John Crist: Needless to say, the loss of Sean Taylor will be the defining moment of the 2007 season for the Redskins. Teams dealing with tragedy usually react two different ways: They either rally around each other and make a push, or they simply collapse from all the emotion associated with such an event. If you had to guess, which path do you think this Washington club will follow?
John Keim: The Redskins were going to have trouble making a run down the stretch anyway. It's just one of those years when injuries would have prevented a strong push. But they've stayed in games because they do play hard and they won't quit. That would not fit the kind of character guys they have in the locker room.
But my guess is they'll continue to play hard and come up short. They might win another game, but it's hard to believe they have a lot left.
JC: It's now been four seasons since the Redskins traded All-Pro cornerback Champ Bailey to Denver for Pro Bowl running back Clinton Portis. And while Portis has been pretty good in Washington , it's no secret that All-Pro cornerbacks are much tougher to find than Pro Bowl running backs. Since hindsight is 20-20, do you think management would make that deal a second time?
RB Clinton Portis
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
JK: Yes, and here's why: Bailey wasn't going to re-sign with Washington. The organization ticked him off long before head coach Joe Gibbs arrived, and he'd tired of the constant change. So the Redskins got what they could for him.
Don't forget this part either: The Redskins also gave up a second-round pick in the deal. That was ridiculous.
JC: Speaking of high-profile trades, the Redskins sent receiver Laveranues Coles to the Jets before 2005 for fellow wideout Santana Moss, who immediately paid dividends with 84 receptions for 1,483 yards and nine touchdowns. However, he has just 1,308 yards and seven TDs combined the last two years. Why has he struggled so mightily, and what can the `Skins do to get him uncorked?
JK: Injuries have been the biggest factor in his slide. Moss simply hasn't stayed healthy enough over the past two seasons. It doesn't seem like he's lost a lot of speed by any means, but it also doesn't seem like he's been in any kind of rhythm lately.
JC: Washington is middle-of-the-road or better in most every defensive category, but they're tied for 29th in the league with just nine interceptions this season. Even more confounding is the fact that Taylor was actually tied atop the NFC with five INTs at the time of his passing. Is it therefore safe to say that the Redskins haven't been getting it done at the cornerback position?
LB London Fletcher
Win McNamee/Getty Images
JK: Not just corner. The linebackers, who started out so strong, haven't made a lot of plays either. London Fletcher has, but the other two have not.
The Redskins also don't put a lot of pressure on with their front four, giving quarterbacks enough time to find open wideouts.
JC: The Bears and Redskins threw around the idea of a trade involving linebacker Lance Briggs before the draft, but neither team backed off its high demands. Free-agent acquisition London Fletcher has played well his first season in Washington , leading the defense with 101 tackles. But aside from Fletcher, how good has the linebacking corps been and could Briggs have made a difference?
JK: Rocky McIntosh started out very strong, and he would have been the odd man out in the Briggs deal. Rocky looked very fast and decisive and on the verge of becoming a decent playmaker. But McIntosh has not done a whole lot since the early part of the season. Marcus Washington, a one-time Pro Bowler, missed four games with a hamstring injury and hasn't played as well as he has in the past. So the group had a lot of promise but hasn't always lived up to it.
Fletcher has played well and filled a leadership void on defense.
To read Part II of Behind Enemy Lines, where Mr. Crist answers five questions from Mr. Keim, Click Here.