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Rivalry weekend

The Washington Redskins have defeated the Dallas Cowboys, in Dallas, by a score of 26-24. It’s the Redskins’ third victory in a row under our new coach, Jim Zorn. Until taking over the Redskins, Zorn head never been a head coach or a coordinator in the NFL. This means that, in calling offensive plays for the Redskins, he’s calling them for the first time.

Zorn made his name in coaching by successfully tutoring Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselback. So far, Zorn has also done a great job with Redskins’ quarterback Jason Campbell. Last year, Campbell showed flashes of talent but was extremely error prone. This year, through four games and often intense pass rush pressure, Campbell has yet to be intercepted.

Although Zorn installed a brand new “West Coast” style passing game, he elected to stick with the Joe Gibbs-Joe Bugel running game. That decision continues to look good, as Clinton Portis ran for more than 100 yards today. Some of the toughest ones came on a lengthy fourth quarter drive (seven minutes, I believe) that led to field goal that put the game all but out of reach for Dallas. Meanwhile, the Redskin defense stuffed the Cowboys’ running game, while a banged up secondary did well enough to ensure the victory.

Across the pond, though, stuggling Everton lost at home to arch-rvial, Liverpool, 0-2. In just a few days, Everton has done a double; we have crashed out of the Carling Cup to Blackburn (we were semi-finalists in this competition last year) and lost the Merseyside derby.

In the coming week, we have a great chance to make it a trifecta. Having only drawn 2-2 at home against Standard Liege in the UEFA Cup, we must either win the return leg in Belgium or draw with at least two goals. A lesser result would eliminate Everton. Considering that Standard Liege nearly knocked off Liverpool in the Champions League, and considering how we have been playing all seasons, our prospects in Belgium aren’t good.

Why is Everton suddenly so poor? The easy explanation is (1) the failure to add new players until the end of the exhibition season, meaning that the new additions are still being integrated and (2) the failure even then to add top stars. But our back four and goal-keeper are unchanged from last season when we had the Premier League’s best defense ouside of the “big four” teams. Yet we are leaking goals this year.

I haven’t seen enough of the team to know why the defense has collapsed. But from what I’ve read, Joleon Lescott, arguably our best player last year, has become a liability. I understand that Lescott underwent surgery this summer, so maybe he’s still working himself back into true match fitness.

If the problems are any deeper than integrating new players and waiting for Lescott to improve, then it might be just as well if we crash out of the UEFA Cup so we can concentrate on salvaging our Premiership campaign.

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