Sunday, December 5, 2010, 6:43 p.m. UPDATED 9:01 p.m.
By Ryan O'Halloran
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. ' Several years ago, during a particularly miserable Redskins season, many players started a day count, figuratively checking off the time remaining until the madness was over.
It's that time for this Redskins team.
There won't be a third December to remember in five years.
What there will be after the wreckage of Sunday's 31-7 debacle of a defeat to the New York Giants is surveyed: A team-wide evaluation over the final four games. Who can help the Redskins in 2011? Who can be discarded? What positions needed to be prioritized?
That's how bad the Redskins were at wind-swept New Meadowlands Stadium.
The defense allowed 197 rushing yards, only to be matched by an offense that committed six turnovers. At 5-7, the Redskins are still playoff eligible only via mathematics.
'These last four games are pride games,' center Casey Rabach said. 'You play as hard as you possibly can and show this organization and this coaching staff what an asset you are to this team. It's getting to that point. Anybody that's not will definitely be noticed.'
Slowly but surely, veterans are starting to realize that the current roster isn't close to competing with the league's elite teams.
'It's going to take a couple years to get the right guys in here and until that happens, all Coach Mike Shanahan can do is work with what he's got.,' cornerback DeAngelo Hall said. 'You can bring in Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick; hell, you can bring in the late Hank Stram and it's not going to change. Eventually we'll get the guys we need and win a whole lot of football games.'
All the Redskins did against the Giants was miss a whole lot of tackles and commit a whole lot of giveaways.
'Our tackling in the first half was embarrassing. ' You can't tackle the way we did in the first half and expect to win,' Shanahan said. 'And when you have six turnovers in a game, there's no chance to win.'
The missed tackling started on the game's second play when safety Kareem Moore was in perfect position ' and unblocked ' to stop Brandon Jacobs for a short gain. Jacobs ran through the tackle for a 39-yard gain to set up New York's first touchdown (10-yard Jacobs run).
By halftime, the Giants led 21-0 and averaged a whopping 6.6 yards per rush attempt (21 carries, 139 yards). Following Jacobs' score, Ahmad Bradshaw posted touchdown runs of 4 and 10 yards.
'I can't get embarrassed like that again,' linebacker Lorenzo Alexander said. 'That's just ridiculous.'
Said Hall: 'Pretty bad. Pretty horrible.'
Already playing without starting cornerback Carlos Rogers and safety LaRon Landry, the Redskins did not have Albert Haynesworth, who was deactivated after missing Friday's practice because of an illness. The Redskins could have used the big man up front against a depleted Giants offensive line that did whatever they wanted.
When a safety (Reed Doughty) leads the team in tackles, including seven solo stops, that's not good.
'You would like them to announce two, three names after a tackle,' Doughty said. 'Anytime you've got one person making a lot of individual tackles, that's not the type of defense anybody wants to play.'
The defense took the blame for not tackling better; the offense deserves blame for their season-high giveaway total (and believed to be the most since a half-dozen at Tampa Bay in November 2007).
Donovan McNabb was responsible for three turnovers (two interceptions and a fumble) and went 26-of-44 for 296 yards. The Redskins' final chance to make the fourth quarter interesting ended when McNabb tried to find Santana Moss in the end zone but the ill-advised throw was intercepted by Terrell Thomas.
Anthony Armstrong, Chris Cooley and Keiland Williams also lost fumbles. The Redskins' only points came on McNabb's 33-yard pass to Armstrong.
So now the Redskins play out the string. Their defense is banged up and been gutted by several teams. Their offense continues to be their own enemy in terms of turnovers, dropped passes and penalties.
Afterward, Shanahan was resolute in his confidence that games like this won't be common occurrences.
'You just have to keep working,' he said. 'It doesn't happen over night ' you're judging all the positions, trying to put the pieces in place. But we'll get there. It's going to take time but we will get there. I promise you that.'
Contact Ryan O'Halloran at email@example.com