Changes afoot as Redskins end disappointing season
Jim Zorn’s departure as Washington Redskins coach has such a
feeling of inevitability that even one of his assistants speaks of
it as a foregone conclusion.
“There’s no question it’s been tough for him, no doubt about
it,” offensive coordinator Sherman Smith said. “To understand
that you came here with the hopes of being successful as a coach –
and I feel the same way – and to see that you never get a chance to
finish what you wanted to do, I think it’s disappointing, no
The situation is so fluid that running backs coach Stump
Mitchell said Thursday he has been offered the head coaching post
at Southern University. He’ll wait until next week to decide
whether to accept – just in case he still has a job with the
“They’ve offered it to me. I don’t know what’s going to happen
here,” Mitchell said. “But if it’s not here, it’ll be
But the coaching staff is just the tip of an iceberg of changes,
some expected and others very much needed, in what should be
another newsy Redskins offseason. It’s a good thing general manager
Bruce Allen was hired with three games to go in the regular season;
a head start was needed to compile a laundry list of roster
“A lot of guys understand the situation,” quarterback Jason
Campbell said. “There’s going to be some new faces, and there’s
going to be some old faces probably gone, and we all know that, and
that’s part of the program.”
Allen’s list will no doubt look similar to this, starting with
the most glaring need for a team that is 4-11 entering Sunday’s
season finale at San Diego:
-OFFENSIVE LINE: Ex-front office head Vinny Cerrato arguably
should have been sent packing for this gaffe alone. The Redskins
haven’t drafted an offensive lineman in the first two rounds of the
draft since 2000, and this season they entered the season with no
backups who played even a single snap in the NFL the previous year.
Left tackle Chris Samuels and right guard Randy Thomas, both
battered going into the season, predictably ended up on injured
reserve – and Samuels is strongly considering retirement.
Campbell has been sacked 42 times, and nearly all of his passes
involve three-step drops because the line is so porous. The
Redskins need two tackles, a guard and a center who will eventually
replace 32-year-old Casey Rabach, but that’s a lot to add in one
-QUARTERBACK: Campbell’s contract is expiring, and owner Dan
Snyder has already made it clear he wants someone better.
Campbell’s numbers improved slightly this season, but he still
doesn’t look like a franchise quarterback. The Redskins will be
tempted to use their high first-round draft pick on a QB, even
though left tackle is a bigger priority.
-RUNNING BACK: Clinton Portis was showing signs of wearing down
even before the concussion that ended his season early. Backup
Ladell Betts and Rock Cartwright aren’t young, either, so Quinton
Ganther became the unlikely starter in December.
-CORNERBACK: DeAngelo Hall is a good cornerback, but he’s not
the shutdown player the Redskins are paying him to be. Carlos
Rogers will be a free agent and appears unlikely to return. Justin
Tryon improved in his second season, but he seems a better fit as a
nickel back. Same goes for veteran Fred Smoot.
-SAFETY: Considering he was a No. 6 overall draft pick in 2007,
LaRon Landry has been a disappointment. He’s a liability as a free
safety and even has problems at strong safety. The death of Sean
Taylor two years ago still has a huge impact on this position.
Landry isn’t going anywhere, but the Redskins have to decide
whether second-year player Kareem Moore or veteran Reed Doughty can
hold down the free position while leaving Landry at strong.
The bit of good news for the Redskins is that they appear
reasonably set, at least for now, at tight end, linebacker,
defensive line and fullback. Receiver also looks better with the
improvements of second-year wideouts Devin Thomas and Malcolm
The unknown factor in offseason planning is the status of NFL
labor talks. Snyder has always been a free spender, and a season
with no salary cap opens the door for a complete overhaul.
With that prospect, even the players under contract for next
season have genuine doubt as to whether they’ll be back.
“Nothing’s guaranteed any more,” backup quarterback Todd
Collins said. “But with the recent change in the decisions-makers,
there could be more changes.”