- The Washington Times - Monday, November 18, 2002

The Washington Redskins now can't even beat another crummy team.
The New York Giants essentially gave away 17 points on turnovers and penalties yesterday, and the Redskins still couldn't steal a win. The Redskins were given more chances than a lottery scratchoff salesman and came away looking inept once again. The 19-17 loss makes it official: The Fun 'n' Gun isn't any better than MartyBall.
So, forget the playoffs; the only local team that still will be playing football come January is the Maryland Terrapins. The Redskins may not even finish better than 6-10.
Who knew that Osaka would be the highlight of the season?

Q: Is it time to panic? Are they really out of the playoff hunt? Isn't there some way the Redskins still can make it?
A: Unless the Eagles, Giants and Falcons fold their franchises, the Redskins won't reach the postseason. The offense is in shambles, and the special teams stink. Even WJFK's Larry Michaels gave up on the Redskins during the postgame show, which is like George W. Bush turning into a liberal Democrat.

Q: The Redskins always seem to commit the fatal mistake at the end. This time, the Giants blocked a field goal that would have won the game for Washington. Why do the Redskins blow game after game, year after year?
A: Owner Dan Snyder needs to go to Atlanta and give former Redskins coach Joe Gibbs 10 percent of the team and a one-way plane ticket. Otherwise, the Redskins seem destined to be a mediocre franchise no matter who coaches, quarterbacks or owns them. It has been 10 seasons since Gibbs departed, and the Redskins have built nothing but a mess in his absence.

Q: Isn't that like asking Earl Weaver to come back and manage the Orioles? We all remember what a disaster that was. You're just ranting now.
A: OK, maybe Gibbs isn't the answer, but this franchise sure doesn't know what to do. One playoff appearance in a decade? That makes the Redskins just a little better than the Bengals. The Redskins need to invest heavily in a scouting system to find the gems. Spurrier's staff isn't the problem. They have the coaches. They just don't have the players.

Q: How could Spurrier call 35 passes and only 21 runs in such bad weather conditions? Is he wedded beyond reason to the pass?
A: Actually, the playcalling was sound. The rain wasn't the reason for the 20 incompletions. The Redskins stuck with the run until near the end, so don't blame Spurrier for this loss.

Q: Is it time to make changes on the field? Is quarterback Shane Matthews headed back to the bench?
A: If there is even the slimmest chance of making the playoffs now, a coach won't think about next season. They just think about the next game and won't make long-term moves. Fans can give up, but Spurrier won't scuttle the rest of this season for the next. He'll probably stay with Matthews against the Rams on Sunday and maybe the Cowboys on Thanksgiving. After that, he might make a move.

Q: What about moving Willie Jackson to start at receiver in place of Derrius Thompson? Jackson seems to be a playmaker.
A: That seems likely, very soon. Jackson caught five passes and a touchdown, and Thompson grabbed one ball. Spurrier loves to talk about Thompson's downfield blocking, but receivers are paid to catch the ball. Leave the blocking to tight ends.

Q: Was running back Stephen Davis hampered by his sprained knee? He gained only 59 yards on 19 carries.
A: Did you watch the game? The halftime show was fans boarding Noah's Ark. The field was a mess, and the blocking did little against the Giants' eight-man fronts. This loss wasn't caused by Davis getting bogged down.

Q: Then whose fault was it? When will there be some direct accountability?
A: Special teams did it again. The Redskins allowed a field goal to be blocked and permitted a long punt return that led to a late field goal for the Giants. Those plays were the difference. Kicker James Tuthill had not been asked to win a game until yesterday, and he just drilled that 42-yard attempt into the line. Granted the snap was a touch high, and the footing was so bad that Tuthill looked like Charlie Brown flying into the air on the follow through. But, that was a money kick; he at least needed to get it up into the air.

Q: Did Giants running back Tiki Barber fumble in the fourth quarter, a play the Redskins challenged?
A: Washington couldn't challenge the fumble because officials ruled that Barber already was out of bounds when he lost the ball, though that was debatable. Instead, officials checked the spot of the ball; the Redskins argued that Barber was short of a first down. After a nine-minute delay, Spurrier won his first challenge and the ball was moved 1 yards back to force a fourth down. Spurrier is now 1-3 in challenges.

Q: Why does Champ Bailey look lost on punt returns? Wasn't he touted as a potential Deion Sanders II?
A: Bailey clearly isn't comfortable back there, and for good reason: He has not returned punts regularly since 1999, when he was in college. The Redskins should get someone else for the season and let Bailey work on it during the offseason.

Q: At least the three-game road trip is done. Can the Redskins rebound against the Rams?
A: Only if you believe your 401K is coming back anytime soon. If you're the type who thinks Florida swamp land is waterfront property, go ahead and plan a victory party. Otherwise, what channel is the Terps game on?

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