- The Washington Times - Friday, October 5, 2001

It was the series the Washington Redskins have promised for 10 months. The modified West Coast offense moved 71 yards on 13 plays, and three receivers and two runners each gained more than 10 yards.

The Redskins managed only a field goal on the opening series of the 45-13 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, but the offense flashed the versatility that had long been expected and seldom seen. No matter that receiver Rod Gardner and tight end Stephen Alexander made end zone catches that were ruled just inches out of bounds; the offense finally had dictated plays to the defense.

The Redskins got on the scoreboard three times against the Chiefs after scoring just three points in two previous games. It wasn't a playoff caliber effort, but it was a spark coach Marty Schottenheimer hopes finally awakens the dormant offense.

"Once you get it going, the confidence level begins to rise and you don't worry about the mistake you might make," he said.

The Redskins scored their first touchdown of the season on a 10-yard pass from Tony Banks to Gardner, following a 31-yard pass interference penalty, to close to 14-10 late in the second quarter.

"When we scored that touchdown, I was fired up," Alexander said. "I said 'We've done it. That's all we needed. The pressure's off.' We didn't put the points on the board we hoped for, but we're taking the right steps."

Washington finally opened the deeper passing routes for the first time. However, the defense permitted touchdowns on the Chiefs' next two drives, forcing the Redskins to resume their passing-only offense against a defense that permitted only a field goal.

Now the "Believe in Stephen" offense that led Washington to the 1999 NFC East title may return when the Redskins visit the New York Giants on Sunday. The 14-point underdogs need running back Stephen Davis to get around 25 carries, because he gets better as the game progresses. It would also keep the Redskins' last-ranked defense off the field against a strong Giants running game. Davis, who missed two practices with a sprained ankle, is expected to play.

"This [offense] is built around Stephen Davis running the ball," Banks said. "When you're averaging [4.5] yards, you have to feed a guy like that."

Banks must also improve on his 11-for-27 performance with one touchdown and one interception. He has to continue finding his second and third options or occasionally scramble. Schottenheimer said that was the offensive difference during Banks' first start since replacing released quarterback Jeff George.

"The quarterback stepped up and did it," Schottenheimer said. "If it wasn't there, he went somewhere else with it. If it broke down, he took off running with it."

Banks took pride in simply breaking the huddle correctly after joining the Redskins only Aug. 16.

"That was the biggest thing for me game management, calling plays and getting out of the huddle," he said.


LaVar probable

Linebacker LaVar Arrington was upgraded to probable for Sunday's game after practicing yesterday. Arrington's return would be a surprise, considering that a grade-two sprained knee often needs two to four weeks' rest. Arrington, who did not play against the Chiefs last Sunday, skipped the final contact drills but handled the needed horizontal cuts.

"I don't know how many people recover that quickly from a knee injury, but I feel confident I can play this week," he said. "I'm 23. My joints feel pretty good."

Schottenheimer won't decide Arrington's status until Sunday. Arrington said he won't really know how his knee will react until the game.

"If my leg tells me, 'No, don't do this,' on the first play, I have to listen to my body," he said. "But right now my body says I'm all right to give this a shot."

Meanwhile, receiver Michael Westbrook (bruised hip) and Davis are listed as probable for Sunday and will return to practice today. Both worked only on conditioning the past two days. Westbrook is expected to play but may have a limited role. Fullback Donnell Bennett (toe) and returner Michael Bates (heel) practiced after resting Wednesday.

Schottenheimer also said defensive end Marco Coleman will be out several more weeks with a dislocated elbow after already missing one game.


Smoot honored

Cornerback Fred Smoot was named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month for his two interceptions, one recovered fumble and one forced fumble during the 0-3 start in September.

"It's the first of many," Smoot said. "I really just wanted to win some games and the fame will come."

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide