comparison to Portis. More yards gained on the ground and better protection for the QB have jump-started the offense, and it started in Atlanta. Your thoughts?

Paul Tenorio: Improved offensive line play is one thing, but a lot of that comes through the adjustment in game-planning done by Jim Zorn, who basically has taken out all seven-step drops in order to give the Jason Campbell a chance to succeed.

In the first couple weeks you could point to the running game as helping out, but I don't believe the Redskins have rushed for more than 87 yards as a team in the last three weeks...

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Paul Tenorio: Thanks for joining on the chat today guys. The Redskins are headed to the West Coast to take on a Raiders team that has pulled off a couple upsets in the last few weeks (does that Pittsburgh win look as good now, though?) and it's definitely no longer a sure thing that Washington pulls out a win.

Things I'll be watching: Does DHall play against his former team? Will the offense continue to show improvement? Can the defense, specifically LaRon Landry, do better to prevent the big play.

I'll be back here after the game on Sunday to chat with you guys. Enjoy your weekends and I'll see you then.

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