THN Weekly with Andre Carter – Week 7
With their loss to yet another winless team, this time to the then 0-5 Kansas City Chiefs, the Redskins may have hit rock bottom. At least that’s how the majority of fans and media, local and national, view things.
But not Andre Carter, who has been on both sides of the fence, having played both for successful playoff teams and teams that were amongst the bottom of the league.
While in San Francisco, Carter was on some very inexperienced, rebuilding teams that underperformed but for the past four seasons, he has been on some very talented veteran Redskin teams and for the most part they have underperformed as well. He says that experience and talent doesn’t always determine a team’s performance.
"I feel it doesn't matter the level experience from the depth of rookies to vets. The goal is still the same… to win. I feel a loss is a loss no matter the situation of an organization. We all have the mindset to be the best and to fight during the season. In the end winning is hard no matter the circumstances."
No one on the team has learned how difficult it is to win in the NFL, more than Head Coach Jim Zorn, who is 10-12 in his first 22 games as the team’s leader. Now with a 2-4 start to the 2009 season following the loss to Kansas City, Zorn was forced to relinquish his playcalling duties.
What kind of message does taking the playcalling duties away from the head coach in the middle of the season, send to the rest of the team?
"I don't know what message it sends. All I know is Zorn is no longer calling the plays, yet his level of faith in us keeps him driven to be the best coach for us," Carter said.
Zorn has received a lot of well-earned respect over the past week from those around him for how he has handled the situation. According to friend and former teammate Steve Largent, Zorn contemplated resigning following the loss to the Chiefs but decided to relinquish his playcallng duties and try to turn things around without abandoning his players and fellow coaches. Zorn’s approach to each game hasn’t changed at all, Carter says.
"Zorn is our head coach. His process for preparing each week has been the same. Intensity, focus and faith are key characteristics of Zorn that I have admired since 2008."
The playcalling responsibilities will now be decided by offensive consultant Sherman Lewis, who was brought in just over two weeks ago for his extensive knowledge of the West Coast Offense. Until this week, Lewis has been more of an observer than anything else but with his increased role has come increased interaction with those around him.
"I had the opportunity to speak with Sherman Lewis last week. We spoke about Bill Walsh and enjoying our moments with the 49ers. His experience in football is major. I respect him for all his accomplishments. As far as interacting with other players and coaches, I am confident he has. We know that his role is vital for Monday night’s game," Carter said.
Lewis hopes to elevate the play of the Redskins offense to that of the defense, which, led by Carter for the second straight week, generated a strong pass rush that continuously collapsed the pocket and sacked Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel five times.
Carter added two more sacks to his resume on Sunday, moving him to sixth in the NFL in sacks, with 5.5 on the year (4.5 coming in the last two games). He also tacked on seven tackles and one pass defended on Sunday.
Carter says his performance as of late is based on a team effort, led by a defensive line that has been improving over the past few weeks.
"Every man did his job. When the opportunity for one-on-one matchups came we were able to be successful."
"Everything started to jell. Pass rush is a mindset," he continued. "The problem in the beginning of the season was third downs and details within our assignments. With progress we continued to get better and the coaches came up with a great game plan on Sunday."
One attitude prevailing throughout the defense is that no matter how well they perform one week, there will always be room for improvement.
"The defensive performance is always a stepping stone. We can always do more, create big plays and score. We are never satisfied with our last game because we know we can excel at a higher level," Carter said.
That attitude will certainly be needed against a quick offense such as the Philadelphia Eagles, the Redskins upcoming opponent this Monday night at FedEx Field.
Philadelphia’s offense is ranked sixth in the league in points per game and features veteran quarterback Donovan McNabb, oft-injured but still dangerous running back Brian Westbrook, sophomore receiver DeSean Jackson, and their respective rookie reserves LeSean McCoy and Jeremy Maclin. The Eagles offense has a propensity for making the big play, proven by the fact that they’re tied with the Dallas Cowboys for most plays of 40 yards or more with seven.
"Big plays come from big playmakers. The Eagles have many offensive weapons and always have. They have been great at disguising plays with the play action pass and reverses. Westbrook has been dangerous on the run and passing game. Even though McNabb has been hurt he can make people miss if you don't tackle him," Carter said.
The Eagles offense against a Redskins defense that ranks fifth in the league in points allowed per game should make for a great matchup, especially on the primetime stage.
"This game is a two-for-one matchup. It can help you in the final stretch and it can hurt you. I enjoy these battles because it's intense and physical. These games bring the best out of you. You look at NFC East matchups in the past and the history behind the games, it feels you are on the verge of something special regardless of the circumstances," Carter said.
With all three divisional home games on primetime TV and the lighter portion of the schedule come and gone, will Redskins fans continue the trend of decreased attendance such as what was displayed at the Chiefs game? Carter believes not. When asked if he expects a repeat of the Steelers game at FedEx Field last year, he had this to say:
"I anticipate a lot of burgundy and gold in our stands."
Under the Helmet:
THN: What iPhone app would you most likely refer to a friend and why?
AC: I love the "I am T-Pain" app. It's fun to mess around especially if you love music. Chris Wilson did some freestyle sessions on that app and sounded like T-Pain.
This article was released on 2009-10-22.
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