- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 5, 2006

The mailbag dried up over the past week, which is interesting considering the Redskins squandered a 14-0 lead to the Atlanta Falcons, coach Joe Gibbs hedged on whether he was returning next season (he later said he was “definitely” coming back) and the simmering Brandon Lloyd situation.

Translation: Fan apathy or general resignation for the direction of the franchise has set in for the rest of the season. The stadium emptied out quickly with three-plus minutes left Sunday, and only the die-hard Philadelphia fans will make this week’s crowd a biggie.

Q: At the end of the third quarter, the Redskins trailed by 10 points and were near Atlanta territory. The play selection was run, run, run, incomplete pass, punt. Do you think the Colts would have done that? Why not open it up with the Redskins out of the playoff hunt? — Ken

A: I think the Redskins tried to open it up on the pass, which came on third-and-2 from the their 49-yard line. But the Falcons brought pressure, and Jason Campbell’s pass was tipped by safety Lawyer Milloy. The bigger objection I have in regard to opening it up is Joe Gibbs’ aversion to going for it on fourth down.

Against the Falcons, he punted from the Atlanta 36 with the Falcons up 17-14. And he punted from the 49 after Milloy’s pass break up. This is the time of year to go for it on fourth down in those situations.

Q: Have you noticed that the top color commentators in the booth today are mostly ex-NFC East quarterbacks? — William P.

A: Good point. Phil Simms is CBS’ No. 1 analyst, Troy Aikman is Fox’s No. 1 analyst and Joe Theismann is ESPN’s analyst on Monday nights.

Playing in big markets like New York, Dallas and Washington, these quarterbacks faced media several times a week and had side gigs in-season and out-of-season with television and radio stations. When they retired, they were prepared to move into the booth.

Of the three, I rank Aikman the best, followed by Theismann and Simms. All three are better than John Madden.

Q: I can see why moving Andre Carter to linebacker wouldn’t work, but why not Adam Archuleta? The Redskins are apparently stuck with him for a couple years so why not try and get some use out of him? From what I have heard, he’s a workout warrior, so maybe he could add 20 pounds — Joe D.

A: Archuleta played linebacker at Arizona State, so he has experience playing close to the line of scrimmage. But in a 4-3 scheme like the Redskins’ defense, he wouldn’t be a good fit even if he did add weight.

But Archuleta deserves a chance to play his style of defense, and the Redskins would be wise to create ways to take advantage of the strengths he used to play well in St. Louis and receive a $30 million contract from the Redskins. Thinking out loud, how about playing him as a rover-type player with two other safeties performing their duties.

Q: How surprised were you that Gibbs revealed he was having two meetings with Brandon Lloyd about his throwing-the-helmet penalty, among other things? — J. Pitt.

A: It was surprising considering how Gibbs operates. When the question was asked, the assembled media expected an answer saying how Gibbs had met with Lloyd and how the Redskins can’t have that kind of penalty, etc. Instead, Gibbs said there would be two meetings with the receiver and they needed to get on the same page.

Considering that Lloyd has a personal public relations representative who reads everything written about him and often contacts beat reporters about writing positive things about Lloyd, if Gibbs’ goal was to send him a message through the media, consider it sent.

That said, I would be surprised if Lloyd is deactivated for the Eagles game.

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