Showdown with the Skins

October 26, 2009 4:36:30 AM PDT
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Because of tonight's Eagles-Redskins game on 6abc, tonight's episode of "Dancing with the Stars" will be broadcast on 6abc very early Tuesday morning, at 2:05 a.m. after the Monday editions of "Nightline" and "Jimmy Kimmel Live." But the phone lines for voting will have closed by the time tonight's episode of "Dancing with the Stars" airs on 6abc. So if you want to vote after you see the performances, you must do so online. You can cast your votes by following this link to AB C's "Dancing with the Stars" page: http://abc.go.com/shows/dancing-with-the-stars Monday night's episode of "Castle" will be broadcast early Wednesday morning at 1:05 a.m. after "Jimmy Kimmel Live."

Over the last decade, the Washington Redskins have employed six head coaches.

The Philadelphia Eagles have had one.

Since 1999, the Redskins have burned through more than a half-dozen so-called No. 1 quarterbacks. None have started more than 42 games.

The Eagles have had Donovan McNabb. He's started 131. Since Jeffrey Lurie bought the Eagles in 1994, the franchise has been one of the most successful in the NFL. Nine playoff appearances. An NFC title. Only five teams have won more games since his first full year of ownership. He's hired talented people to do the work and let them be.

Since Dan Snyder bought the Redskins in 2000 - well, let running back Clinton Portis finish the thought.

"I've been here for six years. I've been enduring change since I've been here," Portis said. "We've done had a new this, a new that, a change in quarterback. ... That's what it is around here. Change."

They may be only 120 miles apart, but there's much more that separates the two teams that play on Monday night. The Eagles (3-2) have something the Redskins (2-4) don't. Call it consistency, stability, familiarity - or just a comfort in knowing that everyone can focus on football because the front office isn't going to throw a curveball.

"Not a lot of turnover every single year has given all the players a little bit of continuity," running back Brian Westbrook said, "as well as a familiarity with the coaches as well as their style. It's very hard to come into a year or season and have different coaches coaching you every single year or every two years. For the most part, we haven't had a lot of turnover, and coach Reid has done a great job of really hiring from within."

For the Redskins, that must sound like football heaven. In fact, it felt like a landmark moment Friday when the team announced that something wasn't going to change - that coach Jim Zorn would keep his job through the end of the season.

"That should relieve a lot of tension and a lot of stress," quarterback Jason Campbell said. "Guys don't have to worry about thinking about it or talking about it. We were the soap opera for the NFL the last two weeks, so hopefully it'll calm down a little bit."

Snyder's do-something-now reputation is such that Zorn hadn't even finished his rookie season last year before questions arose about his job status - yet he finished 8-8. The owner spent the offseason trying to find yet another franchise quarterback, trying to acquire first Jay Cutler and then Mark Sanchez, irritating Campbell to no end. An emphasis on free agents gave the Redskins the oldest roster in the league on opening day, and only nine of their 22 starters were either drafted by the team or signed as rookie free agents.

The Eagles would have twice that number if linebacker Omar Gaither hadn't suffered a season-ending foot injury last week. Instead, the team in green is a mere 17 for 22.

"It's been a lot of changes and different things," Campbell said, "and sometimes that can mess up the continuity of things developing at a faster pace, but those things are things we can't worry about."

Campbell was speaking on the day he learned of the latest major change. Sherm Lewis, who joined the team less than three weeks ago as a consultant, is the new play caller for the offense. The front office told Zorn he should give up play-calling after last week's 14-6 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Don't be surprised to see Zorn looking a little lost or fidgety on the sideline against the Eagles.

"I'm just going to go out and do what my responsibilities are and try to be as attentive as I can be," Zorn said, "so when I'm called upon do my job, I can come through. It'll be very awkward in that I'm not calling the plays. I don't know how it's going to feel."

It might not matter who is calling the plays. The Redskins have lost their two best offensive linemen to injuries, and the makeshift replacement crew has allowed safeties in back-to-back games. Campbell said his concerns about the offensive line distracted him so much that his performance suffered last week; he was benched at halftime as a result.

The only two teams the Redskins have defeated this year, the St. Louis Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, both entered the weekend with 0-6 records. The Eagles stumbled last week against the Oakland Raiders, but that had more to do with taking a struggling team lightly than anything else. They're on notice not to have that happen again, not against an NFC East rival in prime time.

"I felt embarrassed," McNabb said. "When you get embarrassed, you don't want to get embarrassed again."

For the Redskins, too much of the last decade has been an embarrassment. Yet they keep changing, figuring they'll get it right eventually. Maybe Lewis can call a few plays that turn into touchdowns.

"Change is good sometimes," receiver Santana Moss said, "and maybe this time it'll work for us."

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