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Redskins Running On Empty After Third Straight Defeat

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Say bye. So long. Auf Wiedersehen. Wave to the nice Redskins as they drift into the distance.

Turnovers by the offense. Special teams gaffes. Defensive breakdowns. They never gave themselves a chance.

Goodbye, game. Goodbye, season. Nice knowing you.

We may never know whether the insertion of Sherm Lewis into the equation as the play caller could have made a difference. Too much else failed and the Redskins fell 27-17 to the Philadelphia Eagles on a Monday night, their shortcomings laid bare for a nation to witness.

"The result was the same," coach Jim Zorn said afterwards. "We got 17 points."

The Redskins allowed a 67-yard touchdown run by DeSean Jackson on the fourth play of the game and then, as the first quarter neared its end, helped stage their own premature burial.

A tipped pass was intercepted by the new Eagles middle linebacker, Will Witherspoon, and returned nine yards for a touchdown. On the next Redskins offensive series, a hobbled Jason Campbell (ankle) suffered a sack and a strip and the Eagles converted that turnover into a field goal.

The special teams got into the act (a comedy act, in some regards) when Antwaan Randle El attempted to catch a punt with his facemask. He failed, the Eagles recovered and kicked another field goal.

Even though the Eagles offense didn't do much after Jackson's initial run, Jackson found a way to provide dynamic moments. He hauled in a 57-yard touchdown pass from Donovan McNabb for a 27-7 lead with 1:50 left before halftime.

The Redskins, with a two-minute offense borrowed from The Three Stooges, managed to use that bit of time as ineptly as possible. By throwing short, cautious passes and gaining no appreciable yardage, they were able to call all three of their times-out and still only reach the Philadelphia 29-yard line. Shaun Suisham kicked a 47-yard field goal with one second left and the Redskins only trailed by 17, which is, of course, as many points as they've scored in any game this benighted season.

So it went. A promising drive at the start of the third quarter fell apart on a false start penalty assessed against Clinton Portis and the second holding call of the evening on left tackle Stephon Heyer, who not only is not Chris Samuels but may not even be Stephon Heyer. Mistakes follow the Redskins around and they play without the requisite precision and unity.

"If we keep on going separate ways, we'll keep on getting slaughtered like we have," defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth said.

The Redskins made it too easy for the Eagles. The Eagles simply needed to get through four quarters without major screwups and they'd be assured of winning against a team incapable of doing the same.

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Philadelphipa gained a mere 262 yards in this game on 56 snaps and 124 yards came on Jackson's scoring plays. That means they gained 138 yards on 54 snaps, or 2.55 yards per play on the ones that didn't find the end zone.

The game itself followed a bizarre week at Redskins Park – this statement could be repeated, oh, on a weekly basis – that saw Zorn surrender his play-calling duties after it was "strongly suggested" by management that he do so.

Shortly thereafter he received a guarantee that his job was safe for the rest of the season, though that was announced on the radio and not relayed to him directly. His gratitude, understandably, was underwhelming.

The Redskins ventured into meeting with Eagles having fallen at home 14-6 last week to the Kansas City Chiefs, winners of no other games. The failure to score touchdowns, the obvious regression of this offense from one that could at least move between the 20-yard lines to this static collection that borders on immobile, set in motion the slow and steady dismembering of Zorn under the curious guise of "helping" him. Toward what, the door?

Their line battered by injuries, their young receivers of almost no use (though Devin Thomas caught the first touchdown pass of his two-year career), with tight end Chris Cooley (ankle fracture) out now, the Redskins could not move the football efficiently without the services of Allied Van Lines. Campbell looked tentative at times and who could blame him, with Eagles defensive linemen screaming in at him from all angles for six sacks."

"What hurt us was our pass protection and the inability to run," Zorn said. "We got in third and long. We only converted two third downs (actually three of 12). We didn't sustain drives."

Almost nothing looks right. The Redskins used three punt returners in this game, two of whom touched the ball, and got 10 yards on three returns. They've started four right guards, two right tackles and two left tackles. They drafted three theoretical pass-catchers in the second round last year – Thomas, Malcolm Kelly and tight end Fred Davis – but Jackson was the one who got away. The Eagles chose wisely and the Redskins chose Thomas, Kelly and Davis, who to be fair, had his best game as a pro.

Even at the end, when the Redskins mustered another of those long-distance drives that ignore the realities of the clock, they flubbed and fumbled their way out of the possibility of a score. Facing fourth and four at the Eagles 4 with a little less than five minutes to go, the Redskins elected not to kick a field goal (not so bad, or so it seemed). Then Campbell fumbled another snap (not so good), the Redskins turned the ball over for the fourth time and the fans decided an hour on the Beltway beat another 10 minutes in the stadium.

The Redskins managed to snake their way into the end zone again with 1:38 left on a 1-yard pass from the battered Campbell to Davis and the Redskins trailed by 10. Remember that field goal they didn't kick?

Didn't matter. Couldn't execute the onside kick. Say bye to the football. Say bye to the rest of the lovely crowd. Say bye to hopes, dreams, aspirations.

"It's getting bad," Haynesworth said. "The bye week is at a good time."

The Redskins go into it at 2-5, that record a funhouse-mirror version of what it could have been. Other than the Eagles and the New York Giants, the Redskins have played five teams (St. Louis Rams, Detroit Lions, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Carolina Panthers, Chiefs) that can barely beat each other. The Rams and Bucs are both 0-7. The Lions and Chiefs have beaten no one but the Redskins.

"I've seen 0-5 teams make the playoffs," Campbell maintained. "We've just got to get one win."

Good luck with that. When they emerge from the bye week, the path grows more treacherous. The Atlanta Falcons. The unbeaten Denver Broncos. The Dallas Cowboys. The Eagles again. The unbeaten New Orleans Saints.

Bye week. Bye, guys. Bye, season.


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.

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