- The Washington Times - Monday, November 11, 2002

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. Washington's offense has gone South. After Rod Gardner's 20-yard touchdown catch on the opening drive, the Redskins didn't score again in an embarrassing 26-7 loss to the previously reeling Jacksonville Jaguars.
This after scoring just three points in the second half of a 26-21 victory over Indianapolis on Oct. 27 and none in last week's 14-3 triumph at Seattle. That's 24 points in 2 games and just three points after halftime the last three weeks. That's hardly what Redskins owner Dan Snyder expected when he hired dynamic offensive coach Steve Spurrier to replace the ultra-conservative Marty Schottenheimer in January.
"We seem to play well in the first quarter and after that we can't do anything," quarterback Shane Matthews said. "I'm the guy who's supposed to be in charge out there [but] I can't put a finger on any one thing."
The Redskins were hurt by their lack of efficiency on third downs (three of 12) and by starting three possessions inside their 8. And then there was Spurrier's stubborn insistence on throwing against the 26th-ranked run defense.
Fourteen of Washington's final 17 plays of the first half not counting rookie quarterback Patrick Ramsey's Hail Mary on the last snap were passes even though the Redskins were ahead or tied the entire time. And halfback Kenny Watson starting for the injured Stephen Davis for the second straight week had run six times for 36 yards prior to those final 17 plays. All told, Spurrier called 53 passes and just 16 runs.
"I guess I was dumb enough to think we could throw it up and down the field," Spurrier said. "We ran a little bit here and there, had a little success early and we got away from it too much. In the second quarter, I kept thinking, from midfield we can throw the ball from there. I called a lousy game."
Matthews, who returned to the lineup three weeks ago, has regressed badly after a strong first half against Indianapolis on Oct. 27. He completed just 10 of 27 passes for 114 yards against the Seahawks. Yesterday's numbers 27-of-50 for 256 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions, were better, but still added up to a miserable 58.4 passer rating.
"I didn't get it done," said Matthews, who never looked comfortable.
Matthews badly overthrew receiver Derrius Thompson on the game's first play, and on first-and-10 at the Jacksonville 16, Matthews inexplicably threw the ball into the ground, drawing an intentional grounding penalty.
"They had everybody covered and I thought I had slid out of the pocket [which would have prevented the penalty], but I should have just slung it out of the back of the end zone," said Matthews, who did finish off the drive with a 20-yard touchdown pass to receiver Rod Gardner on third-and-15.
Matthews seemed to have taken a 4-yard sack on the next series, but the officials ruled he had thrown the ball out of bounds just before he crossed the sideline. However, that was only a temporary reprieve as Matthews made a poor decision on first-and-10 at the Jacksonville 35, throwing deep to well-covered wideout Jacquez Green and having Jaguars cornerback Jason Craft pick off the pass in the end zone.
"I guess the momentum turned then," Matthews said. "The guy made a good play."
On Washington's second series of the second quarter, Matthews threw a pass away without real serious pressure, was penalized for delay of game and burned a timeout when he faced an unexpected defensive alignment. By the time Washington fell behind 23-7 late in the third quarter, Matthews was 15-for-28 for 151 yards, and eight of those completions had gone to backs or tight ends with only two passes gaining more than 12 yards.
And yet, Spurrier said the job still belongs to Matthews.

Shank city
Redskins punter Bryan Barker continues to look like he's at the end of his 13-year career. Barker, who came into the game with a league-worst 30.1-yard net average, shanked a 12-yard punt from his end zone and gave Jacksonville the ball on the Washington 21. That set up the Jaguars' game-tying touchdown with 9:11 remaining in the second quarter.
"The ball slipped out of my hands," said Barker, a Jaguar from 1995 to 2000. "I was lucky to even get any foot on it at all."
Late in the second quarter, Barker was backed up in the end zone again. This time, his punt went 33 yards before going out of bounds. Jacksonville took over at the Washington 35 with 1:28 left in the half and produced Tim Seder's go-ahead, 27-yard field goal which made it 10-7 at intermission.
"When you kick the ball out of bounds, you never really get a true spot," Barker said. "I thought I had hit nice and high in the right direction and it kept drifting."
Barker averaged only 31.4 yards on five punts, his sixth straight game under 40 yards.
"They beat us in the punting game," Redskins coach Steve Spurrier said. "We're going to live with Bryan Barker and hope that he can punt a little bit better."

Off the crossbar
Washington trailed 13-7 when James Tuthill lined up for a 49-yard field goal with 6:37 left in the third quarter. Tuthill, who had made seven of eight attempts the past three games, thought he had nailed another until the ball bounded off the crossbar.
"I turned to Bryan [Barker] and said good hold and he then he told me what had happened," said Tuthill, whose only other miss in 10 tries smacked off the left upright in Green Bay. "I couldn't believe it. I hit it exactly the way I wanted to hit it."

Familiar faces
Redskins defensive end Renaldo Wynn spent the past five years with the Jaguars and lives in Jacksonville during the offseason. He shared a sack with rookie end LaDairis Jackson but that was his only tackle in a loss he took personally
"This one really hurts," Wynn said. "[The Jaguars] were pretty cool after the game, but they gave me that little smile and said we'd talk during the offseason."
Jaguars defensive end Marco Coleman, who played the past three years with the Redskins, had a nice chat with Washington offensive tackle Jon Jansen after the game and said he doesn't plan to gloat too badly the next time he sees any of his ex-teammates.
"I won't put it in their faces, but I can say, 'Who won the game?'" said Coleman, who only had one tackle. "This is one that's good to be able to have."
Redskins receiver Rod Gardner is a Jacksonville native and had scored in Alltel Stadium while playing for Raines High School.
"I wish we could play in Jacksonville every week because I'm home and I had my family watching," said Gardner, who caught a 20-yard touchdown pass from Shane Matthews on the first drive. "It was nice to get a touchdown here. It was a corner route and the safety [Donovin Darius] slipped or he got over late. I was wide open and Shane threw a good ball."
Receiver Kevin Lockett, who signed with Jacksonville on Nov.1, a day after being cut by Washington where he had spent the previous year and a half, didn't catch a ball.
"Only in Washington," Lockett said when asked how a player can go from starting to being cut three weeks later. "But I fumbled the ball too often."

Gotta field it
Cornerback Champ Bailey, thrust into punt return duties after an injury to wide receiver Jacquez Green, didn't field two punts that Jacksonville downed inside the 10. The exchange of field position in each case eventually led to a Jaguars field goal.
The first instance came late in the second quarter. Bailey let a punt go that was headed toward the 5, but instead of bouncing into the end zone it came back a little and was downed at the 7.
The second punt occurred after the first series of the second half. Bailey's decision not to field the ball led to an extra 20 yards in Jacksonville's favor, and the ball eventually was downed at the 6. The total distance of the punt (64 yards) tied the career-long punt of the Jaguars' Chris Hanson.
"The [first] one I can't catch it. It's inside the 10," Bailey said. "And the other [one] it just kind of shifted funny. I should have caught it, period."
He admitted he wasn't totally at ease fielding punts, which he last did regularly at Georgia. This season Bailey had been used only in situations where Washington feared a fake.
He called himself "a little" comfortable, adding, "It's a change of pace, but that's what I'm here for. I get paid for that."

J. Green injured
Wide receiver Jacquez Green, the primary punt returner, suffered a cut leg on a deep pass play in the first quarter and had to receive stitches. He had his leg wrapped after the game but thought it would be a short-term injury.
"My cleat or his cleat hit it," Green said, pointing to the tendon on the underside of his inner thigh. "It hurt like [heck]. I think it'll be a short period [of time Im out]. Probably when I'm able to tolerate the pain, I'll be all right."
There did not appear to be any other significant injuries, though cornerback Fred Smoot appeared to play through a severe illness.
Running back Stephen Davis said his sprained knee continues to make "good progress," adding he "hopefully" will play next week at the New York Giants.

Some 3-4
Redskins defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis is experimenting with a 3-4 base defensive package in certain situations. Players said they began practicing and implementing the wrinkle three or four weeks ago.
"I love it. I wished it got called more," said linebacker Kevin Mitchell, who lost his starting job in the 4-3 set but gets on the field in the 3-4. "You have to do it for certain situations, and the situations just haven't come up to use it the way Marvin wants to use it."

Davis sits out again
As expected, halfback Stephen Davis (knee) was inactive along with guards Brenden Stai (knee) and Kipp Vickers, tight end Leonard Stephens, defensive tackle Carl Powell and defensive end Otis Leverette. Defensive end Greg Scott, an undrafted rookie from Hampton Institute, made his debut after being inactive for the first eight games.
David Elfin, Jody Foldesy

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