PHILADELPHIA — Each week the Washington Redskins preach the same things: balance the offense, limit the number of big plays on defense and show the discipline to avoid penalties.
But as yesterday’s 27-3 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles again demonstrated, the Redskins have trouble practicing what they preach.
“We’ve talked about everything and tried to correct things,” cornerback Shawn Springs said. “But we’re not getting it done.”
The offense still has trouble finishing drives and now must play without running back Clinton Portis, who broke a bone in his right ring finger and will miss three to four weeks. The defense still has trouble allowing field-flipping plays. And the penalty problem resurfaced with eight for 70 yards after a one-game respite.
The Redskins (3-6), unable to cash in on the momentum created by last week’s win over the Dallas Cowboys, have become pushovers away from FedEx Field. They have lost their last three road games by 19, 14 and 24 points and have been outscored 105-67 in five road contests this season.
As with every ugly Redskins loss, the focus starts with the quarterback. Mark Brunell completed 16 of 31 passes (with one interception) for only 132 yards and a season-low 49.4 passer rating. With nine minutes remaining, coach Joe Gibbs told Todd Collins to warm up so he could finish the game. The Eagles, however, never gave up the ball, and Collins never got his chance to play.
“I talked about doing that because it had been a tough day for Mark,” Gibbs said.
The Redskins next face a Tampa Bay Buccaneers team that is 2-6 entering tonight’s game at Carolina. Is Sunday’s game the right time to give young third-string quarterback Jason Campbell a look?
“I don’t have any initial thoughts,” Gibbs said. “I know everybody will be wanting to talk about it.”
Brunell was involved in one of yesterday’s three game-changing plays, each of which went in Philadelphia’s favor and resulted in a touchdown.
Trailing 3-0, the Redskins entered Eagles territory on their second possession. But a 10-yard intentional grounding penalty on Brunell moved the Redskins out of field goal position. After an incompletion, they punted.
On the first play of the Eagles series, McNabb hit Donte Stallworth in stride for an 84-yard touchdown. Springs had the original coverage before giving way to Sean Taylor. When Stallworth faked an outside move, Taylor bit and was burnt.
“We had to be at our best to keep them from making big plays because their quarterback is great and they’re certainly capable of making plays,” Gibbs said. “But I can’t stand here and say it’s just the defense.”
Nick Novak missed wide right on a 48-yard field goal attempt on the Redskins’ next drive, and the Eagles used the good field position to take a 17-0 lead on a wacky play.
On third-and-15 from the Eagles 45, McNabb threw 20 yards to Reggie Brown. Brown was hit by Springs, and the ball popped loose — right to Eagles running back Correll Buckhalter at the 37. Buckhalter ran through Taylor’s attempted tackle for a touchdown and a 17-0 lead 10:44 before halftime.