- The Washington Times - Monday, December 16, 2002

The Washington Redskins should be glad there won't be another stadium closing in Pennsylvania soon.
The Redskins' 24-3 loss to Pittsburgh in the final game at Three Rivers Stadium in 2000 was considered one of the club's worst efforts in the post-Joe Gibbs era. They flat gave up that day.
However, the debacle yesterday in Philadelphia rivaled it for sheer folly: The Eagles scored in ridiculous ways in the regular-season finale at Veterans Stadium and earned a 34-21 triumph. The score was that close only because the Eagles let down in the second half.
The Redskins showed less emotion than the guards at Buckingham Palace. They stood around and watched the Eagles play a pretty good game. The touchdown the Eagles scored on a 44-yard fumble return was absurd.
Two games to go before the offseason. Seems like a waste of holiday weekends.

Q: So much for avoiding a losing season. The Redskins are now 5-9. Can they at least win one of the last two games?
A: Probably not. That's too bad, because both the Texans and Cowboys stink. The Redskins can't score any more now than they could in the Marty Ball offense, which is to say they can't score until their opponent gets a big lead.

Q: This is getting embarrassing. Whatever happened to the Fun 'n' Gun? What's the $5million salary of coach Steve Spurrier buying?
A: The Redskins are getting tech stock returns on this deal. On one drive, the Fumble 'n' Stumble couldn't pick up a first down even after the Eagles jumped offside twice. The running game has been abandoned, sometimes for good reason. Redskins fans early on figured that this might not be a playoff season, but they at least expected it to be interesting. Nope. This season has been duller than "Maid in Manhattan."

Q: What's the matter with the offense? Why can't Ball Coach score points the way he did in preseason?
A: Changing quarterbacks five times was a big mistake. How can there be a sense of continuity when someone new keeps showing up in the huddle? That goes for receivers, too. Patrick Ramsey obviously is the best quarterback the Redskins have, and it was a mistake to not play him earlier. Not using running back Stephen Davis more often in several games also hurt. The play by the guards has been shaky throughout the season.

Q: But what about the defense? It was supposed to be a top-10 unit, but opponents still score against it regularly.
A: Losing linebacker Jeremiah Trotter and tackle Dan Wilkinson to injury didn't help. However, the Redskins' safeties have been mediocre and the pass rush often nonexistent. And there's this: The offense regularly has given up great field position, position that guarantees points for the other team.

Q: Ramsey looked good. Why did the Redskins wait so long to make him the starter?
A: There were two factors no matter how much the Redskins deny them. First, Ramsey's 16-day holdout ticked off Spurrier. Owner Dan Snyder drafted Ramsey over Spurrier's objections, so the coach didn't feel any obligation to give the rookie preferential treatment. Second, Spurrier wanted to give Danny Wuerffel a chance. Wuerffel would have started yesterday if he had stayed healthy.

Q: Doesn't Ramsey go into the offseason as the starter for next year? Will Spurrier still give Wuerffel another chance next summer?
A: You better believe Wuerffel will get another opportunity to start, even though Ramsey is the obvious choice. The question is whether another free agent quarterback will become available and bump both of them.

Q: Why did the Redskins throw short on fourth down with 3:22 remaining? The play had no chance of success.
A: Holy Jimmy Raye. Memo to Redskins: That big orange marker on the sideline is the first-down indicator. Three of four receivers were short of the first down on that play, which is just dumb. Even if tight end Zeron Flemister had caught the ball on the sideline, he would have had no room to maneuver for the first down. It was a crucial mental mistake for a team trailing by 10 points.

Q: Was that the end for Stephen Davis? Can he return in the last two games?
A: Even if Davis could come back from his separated shoulder, why would he? Why should he risk further injury at the end of the season for a team that is ready to kick him to the curb in the offseason? Davis needs 85 yards to surpass Larry Brown as the Redskins' No.2 rusher of all time, but he's not going to get it. The Redskins will get a long look at Ladell Betts, which is what they really need to do anyway.

Q: Did Betts do enough to reinforce the Redskins' belief that he should start next year?
A: Running back is not a big priority in Spurrier's offense. Kenny Watson and Betts both probably will run often next season, but neither will match the past contributions of Davis.

Q: How does former Redskin Brian Mitchell still perform well for the Eagles? Why did the Redskins ever let him go?
A: Because former general manager Vinny Cerrato didn't think Mitchell was any good. So, Cerrato cut him in 2000 to allow the Redskins to sign cornerback Deion Sanders. It's just one of many big goofs made by the front office since Snyder bought the team in 1999, mistakes that continue to hurt the organization.

Q: Was the weeklong, on-and-off departure of defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis a factor in the defense's slow start?
A: No, this team is used to chaos in the coaching offices; after all, it has had four defensive coordinators in four years. What's one more change? Lewis worked on a game plan Monday and Tuesday before he decided to stay, so it probably wasn't a factor.

Q: Pro Bowl players are announced Thursday, and Redskin of the Year is named tomorrow. Who's going to be honored?
A: Linebacker LaVar Arrington is the heavy favorite for Redskin of the Year, a pick made by the local media. Cornerback Champ Bailey and Arrington should head to Hawaii for the Pro Bowl, and offensive tackle Chris Samuels also is a possibility. Offensive tackle Jon Jansen will get overlooked again. Defensive tackle Daryl Gardener should be considered, too.

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