- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 25, 2001

GREEN BAY, Wis. The Redskins pose a bigger threat to one another right now than they do to the rest of the NFL. It was hard not to notice last night that two of the bigger collisions in the game were Bruce Smith banging into LaVar Arrington on a pass rush (LaVar limping off with a sprained knee) and Kevin Mitchell crunching Fred Smoot as they converged on a Green Bay ball carrier (Smoot wobbling light-headedly to the bench).

If the Redskins can just turn that aggression on the opposition, they might yet make something of this season. But at this point they can't get out of their own way figuratively and literally.

The best you can say about their performance against the Packers is that their defense dug in its cleats and kept the score respectable for a half before the game turned into a 37-0 joke. Brett Favre and Co. gained some yards they always do but the Redskins kept them out of the end zone three times in a row in second and third quarters, holding them to a couple of field goals, to avoid a second straight early blowout.

Yes, there were actual signs of progress for Washington on that side of the ball, at least. Except for one loose series in the second quarter, the Redskins did a pretty fair job of stopping the run (until things got out of hand, that is). And if Favre hadn't thrown the ball through a keyhole a few times, most notably on a 12-yard pass to Antonio Freeman for the first points of the evening, you could have said the same thing about the work of the secondary.

But none of this should come as any great surprise. We've known since the offseason, when Marty Schottenheimer started letting people like Tre Johnson, Larry Centers and James Thrash go, that the strength of this club was going to be its defense. What is a bit surprising, though, is how utterly hopeless the offense has been. These guys have played together for six games now four in the preseason, two in the real season and they still look like they were just introduced.

Seriously, the St. Louis Rams score touchdowns easier than the Redskins make first downs. OK, I'm exaggerating, but not by much. Heck, this offense has trouble putting three decent plays together, never mind a whole drive. We haven't seen this kind of impotence since Rod Dowhower's Reign of Error in '93, when the Redskins averaged fewer yards per pass than any team in almost 60 years.

The offense has absolutely nothing going for it. There's no running game. There's no passing game. There doesn't even seem to be much of a plan. On their first two possessions last night the Redskins had a third-and-8, and on both occasions Jeff George hit Michael Westbrook for a six-yard gain. What's the logic of that? (Meanwhile, out in San Diego, Norv Turner's Chargers are racking up 30 points a week. Not to rub salt in the wound or anything.)

But my favorite call came on third-and-inches at the Washington 27 early in the second quarter. It was still a 7-0 game at this stage (though, with the Redskins' offense, 7-0 feels like 70-0). Anyway, offensive boss Jimmy Raye decided to cross up the Packers with a play-action pass, only George couldn't find anybody open. So he tried to scramble for the first down not exactly his strong suit and came up short. Hey, if you can't convert that one, you might as well just quick kick.

It's doubtful any quarterback could be productive in the Redskins' offense. That said, George isn't responding well to the situation. He had a killer interception at the outset of the second half failing to get the ball over the linebacker when he had all kinds of time to throw and followed that up with a one-hopper to a wide-open Stephen Alexander after the Redskins had ventured into opposition territory. (Which is something they do about as often as Dan Snyder smiles.)

Schottenheimer has to think real hard this week about whether he wants to turn to Tony Banks against Kansas City and stick George on waivers. Why get rid of George instead of simply benching him? Because if he isn't going to start, what good is he? He brings zero intangibles to the locker room. Better to cut your losses (and start preparing for the 2002 draft, when the Redskins, at this rate, will be picking second behind Charley Casserly's Houston Texans).

It's hard to remember a Redskins team that was so uncompetitive. Getting outscored 67-3 in the first two games when you're trying to launch A New Era? Losing by one of the biggest margins in the history of "Monday Night Football"? But here's the scary thing: I'm not sure the Redskins have hit bottom yet.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide