Redskins figure out ways to say 'So what?' over 0-4 preseason

Updated: September 2, 2006, 3:34 AM ET
Associated Press

ASHBURN, Va. -- It's time for the Washington Redskins to bid good riddance to one of the worst preseasons in franchise history.

"Am I glad it's over? Yeah," coach Joe Gibbs said.

Final score: Opponents 104, Redskins 27. Washington's points were its fewest since at least 1961, the earliest year for which team preseason records are available.

The starting offense never scored, never even got into the red zone. The last of the debacles was Thursday night's 17-10 loss to Baltimore, when the Redskins' only touchdown came late in the fourth quarter with only the die-hards still watching.

In the locker room, Gibbs' words were echoed by his players. Sure, if the team had played well, they would have said that the preseason was a springboard for the regular season. As it was, the exhibitions didn't mean squat.

"Nobody really likes preseason," defensive end Andre Carter said. "But it's part of the game. Now that it's over, the real bullets fly. Everything you do from here on out matters. Practices, meetings, film study and the game. It's time to roll."

By now, the stats are familiar. The last time Gibbs went 0-4 in the exhibitions was 1982, the season he won his first Super Bowl. Al Saunders, the assistant coach in charge of the offense, has lost 10 straight preseason games, including his last six in Kansas City, which would appear to back up his statements that he uses the August games to test certain plays rather than concentrate on putting together lasting drives.

Quarterback Todd Collins, who came with Saunders from the Chiefs this offseason, didn't even realize that he had gone winless for two straight preseasons.

"I don't even remember what we were last season or the year before," Collins said. "It's just a different perspective on how to approach the preseason games."

But the question remains: Can the Redskins simply flip on the switch when they open the regular season Sept. 11 against Minnesota? The attitude of Saunders and defensive coach Gregg Williams has been something like: "Yes, we're flunking algebra, but we'll be able to handle calculus."

But Gibbs isn't as confident, at least not in public. Yes, the Redskins have been running simplified schemes, but so have the other teams.

"Everybody else is doing the same thing," Gibbs said. "There's no excuse. They're doing the same thing we're doing, and they end up winning the ballgame."

Still, Gibbs didn't seem particularly upset over his players' performances, and he made clear his focus all along has been on Minnesota and the games that follow. The Hall of Fame coach is usually a master at downplaying expectations, but an 0-4 preseason has done that bit of work for him.

"The next eight days, we've got a lot of straightening out to do," Gibbs said. "And we've certainly got to find a way to play much better."

Game notes
Gibbs said RB Clinton Portis (shoulder) and CB Shawn Springs (abdomen) are the only players whose availability is in serious doubt for the opener. "Most of the other guys are ready to roll," Gibbs said. ... Gibbs gave a vote of confidence to punter Derrick Frost, who ended what had been a shaky preseason with six punts for a 47.2 average against the Ravens. "I feel like he stood up and competed," Gibbs said. "He said, 'I'm the guy." ... Gibbs also said he will stick with kicker John Hall, who went 1-for-2 against Baltimore and 2-for-4 for the preseason. "John's our guy," Gibbs said. "We've got a seasoned, veteran guy there." ... S Reed Doughty's baby was born several weeks premature. Doughty, on the bubble for a roster spot, missed Thursday's game to fly to Colorado to attend the birth. ... The Redskins must cut 22 players from the roster on Saturday, the NFL deadline for establishing a 53-man roster.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

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