Analyze That: Saints 24, Redskins 20

Another year, another season of no playoffs. The Redskins aren't mathematically dead, but priests have been notified to provide last rites after Sunday's loss, another game in which they blew a fourth-quarter lead. Make that, another fourth-quarter lead. Oh the joys of being a Redskins fan these days. If only we could provide more hope for a loyal bunch.

Questionable decision: Let's see, the Redskins have a quarterback making his first start; their facing a defense that struggles against the run and the running game is actually clicking. So what do the Redskins do? They threw the ball 42 times. With Tim Hasselbeck! Meanwhile, the running backs average 6.2 yards per carry -- and Trung Canidate finally showed life. After the Saints went ahead 24-20, Washington threw the ball on four of the next five plays and then punted. This with more than nine minutes left in the game. Steve Spurrier made similar calls

Good game: Running back Trung Canidate. For the first time all season he showed a lot of zip on his runs. It helped that the holes were monstrous, but Canidate also hit them hard most of the time. Other times he reverted to his stutter-stepping. I still don't like him as a fulltime answer because holes don't usually get that large and a back must make something out of nothing. He also had a pass go through his hands that led to an interception. But at least he provided a spark.

About time: Returner Chad Morton did what the Redskins hoped he would. Finally. His best returns come when he starts up the middle and cuts off that, rather than veering off after the catch. Morton started up the middle, broke an ankle tackle and scooted down the left side for a touchdown, getting good blocks from Zeron Flemister and Patrick Johnson. Morton also caught two passes for 16 yards. I wish they would get him the ball a couple more times.

Bad game: Corner Champ Bailey. I wonder how much his wrist and shoulder still bother him because he's not jamming wideouts strong enough at the line. He was flagged three times for 64 yards, including two pass interference penalties. On one, he was clearly beaten and grabbed Joe Horn. On the other Horn ran into him, making it a questionable call. Still, after the game Horn called Bailey the best corner in the league.

Sign of the times: One Redskins fan bravely held up a sign that read, ``Trade Snyder.'' What stuns me is that there isn't more venom directed at the Redskins' owner. Say what you want about the coaches, but the Redskins' culture of losing won't change until Dan Snyder sells the team or completely changes the way the franchise is run. We've said that for a while; now you know why. This team is not built for success and they aren't nearly as talented as they think. So I wish they'd stop using that ``We have the talent, blah, blah, blah'' line. Where's the talent? At running back? No. At defensive line? Who on this line would start for any decent team? I like Patrick Ramsey, a lot, but he's only in his second year and is far from a finished product. He also doesn't get help from Spurrier, who insists on his calling audibles at the line.

First starts: Left tackle Brandon Winey did an excellent job on Saints pass-rushing end Darren Howard. He got help at times, but Winey didn't always need it. Very impressive. As for Hasselbeck, he was OK and played about like you'd expect considering he's been cut four times and is a former undrafted free agent. He often threw before the receiver broke and, after a couple shaky early series, he usually made the right decision. But he missed badly on a fade on third-and-2 late in the game when Laveranues Coles had broken free. Hasselbeck at least has shown he could develop into a quality backup.

Big game: New York will be yawning in anticipation of Sunday's game at the Meadowlands. But there is something on the line, aside from job security. The third-place finisher in the NFC East will likely play at San Francisco, while the fourth-place finisher plays at Arizona. Personally, I like visiting San Francisco more.


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