Discuss the Redskins-Cowboys results and latest NFL news

Cindy Boren
Washington Post NFL Editor
Monday, December 28, 2009; 11:00 AM

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


Cindy Boren: Hello and welcome to Week 17...I know you've suffered and been tested this season so I'll try to make this place the chat equivalent of the bouncy-ball pen for the kiddies at McDonald's. What a season. Let the bouncing begin.


Washington, DC: Cindy: The Caps, Penguins, Patriots, Colts, Chargers, and Phillies 'got bad to get good.' The Redskins are bad but seem to think they are good. Is there any chance this team will address the reality that they are bad, rip what structure exists apart, and follow the franchise building blue-prints (that have proved successful) of teams like the Caps, Penguins, Patriots, Colts, Chargers, and Phillies or will they, maddeningly, continue to follow the Yankees and Red Sox models? Models which as is proven by the Redskins' record, do not seem to be working. Or, have I simply asked the billion dollar, future of the franchise question that everyone but Redskins' management seems to recognize?

Cindy Boren: Why does this never happen with my Cheeves???? They get bad only to get worse! Sorry, I forgot that this is about you and not me. Let's see who the new coach is, but don't you get the sense that he and Bruce Allen will look at the roster, determine who's worth keeping and who isn't, and make their moves? (Will any of their moves be painful? Would you feel bad for anyone now, given this mess?) Even in an uncapped year, I don't know that they'll be able to turn it around in one season, but you have to think there's going to be a sensible approach to a solid roster that wins for the long-term. Unless, of course, the owner intervenes...and then we're back here in the bouncy pen.


Silver Spring, Md.: How did the Redskins end up on prime time national television twice in a row at the end of the season? I thought there was flex scheduling. The NFL needs to apologize to the football watching public for putting on the sorry Redskins twice in a week. We in the DC area have to watch this sorry team, but the rest of America shouldn't be forced to watch them.

Cindy Boren: This is going to hurt and I apologize in advance: the Dallas Cowboys remain a draw for a national TV audience, especially when they're in the hunt for a playoff berth and could -- at any moment -- become completely discombobulated. Nuthin' but eyeballs there if the wheels start flying like a NASCAR wreck. That said, I cannot wait to see the ratings numbers on that puppy last night. I talked to one fan who said he was still watching to the end, but he was clicking around. Prime-time, outscored 62-12.


Houston: So, six minutes and 11 seconds left, down by three scores, 4th and 11 and you punt?

What do you think Zorn and Campbell were discussing after Campbell came off the field? Was Jason explaining maths to the Zornster?

Cindy Boren: One thing I'm going to miss with Zorn and this season on the stink: that jaw-dropping moment when you're just stunned into silence (those of you not in a workplace might have been stunned into profanity; hope the kiddies were wearing earmuffs). The punt was it last night. I was hoping for some sort of fake-eroo, lonesome polecat, dancing bear swinging gate tackle-eligible trickery, but it was just a punt. So unimaginative it was sad. A really stupid gesture on someone's part was called for: like a wrongway TD. Something entertaining and idiotically different. Oh, well. As for the Zorn-Campbell conversation, tell me you weren't thinking of the mound conference in "Bull Durham." "Candlesticks make a nice gift."


Fort Benning, Ga.: As Cris Collingsworth correctly and consistently pointed out, our safeties were playing way off the line of scrimmage, and Romo never failed to take advantage. What in the wide, wide world of sports is going on with Jerry Gray and Greg Blache?

Cindy Boren: One of them appears to have already hung up the "Gone Huntin'" sign. The other appears to have hung up the "Gone Huntin' for a New Job" sign. Very weird but, as you may have noticed over the weekend, the defense seems distracted (see: Albert Haynesworth quotes of Dec. 26).


gulp!: New GM in. Yet, assistant coach interviewed for head job, even though the top guy is still in the building. Yet, Portis publicly endorses next, probable hire. Yet, Haynesworth essentially says it's him or Blache, you choose.

