Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
No matter how much I've tried to convince people that exhibition football is a complete farce, there are still some non-believers. In my mind, the Redskins weren't as good as they looked in their first three "games," and not as bad as they've looked in their final two.
Against his better judgment, neophyte head coach Jim Zorn felt like something could be gained in the team's fifth preseason game against Jacksonville on Thursday. But after three painful series (to watch), his first-team offense finished with a combined 14 yards and zero first downs against Jack Del Rio's scout-team defense.
Now, the doubt seems to be creeping in at the worst possible time. The Redskins opened camp before any other team -- on July 20 -- and seemed to embrace the transition from Joe Gibbs to Zorn. Players bragged about Zorn's hands-on approach and how he never hid anything from them. But more importantly, the offense was sharp in the first couple of exhibitions, and Jason Campbell was buying into Zorn's West Coast offense in a big way.
But as Jason La Canfora explains in The Washington Post, those days seem like a distant memory. Now, we know that two prized rookie receivers aren't ready to contribute at this time and that help on the offensive line isn't on the way. La Canfora takes Vinny Cerrato to task for his recent draft, although I think we should at least wait until Week 2 to blast management for poor decisions.
Every team in the division has lost at least one starter to injury, but obviously the Giants got the worst end of the deal. However, for whatever reason (perhaps the Giants' depth), the Redskins seem to be the only team at a true crisis point. Now that I've had a chance to gain a couple of days' perspective, I think the Giants will rally around their head coach and make it into the playoffs, where, as they know best, anything can happen.
I hate to say this, but Zorn's already reached his second major crisis point -- the first coming when defensive end Philip Daniels went down with a season-ending knee injury. The Jason Taylor signing averted panic among Redskins faithful, but two consecutive no-shows by the club's offense has people worried again.
Post columnist Michael Wilbon is normally a voice of reason, but even he's worried about Zorn possibly losing his team before the regular-season begins. I'm still taking a wait-and-see approach because I think the players believe in Zorn.
But a couple of lopsided losses early could do a lot to erode that trust.