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Your Emails and Personnel

Most of the emails and questions I get these days refer to the same things we've talked about for more than a year - lack of a pass rush, depth in the secondary, pass protection issues with older offensive linemen and a lack of a true No. 2 wide receiver, big-target receivers and any real depth at that position at all.

Most of you guys identified these as the chief issues with the team in the offseason in terms of personnel. Obviously, the overarching issues, not pertaining to player acquisition/roster moves, were: Is Jason Campbell ready to be a quality starting QB, and is Jim Zorn ready to handle the responsibility Vinny Cerrato and Daniel Snyder bestowed upon him?

I've long been a Campbell supporter and he's having a breakthrough season (though the lingering issues with too few competent receivers and the slumping pass protection certainly make life difficult for him). If given time, I think Zorn has all the potential to emerge as a smart pick.

But when you look at the issues of actual personnel and self-scouting, you guys tell me what's changed. How many holes does it appear - as of this critical moment of the season - have been filled?

Pass Rush/D Line: Cerrato passed on all of the impact defensive tackles floating around in trades (Kris Jenkins and Shaun Rogers are among those having big years after being dealt). He opted not to address the defensive line until the seventh round of the draft, despite having 10 picks.

When end Erasmus James couldn't pass a physical and was in all likelihood going to clear waivers, the Skins jumped in and gave the Vikings a seventh-round pick for him. When the rest of the league failed to meet Miami's price of a second-round pick for Jason Taylor, the Skins found themselves short-handed after Phillip Daniels got hurt (a problem largely of their own creating after failing to draft an end in the top two rounds since 1997). So they gave up two picks for Taylor, who at 34 makes $8 million a year and took part in no football activities all offseason while participating in "Dancing With the Stars" and who some thought might retire. Taylor was hurt in the preseason and has been hurt a lot since, and, as many NFL execs noted at the time, he did not look like a great fit for this scheme. He and James have combined for one sack. No Redskin is on pace for even six sacks.

Offensive Line: Members of the unit are over the age of 30 and most are coming out of last year dealing with major injuries. They are beat up again and battling injuries. The biggest concerns were at center and guard, with no depth there. The Skins drafted a tackle, Chad Rinehart, whom they hope to convert to the interior. Center Justin Geisinger made the team after being on the practice squad last season. Rinehart has yet to be active for a game, and his development in the offseason will be significant, with the Redskins facing a decision on free agent left guard Pete Kendall. Although Kendall has played very well on his arthritic knees, he could be a gamble given his age and health. The Redskins have succumbed to pass pressure in recent weeks and it's become essentially the chief concern for Zorn at this point.

Secondary Depth: Cerrato has done some astute work here. Yes, the first defensive player he took in the draft - undersized corner Justin Tryon - has struggled mightily at times and essentially plays only special teams - but seventh-round safety Chris Horton is looking like the steal of the draft. Cerrato spent much of the offseason talking about building through the draft and retaining draft picks (he's subsequently traded a bunch of them), and at the same time was dangling picks in potential deals for Chad Johnson, Anquan Boldin, DeAngelo Hall and Jason Taylor. He wouldn't match the price Oakland paid for Hall in the trade market, but did pick him up for a one-year cheap contract last week, which is smarter than giving Hall $70 million up front (we shall see if the Skins give Hall a big payday this coming offseason). For the secondary to have performed as well as it has with Sean Taylor being gone for a year now is pretty remarkable.

Wide Receiver: The Skins just can't seem to get this one right. Drafting pass catchers with their first three picks has given the team absolutely nothing this season. They remain Santana Moss and the Decoys. Everyone knows where the ball is going at key times - to Moss or tight end Chris Cooley. James Thrash is on the field more now then he was five years ago, which just shouldn't be the case. Rather than add a solid and safe possession receiver with some size in free agency (which would have cost them maybe a $1.5 million signing bonus), they went after Chad Johnson, even though he is on the decline and has been a malcontent.