Nothing has changed? Or will real change come with the new coach?

Cindy Boren: Real change will come with the next coach, particularly if it's a big name (and you know it will be). It'll be interesting to see how the new Big Name deals with coddled and empowered stars with ginormous contracts. Someone tweeted yesterday: Will Mike Shanahan trade Clinton Portis for Champ Bailey? You guys know the drill: the season starts now.


disheartened: I want so much to believe in Jason, because of his courage and dignity. But last night, when Collinsworth pointed out his failure to pick up a simple blitz read, the air went out of the balloon. Maybe Jason really isn't as good as I've been hoping? Your take?

Cindy Boren: He isn't as good as you've been hoping, I'm sorry to say. That doesn't mean he wouldn't be a serviceable QB for somebody. I know he's been banged up and you'd find it a wee tiny tad bit difficult to concentrate if you were playing behind that offensive line (the Oh! line). As Collinsworth rightly pointed out, he wasn't making smart decisions, but the guy is made of some space-age polymer. Did you see the hit in the small of the back??? A QB who can stay healthy is of some value in the league.


An aside on editorial matters...: Washingtonpost.com needs some more prominent links to your blogs. If I don't use the tiny little Blogs link, it's hard to find Steinberg or Maske et al.

Cindy Boren: I'll get right on that.


Crossville, TN: Oh Cindy, Oh: What are we gonna do? Such a miserable showing from our team. I see Jim Zorn put his arm around JC and talk with him. I think maybe he could stay as a QB coach, because he sure isn't an Offensive Coordinator, much less a head coach. Obviously the head office saw that too. He didn't even speak with his defensive coordinator (least not as you could see) whereas other coaches have. Square peg, round hole. But then I see JC and I even wonder if Zorn would be a good QB coach. What do you think?

Cindy Boren: He might maybe could be a QB coach, but he can't stay here. The Big Name is gonna want his people (especially if there's a QB coach in the league who just so happens to be the Big Name's Spawn). Zorn's a classy guy, but I don't think it's in anybody's best interest for keep the former coach around. I think he might like Cleveland.


Oblivion: What do the following teams have in common?

1. Washington Redskins
2. Washington Senators
3. St. Louis Browns
4. Philadelphia Athletics
5. Brooklyn Dodgers
6. Hartford Whalers
7. Quebec Nordiques
8. Dallas Texans
9. Montreal Expos

That's right eight of them don't exist anymore. Teams that either moved on to better digs or went under altogether. And none are missed.


Good session this morning. Thanks.

Cindy Boren: Hey, lay off the Whalers!!!!!! They won a Cup. Sure, they're somebody else, but still...did you know I can sing the Hartford Whalers' fight song? Did you know they had either 1) fight or 2) a song? Are you saying the Redskins will cease to exist? Do you have any idea the kind of cataclysmic event that would have to occur for one of the most valuable sports franchises in the world to cease to exist? The notion is mind-blowing. Eek. I'm now very frightened and yet intrigued by the web traffic we could do.


Odenton, Md.: They quit on us. Why should we not quit on them?

Cindy Boren: They did, I would agree and I know how you feel. But you can't quit until I quit on the Cheeves. Has your team won a Super Bowl more recently than 40 years ago??? So you cannot quit.


Arlington, Va.: This team is SO hard to watch.

I feel bad for Zorn (I know, I'm the charitable type). What happens to him after he's fired? Will he still be able to have some kind of career in the NFL? Or is the whole league pointing and laughing at him?

(Oh, and I thought it was funny how Michaels and Collinsworth kept sounding like they were giving his obituary. "Zorn really is a nice guy." "Jim Zorn has shown a lot of composure this year." Etc.)

Cindy Boren: Fortunately, you have only 60 minutes of Redskins fubball left to watch. Zorn is deserving of every nice-guy testamonial. But nice guys finish ... well, maybe they finish up in Cleveland with Mike Holmgren.


