Redskins skidding as Zorn revisits Seattle

Michael Silver
Yahoo! Sports

For a team with so much talent and chemistry, the Redskins sure have a knack for coming up limp when the sun goes down.

On Sunday at FedEx Field, for the third time since September, the 'Skins had a chance to make a statement in a nationally televised night game. And for the third time, this is what rookie coach Jim Zorn's team told the football-watching world: Our defense is good enough to keep us in any game, but our offense isn't ready for prime time.

As with previous clunkers against the Giants and Steelers, Washington's 14-10 loss to the Cowboys exposed a collective tightness under the lights, a disturbing trend for a team that looked so bold and assertive earlier this season in consecutive road victories against the Cowboys and Eagles.

"We're so wishy-washy, and it's very frustrating," veteran defensive end Andre Carter said after Sunday's game as he dressed in a near-deserted locker room. "This team is so blessed in so many ways, and we've come so far as a group.

"We have it – it's so there – we just need to fix a couple of things. The main thing I think we need to do is just tone it down. Sometimes you've just got to slow your heart rate down, clear your head and say, 'Let's go.' "

Now would be that time. The Redskins (6-4), who once fashioned themselves as contenders for home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs, have slipped three games behind the Giants in the NFC East and are now part of what is shaping up as a nine-team scrum for two wild-card spots.

Can Zorn's offense, which has produced just six touchdowns in the 'Skins' past five games (and 23 points in those three prime-time games), get it together when he returns to Seattle this Sunday? And sustain that momentum down the stretch? Will Washington shrink up again the next time it plays a night game – which, barring an NBC schedule change, wouldn't come until the playoffs, when the lights are the brightest?

Hey, I'm not a psychic; I just play one on the Internet. As always, however, I'm relentlessly inquisitive, seeking answers in a best-to-worst-team kind of way:

1. Tennessee Titans: Who let Justin Gage out of his cage?

2. New York Giants: If the Ravens can't stop their running game, can anyone?

3. Pittsburgh Steelers: After he made that awesome diving interception in the first quarter, didn't Troy Polamalu deserve that last-second (and incorrectly overturned) touchdown?

4. Carolina Panthers: Is Jon Beason always around the ball, or does it just seem that way?

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Now that Jeff Garcia is leading the Bucs toward the playoffs again, doesn't it seem even weirder that Jon Gruden benched him after the team's season opener?

6. Dallas Cowboys: Is this team talented enough to overcome its habitual sloppiness?

7. Washington Redskins: By failing to subdue the Cowboys, did they just recreate a monster?

8. New York Jets: Is Thomas Jones the most underrated running back of the decade?

9. Arizona Cardinals: Will Kurt Warner have a little somethin'-somethin' for the coach who discarded him, Tom Coughlin, on Sunday?

10. Indianapolis Colts: After the way their last two games ended, is it fair to say they're No. 10 with a Bullitt?

11. Green Bay Packers: When Ryan Grant gets going like he did Sunday, can this offense be stopped?

12. Minnesota Vikings: I know they only ran seven plays, but how can Adrian Peterson not touch the ball in the fourth quarter of a competitive game?

13. New England Patriots: If someone had told you in August that the Pats would open as one-point favorites over the Dolphins in a mid-November revenge game, would you have fitted him/her for a straightjacket before or after delivering the Thorazine shot?

14. Denver Broncos: Is Jay Cutler back in the MVP conversation?

15. Atlanta Falcons: Did you see the massive hole on Michael Turner's 28-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter of Sunday's game against the Broncos, and was it further confirmation that this is the NFL's most improved offensive line?

16. Baltimore Ravens: How impressive is Matt Stover's NFL record for consecutive extra points – and, to put it in perspective, what are the odds that you could do anything (take a bite of food without spilling; park the car downtown without tapping someone's bumper; put the trash out for collection day) successfully 372 times in a row?

17. Chicago Bears: Did Brian Urlacher bait Aaron Rodgers into throwing that interception while covering Donald Driver deep, and is there another over-30 middle linebacker who could possibly get away with that?

18. Miami Dolphins: Did you see Chad Pennington firing up the Dolphins' defenders after he engineered that go-ahead-field-goal drive – and is there any doubt that he's the leader of this team?

19.Philadelphia Eagles: Did Donovan McNabb at least know that a tie is like kissing one's sister (and, in this case, is it fair to say that Philly's sister is pretty damned far from Angelina Jolie)?

20. New Orleans Saints: Is .500 as good as it gets, or can this team outscore the Packers and make a run?

21.Cleveland Browns: How many beers did Brady Quinn buy Phil Dawson Monday night?

22. Buffalo Bills: Which Dick was more paranoid and conservative – Nixon during his presidency, or Jauron on the Bills' final drive Monday night?

23. San Diego Chargers: Should I read anything into the fact that my preseason Super Bowl picks are a combined 9-11?

24. Jacksonville Jaguars: Instead of giving his team the ol' David and Goliath speech, perhaps Jack Del Rio should've copped Jules Winfield's classic Ezekiel 25:17 speech from "Pulp Fiction"?

25. Houston Texans: As disappointing as this season has been, is it fair to say that Steve Slaton was a nice little third-round draft pick?

26. Seattle Seahawks: When Matt Hasselbeck is 3 yards shy of being your leading rusher in a November game, is it fair to say you're running in place?

27. Kansas City Chiefs: Even though they keep losing … and losing … and losing … don't you get the feeling this team could be pretty good in '09?

28. Cincinnati Bengals: Given his pedigree as a youth soccer ball wizard, was Chad Ocho Cinco hoping that Sunday's game against the Eagles would go to PKs?

29. San Francisco 49ers: With a 35-3 lead after two quarters Sunday, did Mike Singletary consider pulling down Jim Haslett's pants at halftime?

30. St. Louis Rams: Is Steven Jackson coming back soon, and will it even matter?

31. Oakland Raiders: When your two stars are a punter (Shane Lechler) and a punt returner (Johnnie Lee Higgins), are you officially unwatchable?

32. Detroit Lions: If I screamed out "Quarterback draw!" before Daunte Culpepper received the two-point conversion snap while trailing 24-22 late in their game at Carolina, what do you think the odds are that the Panthers' defenders were thinking the same thing?

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