They offered two first-round picks and were willing to give him a huge new contract, but most execs in the NFL were adamant that Cincy owner Mike Brown would never trade Ocho Cinco, and they turned out to be right, even in the face of an unbelievable offer. So after being rebuffed once and for all on the eve of the draft, Cerrato comes up with Devin Thomas, Fred Davis and Malcolm Kelly with the first three picks on day one. Now, though, Zorn finds himself in the same predicament as Joe Gibbs and Al Saunders - with no true No. 2 receiver and very few threatening wideouts for defenses to worry about when they spread the field. With the Redskins dropping to the depths of the NFL in terms of red zone productivity and third-down efficiency, Campbell throwing just three TD passes in the last six weeks and Moss the only person on the roster with more than one receiving TD this season, this deficiency is rearing its ugly head again

And for good measure, several coaches believed the team was going to upgrade at linebacker to some degree, with serious health concerns with both outside linebackers and no real depth. Fringe guy Alfred Fincher replaced injured fringe guy Matt Sinclair; everyone else remains, with Marcus Washington again out for extended periods of time, which has been the case most of his time here. The fact that not one of their 10 draft picks was a linebacker stunned some coaches at the time, and still does.

Maybe this unit is primed for one of those Joe Gibbs December runs, where they pull into the postseason at the last possible minute. But with a team that's a year older and virtually unchanged from 2007, it won't be easy, and this pop-gun offense looks a whole lot like what we saw from Saunders and Gibbs the last four years, with few options and no new playmakers.

By Jason La Canfora  |  November 21, 2008; 10:30 AM ET
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First, let's go after Vinny for the 27th time this week. Wait, if it's the 27th time, then it can't be first, can it?

Posted by: talent_evaluator | November 21, 2008 9:17 AM | Report abuse

Oh look...more off-season talk in the middle of the f-ing season. Seriously the Vinny pot-shots for March! WE HAVE AN F-ING GAME THIS WEEK!! COVER IT!!

Posted by: brownwood26 | November 21, 2008 9:21 AM | Report abuse

WE'RE 6-4, JLC!! You'd think WE'RE the ones at 2-8 by reading your posts. WE'RE STILL IN THE PLAYOFF HUNT, MORON!!

Posted by: brownwood26 | November 21, 2008 9:22 AM | Report abuse

I feel like I'm taking crazy pills...

In the past week I've heard Zorn pretty much call out Fred Davis and Malcolm Kelly with regards to learning the playbook and the offense.

And yet he seems to have no problem with Devin "The Flag Magnet" Thomas getting on the field. If it's not pushing off, it is lining up incorrectly. If it's not running the wrong route, it's not knowing when to get into the huddle.

If Devin Thomas is representative of a trustworthy rookie who gets the offense well enough to get on the field, then I really question Zorn's judgment....

Posted by: p1funk | November 21, 2008 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Jeez. What a post. Once again, the team entered this season with every starter returning. ALL 22 OF THEM. JLC, you have bashed this FO for playing in FA too much, not looking to the future, not using the draft to build for the future, they finally do, and now you criticize them for not working for the here and now.

None of this is a surprise, they will never be able to accomplish anything quite right for you. That's fine. If this team makes the playoffs, they will have survived a significant transition 10 times better than anyone thought they could.

And guess what. This years rookies get the chance to get healthy, learn more, and then likely play more next year. Even if they don't make the playoffs, they have already exceeded expectations, that IS ALSO DUE, IN PART, TO CERRATO.

Try some truly honest, COMPLETE, reporting for a change.

Posted by: craig2 | November 21, 2008 10:51 AM | Report abuse

La Canfora the emails that you get these days more than likely rip you for your constant crap you continue to shove to the public.

So bad, you want to be some sort of analyzer of the game of football, when you're nothing more than a BEAT REPORTER. You're not an analyst, quit trying to give your in-depth analysis and just f'n report already. You know: mental state of the team, how they're preparing, inury updates, what's the general mother beepin' buzz at Redskins Park.

The days are over of trying to defend you buddy. If anyone can't see that this guy is a complete jack@ss who holds a grudge like a scorned woman, then you're more pathetic than he is.

Posted by: RedDMV | November 21, 2008 10:51 AM | Report abuse

"Kris Jenkins and Shaun Rogers are among those having big years after being dealt"

Both of whom were regarded as "risky" at the point in time that they were traded, both were prone to lazyness, and being out of shape and overweight.

