- The Washington Times - Monday, November 27, 2000

The Redskins gained 326 yards yesterday against one of the best defenses in the league and, frankly, I don't know how they managed it. They didn't have Brad Johnson. They didn't have Stephen Davis. They didn't have Michael Westbrook or, for most of the game, Albert Connell. They didn't have six players who were supposed to start for them on offense this season, including three Pro Bowlers. Tell me, Dan Snyder, is this team insured?

Here's how bad it has gotten for the Redskins offense: Keith Sims is starting to look healthy. Yes, the same Keith Sims who has been gimping around with Achilles' tendinitis for the past two months, just trying to get through the games. Sims' injury is a mere flesh wound compared to the torn ACLs and sprained knees and fractured forearms that have afflicted the offense lately. One of these days, I expect the offense to break out of its huddle and line up with only 10 guys because that's all that are left.

The scoreboard said the Redskins lost to the Eagles yesterday 23-20, but that wasn't the Redskins out there. It was Jeff George, Skip Hicks, Adrian Murrell, James Thrash, Irving Fryar and Andre Reed (among others). Heck, even Hicks pulled up lame before the afternoon was over. If the game had gone into overtime and for a while it was looking that way the Redskins might have had to start punting on first down.

The sad truth is, we'll never know how good this Redskins team could have been. It's 7-5 and fighting for its playoff life now, but it obviously could have been so much more if the fates hadn't been so unkind. No club has enough depth to take the hits the Redskins' offense has taken, not in this diluted day and age.

"You have to go on," George said. "You don't replace a Stephen Davis, but we felt there were some things we could do. We just didn't make the plays we had to on the goal line. When you get eight tries from the 1-yard line, you've got to punch it in."

Actually, the Redskins had six cracks from the 3-yard line. But who's counting? This was in the fourth quarter, after a pass interference penalty against Philadelphia put them on the Eagles' doorstep. They were trailing 20-17 at the time, and a touchdown probably would have won them the game. But they wound up settling for a field goal, even after a defensive holding call gave them a new set of downs at the 1.

This was where they really missed Davis not to mention Tre Johnson and Cory Raymer. Three times George handed off to Hicks and Murrell; net gain: nothing. George also misfired on a pass to Larry Centers in the right flat. If the throw had been true, Centers could have walked into the end zone.

"He was wide open," said George. "Maybe that's the problem. He was too wide open."

Other than that, though, George got about as much out of the Washington offense as anyone could have. How many quarterbacks could go 25 for 43 for 288 yards and two TDs against the league's No. 9 defense with no running game and a receiving corps consisting of the team's third, fourth and fifth wideouts? George made Thrash and Fryar (a combined nine catches for 171 yards and one score) look like Randy Moss and Cris Carter. Well, almost.

"We tried to mix it up," Norv Turner said. "We got into the passing game more, and we made some plays to give us a chance."

They just didn't have the players to execute them because, as I said, they have no offense left. The other time they got inside the Philly 10, they stalled, too. Murrell gained two yards, then lost one, then Centers got pushed back two more on a pass reception.

To their credit, the Redskins didn't use their injuries as an alibi. "We missed our starters today," Fryar said, "but that's no excuse for us to lose the game."

George extolled the virtues of Thrash, who miraculously has emerged as the team's most dependable receiver. "I have so much confidence in James Thrash," he said. "I feel I can put it up [anywhere], and he'll come down with it."

Glad he feels that way, because he and Brad Johnson are going to have to keep on throwing to Thrash. They don't have any choice. Westbrook ain't coming back, and there's no telling how long Connell will be out. Right now, it's Thrash, Fryar and pray for rain, folks.

You ask yourself: Can the Redskins possibly get through the rest of the season without losing anybody else? Seriously, how much more must this team endure?

"You just have to take your punches and roll with 'em," Stephen Alexander said philosophically.

Suppose so. But the Redskins sure could use a standing eight count about now.

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