Monday, September 18, 2006
Redskins' offense not making its points
ASHBURN, Va. -- With eight minutes to play against the
Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins receivers Santana Moss, Brandon
Lloyd and Antwaan Randle El had one catch apiece. Tight end Chris
Cooley had none.
That's a lot of talent going to waste.
"We've got playmakers there. We are disappointed in it," coach
Joe Gibbs said Monday. "We've got guys there that we think can
make great contributions to the team. Right now, we're not able to
get them the ball. If we continue with that, we're going to be in
There's plenty of blame to go around.
The Redskins are 0-2 following Sunday night's 27-10 beating by
their archrival, and the offense has scored only one touchdown
through the first eight quarters of the season. Next week's game at
hapless Houston has moved from "sure win" to "must win," and
quarterback Mark Brunell, offensive guru Al Saunders and the
offensive line all under scrutiny.
"I'm definitely concerned," center Casey Rabach said. "With
the talent we have here, the coaching staff we have here, the
preparation all week that we have, I don't understand what's not
clicking in these games."
For starters, Brunell is playing the way he did two years ago,
when he lost his job in midseason. He is 9-for-22 for 81 yards on
third downs through two games, a 32.6 rating that is next-to-last
in the league. His first interception of the season, a floater
snagged in double coverage by Dallas safety Roy Williams at the
1-yard line, sapped the only momentum the Redskins had in the
"Mark's a little bit like our offense in general," Gibbs said.
"Inconsistent. I think he's made some very good plays for us. I
think it's just a matter of us all getting in a groove."
There's not a quarterback controversy yet, especially with
career backup Todd Collins and inexperienced Jason Campbell as the
only alternatives. Besides, the offense's woes go beyond Brunell.
Saunders was given $2 million a year to bring his high-scoring
Kansas City offense to Washington, but his 700-page play book
doesn't seem to have a way to solve the basic "Cover 2" zone
defense. Moss was visibly agitated Monday as he discussed the deep
coverages that are keeping the Redskins from getting the ball
"You're going to be frustrated because they keep showing that
kind of coverage," Moss said. "If you finally get open -- and they
finally give you that man-to-man coverage -- you can't execute
because Mark's running for his life."
A strong running game will beat a Cover 2, but Ladell Betts and
T.J. Duckett combined for 64 yards on just 16 carries Sunday, with
Clinton Portis missing the game with a shoulder injury. Gibbs said
the team isn't running ball enough, a byproduct of the inability to
keep drives alive. The Redskins are 6-for-27 in third-down
While Portis' absence is significant, the holes aren't being
opened by the offensive line -- the same line that allowed Brunell
to get sacked six times by the Cowboys.
Then there's the defense, which allowed five first downs on
penalties. The secondary again looked suspect without injured
cornerback Shawn Springs. Pass-rusher Andre Carter is so far a
non-factor, and the Redskins have only two sacks in two games.
The Redskins were whistled for 11 penalties for 117 yards on
Sunday, and Gibbs said he carefully reviewed every infraction with
each player involved.
"We're an aggressive secondary so they're watching us real
close," said cornerback Mike Rumph, who got things started with a
holding penalty on Dallas' first drive. "The little things that
some other teams might have gotten away with, we're not getting
Gibbs acknowledged there are many theories about the Redskins'
struggles, but he rebuffed most of them. Has Saunders' play book
has overwhelmed the offense?
"All of us inside don't feel that way."
Is 36-year-old Brunell is getting too old?
"I don't see that."
While the coach didn't offer any immediate solutions, he did
indicate some regret over the way he conducted the preseason. He
had his lightest, shortest training camp ever and ran very little
of the team's new offensive schemes during a confidence-sapping 0-4
"Will I approach preseason next year the way I approached it
this year? Probably not," Gibbs said.
Later, he added: "I'll probably approach right now everything
different -- unless we get this straightened out."