And lets be honest here, this REEKS, of playing both sides of the fence. Had this trade been made, it would have been, "Dan playing fantasy football, and Vinny trading away draft picks again", but since it didn't get made, and they're playing well, its, "they should have gotten these two guys"....funny, they're ranked 4th, and in the playoff hunt despite a rookie head coach...I can't wait for the follow up post from the "nfl executive" saying how JCampbell isn't good for the West Coast offense...

Posted by: BeantownGreg | November 21, 2008 10:51 AM | Report abuse

"No Redskin is on pace for even six sacks."

dcsween predicts THREE sacks by Andre Carter THIS week.

[Seriously, there is nothing really to talk about ... feels so offseasony ... only without the humor.]

Posted by: dcsween | November 21, 2008 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Looking at this graphical depth chart, is there any team in the NFL that appears to be this "Swiss"?

Posted by: dcsween | November 21, 2008 10:52 AM | Report abuse did the right thing by pulling this crap and then you repost it? Are the refs from the Steelers-Chargers game running the blog now?

Posted by: brownwood26 | November 21, 2008 10:52 AM | Report abuse




Posted by: dlhaze1 | November 21, 2008 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Phillip Daniels got hurt

Didn't he back up go down at well which was the reason they went after J Taylor?


Posted by: icetotalpackage | November 21, 2008 10:54 AM | Report abuse


I agree on Thomas but the huddle thing was on Betts, Zorn said Betts ran on the field even though the formation was 5 wide.

Posted by: Flounder21 | November 21, 2008 10:54 AM | Report abuse

So does anyone know off hand any players on some of those bottom 5 teams

Posted by: alex35332 | November 21, 2008 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Some of the stuff I do actually agree with, but it's KNOWN already. What about something that the fans DON'T know.

Do your job and report, La Canfora. Keep the analysis to people who can actually give one--or in the POSITION to give one.

Posted by: RedDMV | November 21, 2008 10:57 AM | Report abuse

I also think the Skins should have drafted a linebacker.

Posted by: dcsween | November 21, 2008 10:57 AM | Report abuse

beep beep

Posted by: BeantownGreg | November 21, 2008 10:57 AM | Report abuse

The only reason Kiwi went to linebacker was they finally gave up drafting one cuz they haven't been able to draft a good one for over ten years. He wasn't drafted with that intention is what I'm pointing out. At the time, there was much talk about why they would keep drafting D-Linemen, it worked out for 'em, but it was questioned a lot at the time.

Posted by: craig2 | November 21, 2008 10:41 AM

I hear you Craig, but there are two spots where you can't have too many good players: both lines and RB. If you're young and solid in other areas it's then OK to draft high for depth. But the Redskins have no such flexibility.

Just like Doc Walker says, there's no sense getting into this personnel stuff because THAT IS OFF-SEASON TALK! You play with the guys you've got and you make changes in the off-season. And I still don't get why JLC is bringing this crap up because we're 6-4 and right in the thick of the playoff race. It's not like we're Detroit!

Posted by: brownwood26 | November 21, 2008 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Yikes...he's responding to fan e-mails. Calm down.

He's also not wrong. Our O-line is going to get worse before it gets better, and JC is going to have a hard year or two at some point soon. I can see the morons clamoring for Brennan now...

Posted by: ThisGuy | November 21, 2008 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Looking at this graphical depth chart, is there any team in the NFL that appears to be this "Swiss"?

Posted by: dcsween | November 21, 2008 10:52 AM | Report abuse

I thought that sign means they were part of the nights templar

Posted by: alex35332 | November 21, 2008 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Whar's mah TCCL's?!?

Posted by: DikShuttle | November 21, 2008 11:04 AM | Report abuse

""Man, my head is still spinning. What a crazy day.

Anyway, to me, this is a move the Skins had to make. You're talking about picking up dudes who can, most likely, barely play in the NFL, if at all, versus getting a future Hall of Famer and the premier sack guy in the league over the last 10 years. (Okay, maybe it's Strahan, but he's retired now.)...

