What you see is what you get. You are what your record says you are. Shoulda, woulda, coulda. Did anyone get the license number of that truck? Have I left anything out? Oh yea: “I didn’t think …”; “I felt …”. Those last two were uttered by Jim Zorn during his post-game presser. Never-mind what came after those phrases – it really doesn’t matter. We saw the game; we got it.
This game was a tale of two halves. Someone in the locker room uttered that exact statement after the game – he was referring to how the Redskins’ defense played. I’m referring to the coach and the referees. But first, let’s be clear – I’m not blaming the refs for the loss. Actually, I’m not blaming any single person. Today was a team effort.
Nobody but nobody converts 75% of their first downs in the NFL. And, nobody allows the Lions’ offense to stay on the field for over 20 minutes during a half of football. Well, almost nobody. That’s why I say this loss was a team effort. Unfortunately, when a team loses ugly as a team, you have to look at the Head Coach. Hindsight may be 20/20 and all that, but if that’s so sacred a truth, why did Jim Zorn have the team try to run for a 4th and goal at the one yard line? They may have moved the ball well on the drive as Zorn pointed out, but the offensive line wasn’t overpowering anyone on running downs. And, the past two weeks, they’ve looked like the Eagles last year against the Bears. What, can’t punch it in on the ground when we’re inside the 10? Who cares? Let’s try again. The Skins couldn’t do it against the Rams, so they tried against the Lions. They should have kicked the short field goal instead. Boy were those 3 points needed in the end.
And, how ’bout that decision to take a holding penalty which gave the Lions another chance to convert a third down. If the penalty had been declined, the Lions would have kicked a field goal. They scored a touchdown instead. There’s 4 points the Skins could have used in the end. I count 7 points due to risky play calling when risks did not need to have been taken. It was early in the game. I understand Zorn’s thinking behind both decisions. I’m simply saying he can’t afford to think optimistically in those situations until the Redskins show the ability to score touchdowns with some degree of consistency. That’s what I thought of the first half.
The second half belonged to the refs. Yea, I know I sound like Eagles’ fans from years passed, but consider the following … 1. Out in the open, a Lions’ defensive back grabbed Santana Moss’s face mask. Instead of a Redskins’ first down which the penalty would have yielded, the no-call resulted in a punt. 2. On the Lions’ first offensive play directly after that, Matthew Stafford stands inside the hash marks and throws the ball to nobody as he’s being sacked. Was he ruled “in the grasp?” Nada. Was there a ten-yard penalty and loss of down? Nope. 3. A short time later Calvin Johnson, who had previously received a flag for pushing off, gets away with grabbing a fistful of Carlos Rogers’ jersey above the shoulder pad. 4. Then, Chris Horton clearly turns his body back toward the ball inside the goal line, but he’s called for pass interference. Never-mind the fact he had as much right to establish position when going for the ball as the offensive player did. Four plays – all momentum changers or potential momentum changers. That team of refs should be fined $10,000 each and should be watched closely throughout the rest of the year. I’m sorry, but they stunk.
So there you have it. The defense didn’t stop the Lions nearly enough, the offense still looks anemic, and the offense sometimes looks confused. Maybe Jim Zorn needs to let Sherman Smith call the plays? Maybe the Redskins need to use the short pass instead of the run for a while? And, maybe Jason Campbell needs to work from the shotgun more often?
Next week, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers come to FedEx. I hope the seats are filled and the fans are loud. The Skins need all the help they can get.