- The Washington Times - Monday, November 4, 2002

Seattle was the perfect venue for this snoozer: You needed a steaming cup of joe just to keep awake in the second half.
OK, picky, picky. It's no longer enough that the Washington Redskins win; now, they have to be exciting, too. With all this new-found passion for the running game, the Redskins are on the brink of boring. Matter of fact, Washington's 14-3 victory over Seattle yesterday turned the Fun 'n' Gun into the Snore 'n' Bore.
The Redskins won two straight games for the first time this season. How'd they do it? They found two teams worse than themselves. This type of so-so effort produced four losses earlier this season against teams that are expected to make the playoffs, so don't think the Redskins suddenly have found the path to the postseason. They're just flirting with the NFL's penchant for rewarding mediocrity.


Q: Wait a minute. The Redskins win two straight and you kick them to the curb? What about giving up only three points or playing well on special teams? Did you see Kenny Watson rush for 110 yards?
A: It was a decent effort, but the Redskins scored only 14 points and were shut out in the second half by a bad defense. And, the Redskins shut down an offense that lost its two playmakers the previous week. Let's not start a parade down Constitution Avenue just yet.
Q: At least be fair and concede that the Redskins are starting to make a move. They're 4-4. Can't they still make the playoffs?
A: Certainly, the Redskins will be in the playoff chase. The NFC is filled with pretenders this year. Start rooting for New Orleans to win the NFC South. The Saints own a tie-breaker over the Redskins thanks to their victory over Washington earlier this season. That would let them beat out the Redskins for the last wild card slot. That probably leaves Tampa Bay and Atlanta vying with Washington for the two playoff slots, with the Rams a darkhorse contender. Washington has to beat St. Louis in the Nov.24 meeting to avoid having the Rams edge them out.
Q: You're saying Washington can make the playoffs only if it gets ahead of Atlanta and Tampa Bay? What about the NFC East title?
A: Please, the Redskins have as much chance of catching the Eagles as does another round of tax rebates coming to your door as Christmas bonuses. Philadelphia might be the best team in the NFC. There's no way Washington will catch Philadelphia, barring major injuries to the Eagles.
Q: The Redskins didn't seem to miss injured running back Stephen Davis. What are his chances of playing at Jacksonville on Sunday?
A: Washington actually missed Davis quite a bit. He might have scored another touchdown and kept the game from being closer than it should have been. Certainly, Kenny Watson did a fantastic job with 110 yards, and Ladell Betts is still one to watch. However, Davis is still the main man in this offense. He'll probably play against the Jags.
Q: Quarterback Shane Matthews was only 10 of 27. Does this mean another trip to the bench soon?
A: Coach Steve Spurrier has learned shuffling quarterbacks doesn't work well in the NFL. He'll give Matthews more leeway this time. Matthews is 2-0 since returning, and that's the only stat that matters. Sure, he could make more of those throws, but don't worry about the completion percentage.
Q: What is receiver Darnerien McCants doing after scoring a touchdown? It looks like some hula dance.
A: He's making a "D," as in Delaware State. It's part of a cheer when his college team scored. McCants will do the entire "D-S-U" routine if he scores late in a blowout.
Q: What's the deal with flooding zones so much that players are crashing into each other? That seems to draw too many defenders to one area.
A: Spurrier got into the playbook with four- and five-receiver sets to produce crowds. He can get away with these plays with Matthews' quick release. Still, receivers Rod Gardner and Derrius Thompson literally knocked each other down on a third-and-5. That's ridiculous.
Q: Why did the Redskins act like defensive end Bruce Smith's first-half sack was the game-winner? They nearly carried him off the field.
A: Because it saved a touchdown and gave the Redskins a huge edge entering halftime. Smith did it again in the third quarter with another sack and forced a fumble to prevent a score. Smith still is nine sacks short of Reggie White's NFL record of 198 and probably won't catch him. However, Smith delivered another fair effort at age 39.
Q: Why do the Redskins drop cornerback Champ Bailey back on punt returns occasionally?
A: He's more of a defensive player instead of a returner. Washington only uses him when it thinks the opponent may attempt a fake punt. Notice they even pulled him after a timeout in the fourth quarter, figuring Seattle was really punting. However, Bailey can return punts. He may be the best the Redskins have if he's given the chance.
Q: Now it's on to Jacksonville. How will "Ball Coach" handle the homecoming hoopla given that his old Gators aren't far away?
A: Spurrier has been surprisingly low key this season, but a 2-4 start will keep one quiet. Now that the Redskins have found a groove with two straight wins, maybe Spurrier will loosen up around his old buddies. NFL sources say Jags coach Tom Coughlin has vowed not to lose this game. He better not offer a money-back guarantee.

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