- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 3, 2002

The Washington Redskins are starting to swagger.
It doesn't matter that they're only 3-4 as they start a three-game road trip with a visit to Seattle today to face the Seahawks. And it doesn't matter that they have yet to win two straight this season and probably will not have injured running back Stephen Davis against the Seahawks.
Suddenly, the Redskins are no longer afraid. They outlasted a second straight bad start under a new coach and regained their confidence with the victory over Indianapolis. Last week the locker room bustled during lunchtime with animated dominos contests, and players planned a Halloween party. They have started bonding away from the field, as well as on it. And now they want instant redemption.
"We're just going to try to dominate the Seattle Seahawks," linebacker LaVar Arrington said. "That has to be our mindset from here on out. I'm not afraid to say that. Nobody in [the locker room] is afraid to say it. We're out here trying to dominate the rest of the way. If we don't approach it with that attitude, then they're going to dominate us. We're just the bad guys. We're like a bunch of renegades. That's the whole defense. That's the mentality these guys have taken on."
There was plenty of tough talk from a team that at times this year has struggled on offense, defense and special teams. However, last Sunday's 26-21 licking of the Colts gave Washington renewed hope. After all, the Redskins remain a potential wild card team following the hardest stretch of their schedule. Washington needs to beat Seattle to reach midseason 4-4 and give itself a chance for a postseason run.
"We looked at the next four games as very crucial to our year starting with the Colts so we have one down," quarterback Shane Matthews said.
Said cornerback Champ Bailey: "The more you win, the more you feel like you can win every game. I don't think we have a lot of guys in this locker room that lack confidence anyway."
Inconsistency remains the biggest concern. The Redskins have played well at times but never regularly. Even Washington's narrow victories over Arizona and Indianapolis were uneven, with only the 31-14 win over Tennessee a complete effort. The Redskins jumped to a 20-0 lead over the Colts but had to stop a late Indianapolis two-point conversion to seal the victory. Conversely, all four losses were by at least 10 points.
"Our identity was the three victories and hopefully not the four losses," coach Steve Spurrier said. "We played pretty decently in the three wins. If we play like that, we can compete against anyone, and [if we play like] the four losses, we probably don't have much of a chance against anyone."
The Seahawks (2-5) come off a 17-14 victory over the Dallas Cowboys, but lost quarterback Trent Dilfer and leading receiver Darrell Jackson to injuries. Seattle's defense is the worst in the NFL against the run. The Redskins will probably start backup running back Kenny Watson, but they've finally regained some offensive rhythm following the return of Matthews along with the infusion of newly signed guard Tre Johnson.
Another plus for the offense is the recent signing of receiver Willie Jackson, who gives Matthews a second big target.
Washington has run more than it has passed in two straight games, but Matthews has helped solve the turnover and sack problems by getting rid of the ball quickly. He completed only 17 of 35 against Indianapolis but threw two touchdowns and had no turnovers and just one sack. The overall run/pass balance is making the Fun'n'Gun more effective than in past weeks.
"If we keep them off balance with a pass here and there, we'll be all right," Matthews said. "Every team has success mixing it up. You can't just do one thing."
The Redskins departed a day earlier, on Friday, to better acclimate themselves to the three-hour time difference. They did the same thing before playing in San Francisco on Sept.22. Washington will travel more than 25,000 miles this season, the NFL's most if you include the preseason trip to Japan.
"I've been on teams where we didn't do that, and it's hard to adjust to the time difference," Matthews said of the early departure. "When we went to San Francisco, I felt pretty good for the game and it definitely helped us."

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide