Redskins scapegoat: Kicker goes, safety stays
ASHBURN, Va. (AP)
Kicker Shaun Suisham hasn't cost the Washington Redskins nearly as many points as free safety LaRon Landry, yet it is Suisham who found himself unemployed this week in the fallout from after another tough loss.
Coach Jim Zorn declined to call Suisham the ``scapegoat'' Wednesday - ``I would never use that word'' - for the 33-30 overtime loss to New Orleans, but the Redskins (3-9) were following a tried and true NFL axiom: It's easier to cut a kicker than punish a high first-round draft pick.
``I was my decision, but I didn't just go, 'Hey, I think I'll cut Shaun today.' I tried to look at all the issues involved,'' Zorn said. ``I think in the end of this it's going to be the best decision for our team.''
Even so, Zorn couldn't say enough good things about Suisham and said he expects the kicker to be signed by another team before the end of the week. Suisham was 18 for 21 this season, but the solid stats weren't enough to overcome a 23-yard miss that would have cemented a win over the unbeaten Saints. Suisham was cut Tuesday and replaced by Graham Gano, who has never kicked in an NFL game.
But what about Landry? While Suisham was close to tears explaining his missed kick in the locker room after Sunday's game, Landry had a matter-of-fact attitude despite an even bigger mistake - allowing a 53-yard touchdown pass deep over the middle that tied the game in the final two minutes of regulation.
Landry and the Redskins secondary have been getting burned repeatedly by the deep ball in crucial situations: Opposing teams have completed seven passes of 30-plus yards over the last four games.
``I'm just trying to make a play and he ran a good route,'' Landry said Wednesday. ``Good game plan, man. They've got great coaches and they watch tape, too. The offensive coordinator dialed up a good play.''
Asked about learning from such mistakes, Landry shrugged and said: ``I'll still play my game.''
Behind the scenes, however, there could be some changes in Landry's role for this week's game at Oakland. Zorn said the coaching staff tinkering with the scheme, especially when Landry is asked to play deep in a zone defense. The coach didn't go into specifics because he didn't want to give away the game plan.
``Some of our big plays have been in coverages where we should have guys deep,'' cornerback Carlos Rogers said. ``It's our fault. It's what we messed up. We're going to make some changes.''
It's not that Zorn hasn't been willing to bench players for underperforming. Rogers lost his starting job for a while after getting beat on a deep ball in the win over Denver last month, and strong safety Chris Horton also had his playing time drop before he went on injured reserve. The offensive line has been in constant flux, and this week Rock Cartwright was demoted from the starting running back spot in favor of Quinton Ganther.
It would be harder to demote Landry, the No. 6 overall pick in the 2007 draft, because backup Kareem Moore is still developing and likely isn't ready for a starting role. Landry, for that matter, has been playing out of position since moving from strong safety to free safety following Sean Taylor's death two years ago.
``I can't determine who they play or when they're benched or whatever their reason is behind it,'' Rogers said. ``I'm out there now, so I ain't going to worry about it.''
Suisham departed as the most accurate kicker in franchise history with an 80.2 percent success rate on field goal attempts, but that's a fact that speaks volumes about the team's revolving door at the position over the last 15 years. Suisham was with the team for less than four seasons, but he already ranked fourth all-time in attempts behind Mark Moseley, Chip Lohmiller and Curt Knight.
Moseley, Lohmiller and Knight were fine kickers, but they played in eras when 70 percent was considered good. Suisham's career percentage of 79.4 (which includes a handful of attempts with the Dallas Cowboys in 2005 and 2006) ranks a mere 27th in the NFL since 2005.
And, of course, the latest miss is the one everyone always remembers. In that sense, Rogers says defensive backs are a lot like kickers.
``If you miss, everybody sees it,'' Rogers said. ``If you get too many, you're going to be out of here.''
NOTES: CB DeAngelo Hall has back spasms to go along with his sprained knee and could miss his third straight game. He's been looking forward to facing the Raiders, who released him last year eight games into the season. ``When I saw the schedule, I obviously had this one circled,'' Hall said. ... Hall, DT Albert Haynesworth (ankle), T Stephon Heyer (knee) and FB Mike Sellers (thigh) did not practice. ... The Redskins signed OL Will Robinson to the active roster from the practice squad. They also signed RB Anthony Alridge to the practice squad.