- The Washington Times - Monday, November 11, 2002

The Fun 'n' Gun sailed past the Snore 'n' Bore and went straight to the Stumble 'n' Bumble last night.
So much for Washington Redskins coach Steve Spurrier showing the Gator Nation some of that Florida magic. The Redskins activated six receivers for the game, but they were so backed up to their own end zone that quarterback Shane Matthews nearly got a rash from the goalpost. Custer had better field position at the Battle of the Little Bighorn.
The Redskins essentially are in playoff mode now: Their next loss most likely means that their season is done. Oh, let's be honest: The Redskins' chances of making the playoffs are about as good as Ozzy Osbourne getting a haircut and his kids acting like they have some common sense.

Q: You're giving up already? There still are seven games left. How can you brush off the playoffs before you've even raked your first bag of leaves?
A: The Redskins are 4-5 and haven't beaten even one decent team (and Tennessee doesn't count because they play in the awful AFC South). How can they finish 6-1 or 5-2 when they still must face their old nemesis, the Dallas Cowboys, and the New York Giants twice each plus St. Louis and Philadelphia? They'll have to scrap just to finish 8-8.

Q: How important is it to beat the Giants on Sunday? Is it too early for a "must win" game?
A: The Redskins essentially need to beat the Giants and Rams in successive weeks to remain alive especially the Rams because a victory would give the Redskins a tiebreaker edge. A split keeps Washington alive technically, but not realistically.

Q: So much for your midseason tiebreaker analysis in which the Redskins lose out to the Falcons if they finish with identical records. What does Atlanta's 34-34 tie with Pittsburgh mean to Washington's playoff chances?
A: It was the first tie in the NFL since 1997, when Redskins quarterback Gus Frerotte head butted the FedEx Field wall on his way to a 7-7 tie with the Giants. The Falcons' tie probably eliminates the need for any playoff tiebreakers. However, it was a plus for Atlanta, which figured that Pittsburgh was expected to win that game. Surely, Atlanta figures 5-3-1 is better than 5-4.

Q: What's the real scoop on the bad blood between Jacksonville coach Tom Coughlin and Spurrier? Did Coughlin really vow not to lose this game?
A: The rivalry is one-sided because it's only Coughlin who has felt threatened. Spurrier never did anything to prompt any animosity. However, Coughlin joined New Orleans coach Jim Haslett and San Francisco coach Steve Mariucci in getting personal pleasure out of beating the ol' Ball Coach. Dallas coach Dave Campo also wants to join the list, thanks to Spurrier saying that he wanted to make the Cowboys "our Georgia" a reference to the way Spurrier's Gators owned the Bulldogs. The NFL coaching fraternity is a small, petty world, and the old guard is enjoying a chance to beat the $25 million man. Coughlin knew he would never live down losing to Spurrier at home, so he forced players to don full pads on Friday, something teams never do.

Q: What happened to the big homecoming for Spurrier and his Gator 5? How could they score on the first drive and then disappear faster than doughnuts at a police station?
A: It may be time to think about changing quarterbacks again. Shane Matthews hurried his throws too often. Another couple of losses, and it's time to think about the future anyway which means playing Patrick Ramsey.

Q: Haven't we already been through this one, twice, three times this season? You want to change quarterbacks again? Ever heard the expression "re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic?"
A: Matthews may be the Redskins' best passer, but Spurrier always has been one to shuffle the lineup. The Redskins have changed quarterbacks, receivers, guards and even running backs and still can't revitalize the offense. It seems to work in spurts, and maybe another move behind center can bring short-term success.

Q: Did the Redskins miss injured running back Stephen Davis? Backup Kenny Watson didn't seem too bad.
A: Maybe being back in Florida made Spurrier want to throw the ball more. Whatever the reason, Watson wasn't used much when the game was close in the first three quarters. There's no doubt that having Davis would have helped, but the Redskins lost this game through special teams, not a poor running game.

Q: Why does the defense seem to suddenly fall apart late, leading to runaway losses? It played so well for nearly three quarters, and then the Jags just sliced through the defense toward the end.
A: The defense gets worn down and just gives way. They did a standout job of keeping the game close, but the offense did nothing in the second half and gave Jacksonville too many chances.

Q: Is punter Bryan Barker in peril of being cut? His 12-yard punt deep in Redskins territory essentially gave Jacksonville a touchdown.
A: Spurrier appeared to be livid after that gaffe, and rightfully so. Barker's net average is the NFL's worst, and nobody at the bottom has job security.

Q: Why did Jacksonville kick a field goal with 13 seconds left in the first half? It was only third down.
A: It was a gutless call. Excuse-makers could say the Jaguars would get a second chance if the snap was bobbled, but Jacksonville needed to score a touchdown at the time. The Jags should have thrown into the end zone once more. Quarterback Mark Brunell was outstanding and probably wouldn't have thrown an interception, so the field goal opportunity would still have been there.

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