- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 15, 2002

Redskins Notes

Special teams changes are possible tomorrow as Washington Redskins coach Steve Spurrier remained upset yesterday over allowing two touchdown returns in the 43-27 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.
Despite saying he "was probably a little too critical, too harsh about the way we played and [being] undisciplined" during postgame interviews, Spurrier repeated charges of players needing to work harder when readying for the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.
"We have to have better effort and intensity from guys that cover kicks. That can win or lose a ballgame and was a very big part of us losing," he said. "We can't make a whole lot of changes. Special teams wise, [special teams] coach [Mike] Stock's probably going to try to find one or two more guys to fill in in spots. Overall, we need to be a lot sharper. We need to hustle more in certain areas, especially on special teams."
The Redskins have sorely missed Michael Bates (salary cap cut) and Kato Serwanga (season-ending knee injury) on coverage units following standout play by both last season. Washington is ranked 30th in kickoff coverage after being first last season, and last in punt coverage. The Saints scored on Michael Lewis' 90-yard kickoff return and 83-yard punt return.
"To give up that punt return was a big stab in the chest," Stock said. "When the ball hits the ground some guys may think they're not going to return it or let it roll, but we had too many people in one cluster. Lewis hesitated before picking it up with the thought we've got him pinned down. It doesn't work that way. That's why you have to have control. You can't make a mistake and let the guy get outside."
Stock and Spurrier were unsure over changes when the team resumes workouts tomorrow, but players disputed breakdowns were caused by lack of effort.
"We've got a lot of regrouping to do, but everything that happened is correctable," said special teams captain Eddie Mason. "Just get back to the basics, getting off blocks and making plays. We're just going through some growing pains."
Said receiver Kevin Lockett: "We just had guys get out of their lanes and left a couple gaps, and as fast as [Lewis] is all he needed was a couple of inches. It just got away from us and snowballed."

Defensive blues
Spurrier also hinted at a possible move at safety, saying there were several poor plays leading to long competitions or touchdowns.
"Our safeties didn't show a whole lot," Spurrier said. "We need those two players to show up a little more where the ball is."
Defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis declined comment on whether safeties Sam Shade or David Terrell may be benched. However, Ifeanyi Ohalete has gained increased time over Shade in recent weeks and scored on a 78-yard interception against the Saints.
Spurrier also quipped the Redskins were worse defending third-and-long situations after permitting three conversions of 10 yards or more.
"When it was third-and-4 or 5 I felt pretty good, but when it was third-and-15 or more we need a third-and-15 defense," Spurrier said.

Extra points
Spurrier was upset over several controversial penalties among the 11 called against Washington.
"We're getting a lot of little calls that nobody sees anything that happens," he said. "You see a flag at the beginning of the play that has nothing to do with the play and yet we're getting them. They end up being big plays in the game. The first possession that called taunting on Ifeanyi [Ohalete], he may have said something. I'm sure he shouldn't have said it, but it was a call that maybe could or not been called. Champ [Bailey] gets a hold on a punt that goes into the end zone. The guy slipped and fell. Bruce [Smith] got a hand in the facemask. Here comes a flag that had nothing to do with the play. Those are phantom calls everybody in the stadium says 'What was it?' Hopefully, we're not going to get all those, but that's not what caused us to lose the game."
Running back Ladell Betts appears to have finally found a role kick returner. Inactive three games, Betts averaged 22.9 yards against New Orleans to probably keep the job over Kenny Watson.
Don't look for the Redskins to make any moves by today's 4p.m. trade deadline.
"It's difficult right now to just find a player and plug him in," Spurrier said. "We've got what we've got here."
There's a chance of snow in Green Bay with expected gametime temperatures in the 30s. That would be a first for Spurrier as a coach.
"Maybe that's what we need snow and rain," he said. "We've had five games as nice to play as you'll ever find."
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