- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Two weeks ago, following an 0-2 start that featured one touchdown in 23 possessions, the Washington Redskins’ offense was like dial-up Internet service, sitting in a commuter airplane and watching an umpteenth version of “SportsCenter.” Slow. Painful. Boring.

The last two weeks, though, have shown what the offense can do when everyone is up to speed.

“We have a huge play book and there’s a lot there,” receiver Antwaan Randle El said. “But we’ve taken it all in and soaked it up.”

The benefits of absorbing Al Saunders’ offense are beginning to show, and as a result, the Redskins are back even at the season’s quarter pole — 2-2 entering Sunday’s game at the New York Giants.

The Redskins knew they needed wins against Houston and Jacksonville. But the way the offense has performed has elevated optimism to a new level, the frustrations of losses to Minnesota and Dallas long forgotten.

That’s what happens when two consecutive wins feature 67 points, 976 yards, two individual 100-yard rushing performances and two solid passing games by quarterback Mark Brunell.

Now the offense — which moved from 26th in yards and 24th in scoring two weeks ago to third in yards and 10th in scoring entering last night’s Green Bay-Philadelphia game — is like using high-speed Internet, lounging in a private jet, and an umpteenth “Seinfeld” repeat. Fast. Comfortable. Entertaining.

“We’re getting guys back on the field and when you get everybody going in the same direction and have the common goal, these kinds of things can happen,” running back Clinton Portis said.

Jacksonville entered the game ranked third in fewest yards allowed, second in first downs and tied for third in scoring. The Redskins responded with 481 yards, 22 first downs and 36 points.

“It seems as though in the last two weeks, we’ve gained momentum and that’s a real plus for us,” coach Joe Gibbs said yesterday. “We’re starting to get more downfield plays, which is a big deal.”

A bigger deal is how the Redskins have gradually built the momentum.

After limited time against Minnesota and missing the loss to Dallas, Portis returned against Houston on Sept. 24 to spark the running game. With his help, including a 74-yard catch-and-run, a short passing game also began to work.

Against Jacksonville, a new layer of the offense was revealed, one involving Chris Cooley and Brandon Lloyd, relying on Portis for yeoman’s work and giving their best play maker (Moss) the ball in areas of the field where he can make things happen. Moss’ three touchdowns featured nearly 100 yards in post-reception gains.

Couple that with better work on third down (7-for-14) and fewer penalties (four) and the Redskins’ offense is clicking heading into this week’s NFC East game at the Giants.

That offense starts with the running game, which ranks sixth in the NFL with 145.5 yards a game.

Story Continues →