Lack of fundamentals, bad luck continue to plague Redskins

ASHBURN, Va. -- As jinxed as the Washington Redskins might feel, they would have a nice winning streak if they had performed a few football fundamentals.

Free safety: Don't let anyone get behind you. Kicker: Make the field goals. Entire team: Learn how to close out a game.

Coach Jim Zorn gave his players the day off Monday -- unusual for the day after a loss -- because a respite was needed after Sunday's 33-30 overtime defeat to the unbeaten New Orleans Saints. It was the third week in a row the Redskins lost after blowing a fourth-quarter lead.

Besides, at 3-9, they aren't going anywhere anyway.

"Just emotionally -- last week's game and this week's game," Zorn said, "I just gave them a break."

It's tempting to say the Redskins lost because of a series of peculiar plays. The Saints shanked a punt that happened to hit a Washington player in the back. Drew Brees threw an interception that turned into a New Orleans touchdown when Robert Meachem stripped Kareem Moore of the ball. Shaun Suisham missed a 23-yard field goal that would have iced the game. Officials needed extreme freeze-frame slow motion to determine that Mike Sellers had fumbled, putting the Saints in position for the winning drive in overtime.

But how could the Redskins defense allow Meachem to run wide open down the middle of the field for a 53-yard touchdown catch that tied the game in the final two minutes? Safety LaRon Landry and the rest of the secondary have been burned by double moves repeatedly -- opponents have completed seven passes of 30-plus yards over the last four games -- yet Landry continues to bite on the fake.

Even New Orleans coach Sean Payton, who is hardly one to publicly call out players on another team, said after the game that the Saints worked specifically on double moves at practice last week because he felt Washington's safeties were vulnerable. Oakland is certain to do the same as it prepares for the Redskins this week.

"It's not acceptable," Zorn said. "Teams are going to continue to do it. With the Raiders, they've got to have a double move in their plan -- we know that. We've got to be continue to be disciplined and we can't be fooled."

Landry was envisioned as a strong safety when he was selected No. 6 overall in 2007, but he moved to free safety after the death of Sean Taylor. Asked about the possibility of playing Landry more at strong, Zorn said it something that "may be discussed," but the coach added: "There is nobody on that field that has the range and violence that LaRon Landry has back there at free safety."

Week 13 recap

Jim Zorn may ultimately lose his job, but the Redskins' woes rest on the shoulders of their players, who continue to lose games due to poor execution and decision-making, writes Bucky Brooks. **More ...**

Also up for discussion is the future of Suisham. The kicker missed an NFL-high 10 field goals last year, but he was 13 for 13 this season before vital misses from 39 and 50 yards in the 7-6 loss to Dallas. In the chip-shot miss against the Saints, Zorn said the snap was a little high but left the blame with Suisham for a kick that was pushed wide right.

"It was a decent snap. It was an excellent hold," Zorn said. "And it was a poor kick, is basically what it was."

Zorn said it was "a possibility" that the Redskins will audition other kickers this week.

"We'll work out a lot of guys during the week, you can find kickers in there," Zorn said. "But that doesn't mean he's cleaning out his locker today, either."

The bigger issue is that the Redskins are folding when they have a late lead. They were ahead 6-0 at Dallas before allowing a 60-yard winning touchdown drive late in the fourth quarter. They led Philadelphia 24-16 before giving up 11 points on drives of 90 and 66 yards in the final 12 minutes. On Sunday, they were up 30-20 on New Orleans before allowing scoring drives of 69 and 80 yards to tie the game.

Given that stretch, it's not surprising that the word "unfortunate" again got a workout Monday at Zorn's weekly news conference.

"It was unfortunate that he missed that field goal at the time, it was unfortunate that (Sellers) fumbled, it was unfortunate on the interception, unfortunate that we intercept a pass -- how do you do this -- how do you intercept a pass and they score a touchdown? The only place that Kevin Barnes could have been on the field -- and he gets hit by a shanked punt?

"For the life of me, those are frustrating things. Is it reality? Absolutely. We saw it, and those are the things that we have to deal with, we have to move on from, and keep pushing and keep battling."

NOTES: Sellers spent the night in a hospital to have a pool of blood drained from a severe thigh bruise. Zorn said he's uncertain whether the fullback will play against the Raiders. ... DT Albert Haynesworth's status is also uncertain after his sprained left ankle flared up again. ... RB Clinton Portis traveled to Pittsburgh on Monday for two days of evaluation by a specialist as he recovers from a concussion.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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