Taylor will certainly have some entertainment-type stuff he wants to do in the offseason, but with his pedigree, he's earned that right. He's been remarkably healthy his entire career - hasn't missed a start this decade - and is still a beast at 33. You have to try to make this move; there's no one else out there and it was already a very thin spot of the roster even with a healthy Daniels.

The Skins had to act decisively and they did...

Good for the Skins. Guys like Chris Wilson should learn a lot from Taylor, and it was a huge gamble banking on Daniels staying healthy all year as the starter in the first place, given his age and injury history.""


The comments that I posted above are taken directly from Jason LaCanfora's July 20 post when the Skins first traded for Jason Taylor.

Compare these comments to the ones he wrote just today about the acquisition of Jason Taylor.

If anyone wonders why we rip JLa, well, here it is.

Posted by: p1funk | November 21, 2008 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Good post P1funk

Posted by: GreatOne1 | November 21, 2008 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Great post p1Funk

Posted by: drumer1972 | November 21, 2008 11:38 AM | Report abuse

The problem is actually two-fold in the passing game. Yes, there is no true #2 receiver but there are guys running free all over the field but with the pressure on Campbell he can't find them. This is not unique to the last few weeks because Zorn has made reference to open receivers being missed at most of his post game press conferences.

Posted by: Tyler2Durden | November 21, 2008 11:52 AM | Report abuse

J LA dude...I will say it a washingtonian and redskins fan and subscriber to the Washpost...I really really really really hate you as a reporter covering my beloved hometown team...I hate it and it sucks and it sucks your bosses keep you employed to grind and ax rather than find someone that really serves loyal readers. So WashPost your saying you care NOTHING about us by keeping JLC on the beat. JLC I am so tired of you...please go back to Bmore!

Wash Post...I am about to cancel my subscription due to JLC.

Posted by: Ilikecougars | November 21, 2008 11:56 AM | Report abuse

I hope Rabach and R. Thomas don't get run over by the D-tackle all day Sunday!!

Posted by: tonyc | November 21, 2008 12:05 PM | Report abuse

MORE BS FROM JLC, I wish he would quit trying to play scout and armchair gm. im not going to even get into the specifics of everything wrong with this blog entry. it would take a month to address.

and PDXNate dude, i'll have a beer with you saturday night before game day, JUST SO I CAN SMASH THE BOTTLE OVER YOUR HEAD!!!

Posted by: X--E | November 21, 2008 12:12 PM | Report abuse

I like LaCanfora's frank assessment of the team. If you watch him on Comcast he's accurately called the last two losses the Skins' have had while everyone around him was drinking the Burgundy and Gold kool-aid.

The wide receiver issue is not that rare, most teams in the league do not have two stud wideouts. There's a reason why Dallas gave up A TON to get Roy Williams to play opposite T.O., and why the Bengals still hold onto Chad Johnson even though he's a headcase. Elite talent at this position is hard to come by. Most receivers entering the NFL take a few years to develop, so its not strange we're not getting much from our rookie wideouts. They are not busts yet. It's just unfortunate our team is in a position where we need for them to contribute in a major role as rookies.

To me the Redskins are made up of a bunch of very good players who are not great. Take Carlos Rogers, who is having a very good year yet drops a sure touchdown pick against Pitt. That is the difference between being a very good player and a pro-bowler. We need our players to become elite. Rogers was a top-ten pick, so he certainly has the upside to be a pro bowl player if he's at the top of his game. But he's not quite there.

Portis can run up all the stats he wants, but when you break into the secondary you need to be able to take a few to the house like Chris Johnson on Tenn or Peterson on Minn if you want to be elite. Santana Moss is incredible, for about 10-12 healthy games a year. Stay healthy for 16 games consistently and then you're an elite player. Until then, you're just very good.

Chris Samuels, you can make the pro bowl every year and that's fine, but when you play a good defense like Pitt don't get two holding penalties and give up sacks if you're as good as you're supposed to be. Our secondary is almost all #1 picks yet we're near the bottom of the league in INT's??? Time for our high paid players to take the next step.