Fairfax, Va.: Cindy, last night I swear I could hear Bruce Allen thinking "I'm too old for this. I could be retired on the beach in sunny Hawaii." What do you think is going through his mind as he watches from the owners box his new team and what moves he anticipates making starting with O-Line?

Cindy Boren: Oh, don't you think Bruce Allen knew EXACTLY what he was getting into? He's no chimp; he knows that the franchise he grew up loving and living with is a mess. And I'll wager that he's even noticed the problems of the Oh! line. He is, first and foremost, a fubball guy. It's going to be interesting to see what he and the Big Name can do, what the owner lets them do. The pros are in charge now...or soon will be.


Silver Spring: If Snyder's handling of the interview process to comply with the Rooney Rule was as Collinsworth and Michaels said it was last night, Danny is even slimier that I thought.

Cindy Boren: The Rooney Rule is a valuable and necessary commodity. It has helped to increase the number of minority hires. That said, there are times when you wonder about the rules and you are reminded that the NFL is a closely-held company. Tampering, with quick signings shortly after free agency kicks in, comes to mind; so does the announcement of the hiring of a GM 114 minutes after the announcement of the exit of the previous guy. In the matter of tampering, charges are levied; the NFL investigates; and issues its findings. In the matter of minority hiring, the Fritz Pollard Alliance is the group reporters turn to for answers. If the alliance is satisfied, that doesn't mean the process is clean, it just means that the guys who are charged with throwing a fit if the rules aren't complied with are cool with the situation. There's a ton of he said; he said and it's incredibly difficult to get to the bottom of what happened. And the end result is something that looks unseemly.


Rockville: Just give the team to Albert Haynesworth. Let that cover his contract and he can name the team or stadium or both after himself. Then see what happens. Call it the next reality show.

Cindy Boren: That actually would be kind of fun.


Re-Oblivion: Anyone who thinks the Brooklyn Dodgers aren't missed probably has never been to Brooklyn.

Cindy Boren: Oh, God. Doris Kearns Goodwin is gonna write another book about it, isn't she?


Crewe, Va.: Do you and your folks at The Post know for a fact that Shanahan coming to the Skins is a done deal? Does anyone realize that this guy, whatever his assets, did not exactly knock the doors down in Denver once Elway retired?

Cindy Boren: Only three people know who the new coach will be: Daniel Snyder, Bruce Allen and, presumably, the Big Name. When the identity of the new dude can be confirmed, we will report it. And you raise a terrific point about Shanahan and Elway: we have indeed noticed that and discussed it at length. If Cowher is ready to jump back into coaching, would you rather have him or Shanahan? I think I'd go with Cowher.


Let the bouncing begin.: It's already started, Cindy. They bounced Vinny, remember? Now they need to bounce Zorn, the Shermans, Greg (I have no comment) Blache, Jerry (knife in the back) Gray, Haynesworth, Portis, Landry, Randle-El, etc.

Cindy Boren: Don't you have to keep Haynesworth? Otherwise, yes, the bouncing begins soon.


SE DC: Here's a list:

  • Flores
  • Ditka
  • Parcells
  • Seifert
  • Parcells
  • Holmgren
  • Parcells
  • Johnson
  • Gibbs
  • Vermeil

Wonderful coaches, all of them. Other than Flores and maybe Ditka, they all improved the teams they took up in the second (or third, or fourth) go around. But none of them won another Super Bowl.

So, for a question: what do you think Snyder's goal is? Does he want Shanahan to bring the Skins back to respectability, or does he want to win a Super Bowl?

Cindy Boren: Vermeil won a Supe on his second team, not his first, but let's not quibble about that. Doesn't there have to be some fundamental understanding by Snyder that 1) respectability comes first then 2) Supes? Isn't that what the hiring of Bruce Allen is about?


McDonough, GA (aka The Heart of Darkness): In the humane interest of saving Jason Campbell from possible debilitating injury or death, might Norv Turner be willing to loan a couple of his reserve offensive linemen to the Redskins for just this game?

