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Redskins fail to answer the calls

Eagles cruise to victory, 27-17

By Jason Reid
Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Television cameras showed new play-caller Sherman Lewis scanning his sheet for something that could help to jump-start the Washington Redskins' moribund offense against the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday night. Coach Jim Zorn probably could have told Lewis the answers he sought were not on paper.

Although Redskins owner Daniel Snyder and Vinny Cerrato, Washington's executive vice president of football operations, were hopeful that Lewis's calls could provide a spark, it again was clear that the Redskins have much bigger issues on offense -- most notably along the line -- than who selects the plays as the Philadelphia Eagles raced to a big halftime lead and cruised to a 27-17 victory at FedEx Field.

"We're handicapped if we can't get protection for the quarterback," wide receiver Devin Thomas said in response to quarterback Jason Campbell being sacked six times and hit often. "Me, Malcolm [Kelly], Fred [Davis], the second-year guys everybody wants to see us make plays. We can't do that if we're not getting the ball. When we're getting the little chances we do, sometimes they're big plays, sometimes they're not. But we just got to be fed the ball. It's everybody -- all the playmakers on the offense."

Many on defense agreed with the essence of Thomas's analysis.

"Doesn't matter who calls the plays, doesn't matter what's called, you got to block somebody," defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin said. "You got to move somebody off the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball."

The absences of injured left tackle Chris Samuels and right guard Randy Thomas contributed to another disappointing night for the Redskins and many in a crowd of 88,241 in Washington's last game before the bye week. In addition to those injuries, Washington played most of the final three quarters without Pro Bowl tight end Chris Cooley, who suffered a broken bone in his right ankle in the second quarter and could be sidelined for the remainder of the season.

"I can tell you this for sure: He's got a break in his ankle," Zorn said. "It's on the inner side of his tibia, it's right on the end there. I haven't seen the X-ray myself but we're quite certain it's broke or fractured in some way, and we'll make a better diagnosis tomorrow, but he'll be out for a while until this thing can heal up. I don't know if it's a season-ending injury."

Thomas was lost for the season in Week 2 because of a triceps injury and Samuels -- the Redskins' top offensive lineman -- has been sidelined since suffering a severe neck injury on Oct. 11 and will miss the remainder of the season and plans to retire, league sources said, because of the threat of paralysis. The line is in tatters, and now an offense that has sputtered for months spanning two seasons likely will be without Cooley, one of Washington's few proven playmakers, for at least a considerable stretch.

On Cerrato's recommendation, Snyder stripped Zorn of play-calling duties after last week's loss to the lowly Kansas City Chiefs. But with Lewis -- who came out of retirement three weeks ago to join Washington as an offensive consultant -- in charge of the plays Monday night, Washington (2-5) was often overmatched against the Eagles (4-2).

"Well, the result was the same," Zorn said. "We got 17 points."

So having shaken up play-calling, now what? On his radio show Friday, Cerrato said Zorn would remain in his position for the rest of his season. The Redskins stumble into their bye week facing even more questions about their direction on offense, and with the exception of a roster overall during their break, it seems there are no apparent short-term solutions.

"We knew coming into the season depth [along the offensive line] was going to be an issue for us, and it's kind of catching up with us a little bit," said Campbell, who was under duress throughout from Philadelphia's effective pass rush. "The guys are trying to fight as hard as they can, but with all these different looks that Philly was doing tonight, we had backs trying to block their [defensive] ends. That's a tough position."

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