- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 26, 2001

Washington Redskins coach Marty Schottenheimer is considering starting quarterback Tony Banks instead of Jeff George against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.

Schottenheimer yesterday called the change a "possibility" and said that he still had to "visit" with George two buzzwords that previously signaled a change would be made. Schottenheimer could make a decision as soon as today.

Even if Schottenheimer makes no decision immediately, it is clear the coach is scrambling to find a solution to perhaps the worst start in team history. The Redskins are 0-2, have scored just three points and are coming off an embarrassing 37-0 loss to the Green Bay Packers before a national television audience on "Monday Night Football".

"Everybody has to realize on our football team that there's an accountability, a responsibility to perform," Schottenheimer said yesterday. "The bottom line is we're not making enough first downs and we're not making enough yardage. You evaluate everything when you're in a situation like this. We all have to look at ourselves."

George has struggled badly in nearly seven quarters of play: He completed 23 of 42 passes for 168 yards with three interceptions for a league-worst 34.6 quarterback rating. George seems uncomfortable in an offense designed more for high-percentage passes than his trademark deep throws. However, George did not blame the shoulder tendinitis that forced him to miss much of preseason for his poor production.

"We're all used to the system. We've all been here awhile," he said. "That's just an excuse. We're just getting our butts kicked. You could sugarcoat it and say you have to win two parts offense, defense and special teams but if the offense plays well that dictates things."

Banks completed seven of 14 attempts for 53 yards in a 30-3 loss to San Diego on Sept. 9. He led the Redskins to a field goal the team's only points of the season. However, team sources said plays were explained to him in the huddle during the game. Banks had signed just 24 days earlier after being released by the Dallas Cowboys, and he knew less than half the Redskins plays. Banks since has had time to learn the entire playbook.

Schottenheimer made it clear he won't greatly change the offensive scheme even though the Redskins rank 31st overall and 30th in rushing and passing.

"The worst thing that Marty Schottenheimer can do is, in this circumstance after two regular season games, abandon the things I believe in. And I will not do that," he said. "We haven't been able to get it synchronized. The continuity is not there. It's there for a play or two. You're trying to get your offense, your defense and special teams to work hand-in-hand in each phase. Obviously, that's not happening and it's not good enough in any phase yet."

However, some players believe drastic changes are needed to revive an offense that has played poorly since the start of preseason.

"Two games, three points that's embarrassing," George said.

Indeed, players are angry and humiliated. The Green Bay loss was the team's worst since a 62-3 pasting by Cleveland in 1954. Players want a better return for an exhaustive training camp and feel there's enough talent for a respectable offense.

But the new West Coast offense routinely has come up short on third downs, converting only five of 23. The Redskins have gained only 298 yards in two games, lost four of 10 fumbles, thrown three interceptions and drawn 14 penalties. The Redskins offense has taken the ball across midfield for five plays and never taken the ball past the 45-yard line.

"I've never been on a team where we had to struggle just to get 100 total yards," said running back Stephen Davis. "I've never been on a team where we only scored three points in two games."

Said receiver Michael Westbrook: "This is ridiculous. To work as long as we did those were the longest two-a-days I've been involved in and the hardest practices I've been involved in and come in here and not score touchdowns in two games is embarrassing. It's not working. I don't know where to go from here."

The Redskins have been plagued by various breakdowns. Davis delivered his grittiest performance in two seasons against the Packers, despite gaining only 65 yards on 13 carries. But the passing game has lacked either timing or time to throw or has used questionable playcalling.

"We start to get a rhythm and boom something happens," center Cory Raymer said.

The Redskins are supposed to be a run-first offense, but trailing 20-0 in the second quarter to San Diego and 20-0 in the third quarter to Green Bay meant forgoing Davis for the predictable passing game. Davis wants to return to his 1999 pace when "Believe in Stephen" led the team to its only playoff berth since 1992.

"What do we do best?" Davis said of the running game. "That's what we need to do. We were down 10 points at halftime. You've got to run the ball. That's all I can say."

Davis said some poor training camp habits by some players haven't been broken.

"I think a lot of it started in preseason," Davis said. "We had a lot of guys dropping passes, not staying on blocks, things like that, but that's what the preseason is for to get us ready for the regular season. Now it seems like we're not ready for the season. We're going out getting our [butt] whooped. It's unheard of. We've got too many good guys on this team, as far as athletic ability, to be playing like that."

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