NFC East: Wasington Redskins
|AP Photo/Bill Kostroun|
|Jason Campbell, left, is sacked by Giants defensive end Justin Tuck during the first quarter of Thursday night's game.|
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Jim Zorn era began Thursday with a Giant thud. For some reason, I thought the huge inflatable Lombardi Trophy at midfield that Michael Strahan emerged from moments before kickoff would anger the Redskins. Silly me.
After their 16-7 loss to the Giants, which might as well have been 30-7, the Redskins talked about not being able to match the opposing team's energy. How does that happen? It's the first real football game of the season, and you're playing the defending Super Bowl champs. Matching their intensity shouldn't be an issue.
The Redskins' new West Coast offense finished with four first downs in the first half, two of which came on penalties. Though Zorn denied it, the first offensive play of the game pretty much set the tone. Quarterback Jason Campbell dropped back to pass, but when his first option was taken away, he saw defensive end Justin Tuck closing in on him. Instead of throwing the ball away, Campbell took a sack.
On this night, the Redskins excelled at completing passes at least four to five yards shy of first downs. Facing a fourth-and-13 in the fourth quarter, Campbell dumped the ball to Ladell Betts in the flat when he had plenty of time to throw downfield. For now, starting receivers Santana Moss and Antwaan Randle El don't appear to be consistent difference-makers and the two rookies have embarrassed themselves by not learning the plays and showing up in poor condition.
Congratulations to running back Clinton Portis for playing with some determination. He was running behind an offensive line that wilted in the face of what was supposed to be an understaffed unit. Time and time again, I watched defensive tackles Fred Robbins and Jay Alford knock the Redskins' line off the ball.
"I feel like we've learned where we need to improve tonight," Zorn said after the game. "If anything is positive out of it, it's got to be that. We saw where we're at offensively and I think if I was trying to look at the cup half full, that would be it. I don't know if the cup has any water in it right now, for me."
On defense, the Redskins couldn't match the Giants' physical style. Safety LaRon Landry is supposed to be a fierce hitter, but running back Brandon Jacobs destroyed him during a run in the first half. Then the other safety, Reed Doughty, received the same treatment. The Giants ran their traditional stretch play directly at Jason Taylor, and he didn't have any answers.
One more thing on Zorn: It's inexcusable for Chris Cooley to have one catch for seven yards. He's one of the best tight ends in the league and he should challenge the Cowboys' Jason Witten for most receptions.
For Zorn's sake, you'd like to say Week 1 might have been an aberration. But after watching back-to-back meltdowns in the preseason, I fear that we may be watching the real deal.
How much patience will owner Dan Snyder have? Well, it's not like he has the best track record in that department. Zorn was brought in to make this a more efficient offense. So far, the results haven't been there.