- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 26, 2007

It’s incredible how things can change in one week.

After the Washington Redskins‘ win in Philadelphia on Sept. 18, there were grandiose visions of a 5-1 or 6-0 start heading into New England late in October, hopes that the defense may be a top-10 outfit and the running game would survive the loss of two offensive linemen.

Following Sunday’s come-from-ahead loss to the New York Giants, some of the topics on the team’s official message board include: “Time For Gibbs To Go,” “Goal Dis-Oriented” and a personal favorite, “The Sky Is Falling!!!”

Here’s the thing — the Redskins are exactly where most observers (present company included) thought they would be: 2-1.

The Giants loss confirmed these problems for the Redskins: The quarterback often rides a roller coaster, the defense still has deficiencies and the injuries are mounting.

As the Redskins enjoy their off weekend before the final 13-game sprint, here are four timely issues:

1. Campbell’s development

Quarterback Jason Campbell is 4-6 in his 10 NFL starts. He has completed 44 of 84 passes for 621 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions this season. His 69.6 passer rating ranks 27th in the league, and his 52.4 completion percentage ranks 31st.

He’s playing like most young quarterbacks. The good news for Campbell is that his 7.4-yards per completion average is 14th-best, showing the Redskins are getting the ball downfield.

But, the growing pains should last the rest of the season. Expect Campbell to put together drives like he did in Philadelphia in which he’s accurate, converts third downs and scrambles for yards. And expect stretches like last week, when he didn’t complete a pass to a receiver until his 12th attempt.

What the coaches want to see as the season progresses is a higher completion percentage, the same kind of yards-per-completion average and consistent decision making. At the same time, they don’t want to turn Campbell into a passive player.

Two-minute offense

That’s what the class should be named. Incredibly, this has been an issue of debate in each of the Redskins’ three games. This doesn’t fall on the players or the play-caller or the clock operator. It’s all on Coach Joe.

Week 1 vs. Miami: Tied at 13-all with 1:50 remaining, the Redskins — with all of their timeouts — took over at the 29. The first two plays — runs by Ladell Betts — gained a total of 5 yards. The Redskins punted, burning only 55 seconds.

Week 2 at Philadelphia: The Redskins faced second-and-goal from the 1 with 14 seconds remaining in the first half. Three consecutive penalties pushed them back 15 yards. Gibbs sent out the field goal team, only to be bailed out by an Eagles timeout. Campbell cashed in on the opportunity with a touchdown pass to Chris Cooley. Gibbs was undoubtedly worried about a sack or penalty that would have taken the team out of field goal range.

Week 3 vs. Giants: The end-of-game debacle already has been rehashed, but the Redskins wasted a chance at the end of the first half as well. A London Fletcher interception sets up the Redskins at the New York 34 with 1:33 remaining. A 1-yard pass and an 8-yard run preceded a 4-yard loss and a field goal. Why not take a shot at the end zone to try to make it 21-3 at halftime?

Carlos Rogers

Rogers, the Redskins’ third-year cornerback, has been elevated to the top spot because of Fred Smoot’s hamstring injury. When the Redskins have had just one corner on the field the last two games, it’s been Rogers, not veteran Shawn Springs.

The problem: Rogers hasn’t performed well enough to justify his current standing. And opponents know it.

Teams have unofficially thrown at Rogers 23 times in three games, completing 13 of those passes for 144 yards and two touchdowns, including Plaxico Burress’ 33-yard game-winner on Sunday. Rogers has two penalties and two pass breakups.

October will be a huge month for Rogers and the secondary. The Redskins face Detroit (first in passing), Green Bay (sixth), Arizona (13th) and New England (third).

Brandon Lloyd

As a guy with no catches this season and no touchdowns in 18 games with the Redskins, Lloyd is a polarizing figure who represents all that’s wrong with the Redskins’ player procurement philosophy of trading multiple draft picks and handing out big contract extensions.

Gibbs said on his radio show yesterday that Lloyd is the team’s No. 4 receiver. Lloyd fell behind Antwaan Randle El (who has been excellent this season) and now James Thrash. Lloyd doesn’t play special teams and when the Redskins use a four-receiver formation, it’s often Chris Cooley lining up in the slot.

Things may soon come to a head. Reche Caldwell has been with the team since Sept. 11 and should be ready to contribute after the bye. That would leave Lloyd out of the mix since the Redskins generally dress only four receivers.

But don’t expect the team to cut Lloyd in-season. Moss’ lingering groin injury is likely to be a season-long issue, and the inevitable (Lloyd being released) will have to wait until February or March.

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