- The Washington Times - Monday, October 1, 2001

Tony Banks did better than just-cashiered predecessor Jeff George in his first start as the leader of Washington's offense, but the Redskins were still routed in their home opener, 45-13 yesterday by the previously winless Kansas City Chiefs.

Banks, who didn't join the Redskins until Aug. 16 after being waived by Dallas, got Washington into the end zone for the first time in three games but completed just 11 of 27 passes for 116 yards and a lousy 50.8 quarterback rating. Including the field goal that Washington scored on Banks' second series in relief of George in the opening loss at San Diego, he has produced 16 points on 16 possessions. That measly 1-point average is still an improvement on the 22 scoreless drives rung up by George before his release last Wednesday.

"We got beat 45-13 so I would have to give myself an 'F'," Banks said. "As quarterbacks, we get paid to win, not just have moral victories because we scored a touchdown. Rod [Gardner, the rookie receiver who caught a 26-yard touchdown pass from Banks in the second quarter] made a great play. We kept moving the ball over the next few drives, but we were trading field goals for touchdowns. When you do that, you fall behind and you're going to have to throw the ball on every down. We're not a team that can do that right now.

"To operate a passing game as intricate as this one, you've got to have belief. Guys have to know the ball's going to be there and I've got to know they're going to be there. We haven't developed that yet. We made a few plays out there, but we've got to make every play."

Banks made enough to earn praise from beleaguered coach Marty Schottenheimer.

"I thought Tony did a very good job, brought us a spark," Schottenheimer said. "He sets up quickly in the pocket. He stands strong in the pocket. He gives us some mobility. I thought he threw the ball pretty well. We needed the equal of that performance at a lot of other positions. Had we had that, we might have been in better shape."

Banks, who burned two first-half timeouts when he didn't have time to audible before the 25-second clock would have expired, said he's comfortable with the offense, but that after six weeks, it's not second-nature. But receiver Kevin Lockett, who knows the system well from having played in it under Schottenheimer and offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye in Kansas City, said Banks was a victim of butterfingers by his targets.

"Tony threw the ball well and he read the defense well, but we had some drops," Lockett said. "You can't do that. When I dropped a ball [with 2:23 left and the game out of hand], Tony said, 'No matter what the situation is, you've got to hang onto the ball.' "

Offensive tackle Jon Jansen said Banks' positive attitude helps.

"Tony was in charge in the huddle," Jansen said. "He had great enthusiasm, great composure all the way through the game."

Banks said that's his duty.

"You have to be concerned about [our] confidence," Banks said. "That's where a quarterback's leadership role comes in. I was trying to be upbeat all week, trying to get guys in and out of the huddle so they didn't have time to think about the past. It's going to be a similar situation this week [as the Redskins prepare to visit the NFC champion New York Giants]. But I've been in worse situations where there was no light over the horizon. I know what it takes to win and to turn programs around."

This from a quarterback with a 25-37 (.403) career record who was St. Louis' starter the year before the Rams went from also-ran to champion and whose benching last year was pivotal in turning Baltimore from a team with an impotent offense into a Super Bowl winner. And the 0-3 Redskins are about as far from that level as can be imagined.

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