Cindy Boren: Maybe once he's up 52-0, Norv might do that.


Anonymous: How long does it take to turn around an offensive line?

Cindy Boren: One good draft pick, a la Chris Samuels, and then smart drafting in the later rounds...You can make strides in one draft, especially if you're starting from whatever is lower than ground zero.


Huntsville, AL: Hola Cindy,

Skins should pick-up Rolando McClain from the University of Alabama in the draft. What do you think?

Cindy Boren: Honestly, I haven't even started looking at the draft and thinking about that. Traditionally, I do so with the bowls. Doesn't Rolando McClain play, um, defense? And, um, linebacker? Sure, Fletcher isn't getting any younger, but don't you fix that Oh! line first? And then maybe the secondary? I know McClain is the bomb and that whole Orakpo thing worked our really well (you're so welcome, D.C.!), but do you really go back to the defense again this year?


Silver Spring: The Rooney Rule.

I mean it sounded like he just grabbed the two closest minorities in the building, asked them to fill out a form (for proof), threw a few questions at them and then promptly called NFL management to see if he was clear to do his usual...hiring the next Big Star Coach.

It reeked of going through the motions.

Cindy Boren: Yep. But, as with tampering, the details are slow to emerge (everybody involved wants to keep working in the NFL) and difficult to pin down (like nailing Jell-O to a wall). It does end up smelling funny.


Goodness, ME: Cindy, I know what'll fix 'em! You want to return to tradition? Burgundy jerseys and gold pants -- that's what they need. Well, that and changing their name... and keeping your Orakpo kid, Hunter the Punter, Fletcher and Carter. Cooley's all right, IF the new coach plays an H-back scheme, but otherwise...eh. Seriously though -- are they gonna blow 'em up, or just feed in a few pieces here and there?

Cindy Boren: Dude, I love fashion as much as the next person, but I think it goes a little deeper than that. Would you trade Cooley if you could get value, given the way Davis has played? Would you trade Davis? What players on the roster will bring quality in return? Are there that many? I think you're looking at a blow-it-up situation, especially if the year is uncapped.


Vienna, Va.: Why is it that the Redskins QB Jason Campbell does not seem willing to throw the ball away to avoid a sack? Does Jim Zorn's system, or Sherman Lewis's or Sherman Smith's, or anyone's system discourage it? Because Campbell has had some ferocious sacks, wouldn't it be better to throw the ball away and not lose yards?

Cindy Boren: Campbell seems to always believe that he can make something happen, that he just runs out of time. I would be just the opposite of Campbell behind that Oh! line: I wouldn't even take a one-step drop; just take the snap and chuck the ball. (I would be Spurrier's dream QB.) I don't think it's the system; I think it's Campbell.


Rockville: Great chat.

Good work.

You certainly have some style.

Cindy Boren: Thanks! You're very kind but ... that's it? No question?


Rockville: "I think he might like Cleveland."

Well that other guy (Norv, I think) likes San Diego.

Cindy Boren: Norv does like San Diego. Remember the days of Norv Face here? Be interesting to see how deep the Chargers go into the playoffs.


Wichita Falls, Texas: Cindy, in light of the epic dismantling last night, epic poetry is called for. Here is an update of the William Henley classic Invictus (also the title of the new Clint Eastwood movie).


Out of the night that covers me

Dark as the pit from poll to poll,

I blame the gold and burgundy

For my disconsolate soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance

Haynesworth wheezed and moaned aloud.

Under the bludgeoning of fans

Zorn was dazed, confused and cowed.

Before these years of wrath and tears

Loom the dreams of glories by;

Whatever happens on the field.

We'll always win July.

It matters not had bad the team,

How charged with graft the parking tolls,

Dan's still master of our fate,

The clueless captain of our souls.

Cindy Boren: Outstanding work; exceptionally high-brow. Suffering really is good for creativity
The ol' chat clock has run down and I must go. Thanks again for joining me; see you here Monday. Until then, the Redskins crew and I will see you on the blog and Twitter.


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