- The Washington Times - Monday, December 25, 2000

The Redskins' 20-3 victory over the Cardinals yesterday only vaguely resembled a pro football game. I say this because, at one point in the first quarter, Brad Johnson ran a quarterback sneak on third-and-2 and made it by three yards. When a team runs a quarterback sneak on third-and-2 and makes it by three yards, it's usually playing a game of touch on the Ellipse.

You also have to wonder how serious the proceedings are when 38-year-old Irving Fryar lines up in the backfield and carries the ball 15 yards for a first down. Or when Champ Bailey does likewise and scores the first Washington touchdown. Or when kickoff specialist Scott Bentley, who hasn't attempted a field goal all season, boots a 50-yarder, the Redskins' longest of the year.

Terry Robiskie sure emptied out the playbook yesterday. And why not? There was no need to hold anything back. The team was out of the playoff chase. Might as well have a little holiday fun.

Hopefully, Dan Snyder understands all this. Hopefully, he understands that the events that took place yesterday at FedEx Field don't mean anything. The last thing the Redskins need is an owner who thinks, Hey, we're not so bad. With a little more luck next year, we'll be right where we want to be in the Super Bowl mix.

They certainly don't need an owner thinking that what Bailey did against Arizona he can do every week. In addition to his TD run, Champ intercepted a pass, had a 42-yard reception and returned a punt. Yup, he was a regular George McAfee out there. But remember: He has a month to recover before his next game, in the Pro Bowl. You don't normally have a month to recover between games.

Naturally, Bailey would love to have an expanded role with the Redskins next year. At Georgia, he did everything but line the field, but in Washington his responsibilities have been much more limited. "I've talked about [playing more receiver] a lot and made it known I wanted to do it," he said. "Today I got the opportunity, and I definitely proved I could do it."

If Snyder is smart, he won't be influenced by such lobbying, won't go into the offseason thinking Bailey could double as the team's No. 3 receiver. With Michael Westbrook coming off major knee surgery and Albert Connell, Irving Fryar and James Thrash not guaranteed to return, the Redskins need to sign a functional wideout or two; they don't need to overburden one of the best cornerbacks in the league with offensive duties.

There's a reason Robiskie and Norv Turner used him as a receiver only on a limited basis. As Terry put it, "To have him work half [the practice] on each side of the ball, I think it hurts him." And I agree, wholeheartedly. Are you listening, Dan?

The only thing yesterday's game proved was that the Cardinals wanted to get the season over with more than the Redskins. Have you ever seen a club go belly up faster than the Cards? They were down 20-0 quicker than you could say Norberto Davidds-Garrido. Their defense couldn't stop Fryar's "power" running, and their offense couldn't keep Jake Plummer upright for more than three plays. (He had the wind knocked out of him on his first downfield pass attempt.)

So the Redskins beat a 3-12 team that had lost five games in a row. Big deal. More pertinent to Snyder's offseason planning is or should be this: The Redskins finished 8-8 overall, 4-4 at home, 4-4 on the road, and outscored their opponents by a grand total of 12 points (281-269). In other words, by just about any measurement, they were a thoroughly average club.

And in the heart department, they were probably a little bit below average. Green Bay, Indianapolis and even St. Louis showed a heck of a lot more fight down the stretch than the Redskins did in equally dire circumstances, I might add. How's this for justice, though? Since the Redskins didn't show up in Dallas and Pittsburgh, their fans decided not to show up yesterday. The announced attendance was 65,711, but there must have been 30,000 empty seats. You would have thought it was a preseason scrimmage with a David Clayton Thomas concert as the second act.

"Football is a crazy game," said Brad Johnson, who likely played his last game as a Redskin (record as a starter: 18-11). "There are no guarantees. You look at Jacksonville they didn't make the playoffs. You don't know what's going to happen [going into the last weekend] with Indianapolis or St. Louis. We were one of those teams that was supposed to go to the Super Bowl, but … For me and what our goals were, it was a wasted year."

Brian Mitchell's Eagles are in the playoffs. Matt Turk's Dolphins are in the playoffs. The Baltimore Ravens are in the playoffs. And the Redskins, the $100 million Redskins, will be home watching on TV. What a waste, indeed.

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