As the Redskins prepare to relax and breathe a little during their bye week, executive vice president for football operations Vinny Cerrato assessed the first seven games of the season "as frustrating and disappointing."
The Redskins take a 2-5 record into their bye, having lost their last three games. In answering a question during a brief news conference on Tuesday afternoon, Cerrato, in one word, essentially summed up the reason for such a downbeat tenor.
Asked if he thought management had handed coach Jim Zorn a playoff roster, Cerrato simply said "yes."
The Redskins were Wild Card qualifiers in two of Joe Gibbs' final three seasons and finished 8-8 in 2008, Zorn's first year as Gibbs' successor. They were 2-2 before beginning this slide that has also cost them two former Pro Bowl players – left tackle Chris Samuels and tight end Chris Cooley. Guard Randy Thomas was lost for the season in Week 2.
The lack of depth along the offensive line and a constant shuffling of personnel has created a difficult operating environment for quarterback Jason Campbell, who was sacked six times on Monday night in the 27-17 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
Cerrato said the club believed it had addressed its issues sufficiently if not overwhelmingly by signing guard Derrick Dockery and backup tackle Mike Williams.
"When we were in the draft, there was no one at 13," Cerrato said, speaking of the 13th overall pick that was used on linebacker/defensive end Brian Orakpo.
Cerrato added: "Look at the depth around the league. Nobody has a Pro Bowler to back up a Pro Bowler. Look at Philadelphia last week once Jason Peters went out and they had six sacks against the Raiders. There is a dropoff. I'm not making excuses."
The Redskins banked on Chad Rinehart, last year's third-round pick, developing into a suitable successor for Thomas. He started two games but has been inactive since and replaced by Will Montgomery. Counting Thomas, the Redskins have started four players at right guard, two at left tackle and two at right tackle.
"Are you having the results you want? No. If it was Chris Samuels and Randy Thomas in there would it be better? Absolutely. If you lose a Pro Bowler, it's definitely going to drop off. I guess where we're standing right now, to have more depth would be great," Cerrato said.
The high expectations, the injuries and the resultant offensive inefficiencies led to Cerrato's request that Zorn give up play-calling duties.
Offensive consultant Sherm Lewis and offensive coordinator Sherman Smith combined for those duties against the Eagles, with Zorn contributing during the two-minute drills.
Those changes were implemented just days before Cerrato announced Zorn would remain the coach throughout this season and "hopefully for many more to come."
Asked about the highly charged atmosphere surrounding the club, Cerrato rejected the assertion that it was "bleak" and said called it "probably the most frustrating" time of his tenure "because of the inability to score points."
The Redskins have not scored 30 points in a game since beating the Minnesota Vikings 32-21 on Dec. 23, 2007, under Gibbs.
Cerrato said Campbell needed more consistency – he's the NFL's 18th-ranked passer – and liked the play-making of Devin Thomas and Fred Davis, who each caught touchdown passes against the Eagles.
He said he had no worries about his job security beyond what was normal in the pressure-driven NFL.
"I feel like my job is on the line all the time. It's not something I worry about," he said. "My job is to get us going, and to fill these holes when guys get hurt. These things take care of themselves. I don't worry about that."
Larry Weisman covered professional football for USA TODAY for 25 years and now joins the Redskins Broadcast Network and Redskins.com to bring his unique viewpoint and experience to Redskins fans. Go to Redskins.com for the Redskins Blitz column and NFL Blitz on Friday. Larry also appears on The Jim Zorn Show on WRC-TV on Saturday night, on Redskins Nation, airing twice nightly on Comcast SportsNet, and on ESPN 980 AM radio, all in the Washington, D.C. area. Read his blog at redskinsrule.com and follow him on Twitter.com/LarryWeisman.