Posted by: jpish | November 21, 2008 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Redskins drafts the last two years have not addressed the critical needs on the DL and O-Line. Trade for Taylor was made out of desperation and he's not produced. We'd have been better off standing put with D. Evans and having the 2nd rounder next yr. No, I was never a fan of the trade since Taylor was likely going to be traded for far less than a 2nd rounder as it go closer to the season. Parcells used our impulsiveness to his advantage.

Even if we make the playoffs this year, we have big holes to fill at DE, O-Line, LB (Washington is done and Fletcher is 33). This is not a young team with guys like Portis, Moss, and Samuels all nearing 30. Fans need to ready themselves for a major overhaul next year.

Fellow bloggers may think JLC is a hater, but this team has the same holes that they did at the end of last season.

Posted by: wizfan89 | November 21, 2008 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Regarding Chad Johnson:

He was not on the decline this past offseason. Just the opposite he had just come off the most productive season of his career. Most receptions, yards of his career. Highest yards/rec of his career. Plus 8 touchdowns.

Not saying I wish he was a Redskin... but decline? I don't think so.

Posted by: Joe_in_Raleigh | November 21, 2008 12:55 PM | Report abuse

There are 2 types of Redskins fans...those that are brainwashed by The Danny and his minions and those that aren't. Its pretty clear who is who. Keep drinkin the kool-aid folks.

Posted by: ChimpanzeeRage | November 21, 2008 12:56 PM | Report abuse

More on Johnson:

Who wouldn't be a malcontent on the Bengals? They're terrible and surround themselves with criminals. I would actually be MORE concerned if he was CONTENT with that crap franchise.

Posted by: Joe_in_Raleigh | November 21, 2008 12:57 PM | Report abuse

i am not blinded by synderatto I actually don't think much of them or JLC...I am interested in the team tho... not an armchair gm with an agenda

Posted by: Ilikecougars | November 21, 2008 2:28 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: dcg4 | November 21, 2008 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Good read if you ask me... What THE F is some of you guys problem??? Why do you come in here and complain every dog-gone day!

Posted by: cocodc1 | November 21, 2008 3:35 PM | Report abuse

I can't believe the flak fired at you on this blog. You are doing your job: telling it like it is, as Howard Cosell used to say. Your post is accurate and represents EXACTLY the kind of analysis needed (it should go in the dead-tree edition, by the way). Yes, the Redskins are 6-4, and that's great, but the record is deceptive. Anyone who has watched them play sees this is a house of cards. I hope they make another gutty run for the playoffs in the remainder of the season. But long-term, they've got some rebuilding to do. That comes from a Skins lover. To the dopes who call you a "hater:" You don't love your team by glossing over its flaws anymore than you love your country by pretending it's perfect.

Posted by: jdsp2000 | November 21, 2008 5:10 PM | Report abuse

I don't agree with everything that JLC posted but the overall tone is correct.

The personnel moves over the past 10+ years have been pretty bad as a whole. Sure, there have been some bright spots but overall, it's been bad.

Posted by: fpickering | November 21, 2008 8:39 PM | Report abuse

ROFL, JLC is a know-nothing Joke!!

'Skins are 6-4 and in great position for the playoff. Things aren't perfect and the same can be said for EVERY team.

JLC is just a broken record and people are just sick of it.

If you defend him than you probably are him.....or his mommy!

Hail to the Redskins!

Posted by: filmchis | November 21, 2008 10:24 PM | Report abuse

It's amazing how blind loyalty can create blatant idiocy!

JLC you are the only one who tells it like it is. I applaud you! There is nothing you said here that is not 100% true. If the nearsighted faithful fanatic gallery can not see that they need rehab and counselling, cause they are definately in denial!

Nothing has changed. VC is the same clown he was 10 years ago, only now he's the executive clown.

We were on the fringe last year, and we've upgraded ONLY at SS(before last week). While every other team in the league has rookies and FAs contributing, we have our 4 top picks after 10 games doing virtually nothing to help a bad passing team!

It's all about telling the truth. Let the reality challenged fray say what they will. Just keep up the good work!

Posted by: OMFG | November 22, 2008 12:59 AM | Report abuse

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