Sunday, December 31, 2006
Want to get away? Redskins do, after a 5-11 season
ASHBURN, Va. -- Shawn Springs can't wait to get to the
Caribbean. Santana Moss is going home to Miami. Adam Archuleta also
wants to seek out a place with some sun, where he'll wonder what
his future holds after having a long overdue candid talk with the
All of the Washington Redskins seemed ready for a vacation,
except the birthday boy.
Jason Campbell turned 25 Sunday, and the franchise's quarterback
of the future was the only one who wasn't ready for the team's
excruciating 5-11 season to come to an end. The second half of
Saturday night's 34-28 season-ending loss to the New York Giants
was his best half as a pro: 16-for-22 for 179 yards with two
touchdowns and an interception.
"Once we started moving the ball the way we were moving it, I
wasn't ready for the game to be over," said Campbell, who made his
NFL debut Nov. 19 against Tampa Bay. "I feel like I had just hit
my groove point, and I was just starting to make my strides. And
all of a sudden it's come to an end, and now you've got to start
Campbell's play was one of the few high notes at the end of a
season that began with bold championship talk from coaches and
players. But instead of a gathering around a trophy, the players
assembled on the day after the final game to hear one last speech
from Joe Gibbs, who told them that changes would be made following
the worst season in his 15 years as a head coach.
"He didn't go into any detail because attention spans are
pretty short right now," receiver David Patten said. "Right now
you just want to get away and recuperate."
Gibbs will not address reporters until Monday, but he has given
vague hints about taking different approaches to free agency, the
offseason workout program and the length of training camp. The
coach began discussing offseason strategy with owner Dan Snyder
within minutes of the final whistle Saturday night.
"Something has to be fixed," Springs said. "I won't deny
that. Something has to be changed here. We have way too much
talent, and we have to be better."
Gibbs ordered a rededication to "Redskins football" --
emphasizing running the ball and stopping the run -- with six games
to go, but the team went only 2-4 under the recharged philosophy.
The offense and special teams showed some promise, but the defense
was one of the worst in the league and won't be easy to fix.
The Redskins set an NFL record for fewest takeaways (12) in a
non-strike season and a franchise record for fewest sacks (19).
They missed tackles all over the field when Tiki Barber rushed for
234 yards Saturday night.
"Obviously it's not an easy fix because everybody's trying to
figure out why," middle linebacker Lemar Marshall said. "As a
player, I still don't know, and the coaches still don't know."
The Redskins have most of their key players under contract for
next year -- guard Derrick Dockery and linebacker Warrick Holdman
are the notable exceptions -- but the front office is going to have
to do some fancy renegotiating to stay within the salary cap.
Tackle Chris Samuels, running back Clinton Portis, quarterback Mark
Brunell, defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin, linebacker Marcus
Washington and Springs are due to count more than $6 million each
against the cap next season.
Two players who almost certainly won't be back are running back
T.J. Duckett, who said he was looking forward to testing the free
agent market for the first time after getting just 38 carries all
season, and oft-injured kicker John Hall, who has come to terms
with the fact that the Redskins have found his replacement in
youngster Shaun Suisham.
"He did a great job," Hall said. "They probably wish they had
found him a little earlier in the season."
Then there's Archuleta, who might rank as the most dubious free
agent decision the Redskins have ever made. They gave him the
richest contract ever for a safety -- seven years, $35 million --
then barely played him over the second half of the season for
reasons the coaching staff has never explained.
Archuleta met with Gibbs and three defensive coaches in a
clear-the-air meeting Sunday.
"I think things were expressed that needed to be expressed, and
likewise, so that's where we're at," he said.
Asked if he expects to return, Archuleta said: "You tell me. I
know I'm under a contract, and I'm under a pretty big contract.
Whatever happens is going to work out. If I'm supposed to be here,
it's going to be a great situation. If I'm not supposed to be here,
it's going to be a great situation. And I really believe that."
Other players will deal with medical issues. Portis said he will
need five more months to recover from shoulder surgery; tackle Jon
Jansen will have to rest his calf for a month or so; and Springs
needs about a month for his broken shoulder bone to heal.
And, of course, all the players need to recover from the wounds
"We had a bad season this year," Samuels said. "We've got to
bounce back from it."