- The Washington Times - Monday, October 21, 2002

Maybe coaches should get a "Believe in Stephen" T-shirt from the 1999 playoffs as part of their welcome package at Redskin Park. It always seems to take six games before the newcomers realize how important Stephen Davis is to the offense.
Last year, the Redskins ended an 0-5 winless streak at the start of the season only after they doubled Davis' carries. They merely finished the season on an 8-3 streak. Now coach Steve Spurrier finally seems to understand that Davis running sometimes is better than Patrick Ramsey passing. The Redskins managed to play respectably in their 30-9 loss to the Green Bay Packers yesterday behind Davis' 91 yards rushing. Or, at any rate, they played well enough to prevent a repeat of last year's humiliating 37-0 defeat.
The Redskins never seriously threatened the Packers. But if guard David Loverne had not been caught twice for holding on a third-quarter drive, things might have been different
especially with Packers quarterback Brett Favre injured.
It was a moral victory
big deal. The Redskins have enough of those over the past decade since coach Joe Gibbs retired to start a new religion.
Q: What happened to the playoff team that everyone expected to see after the Redskins went 4-1 in the preseason? The Redskins are now 2-4 and can't hold on to the ball.
A: It all comes down to the offensive line. Green Bay dominated in the pits and forced turnovers. The Redskins knew they were gambling when they declined to get better guards in the offseason, and it proved to be the biggest mistake since investing in Enron stock.
Q: But the schedule starts to ease up. Can the Redskins rebound and still grab a wild card slot?
A: They'll be lucky to stumble to 8-8. This is the same mediocre bunch that went 8-8 the past two years and got its coaches fired.
Q: Funny you said fired, because the Internet rumors say that Spurrier might be headed back to Florida in January. What are the chances of that happening?
A: About as much as Congress cutting our taxes again. Firing the coach has become a fall tradition in Washington sort of like craft fairs and leaf raking but it won't happen a third straight year. Don't even start yammering about it.
Q: Were the Packers making a point when they kicked a field goal with 22 seconds left instead of taking a knee?
A: What a no-class move. The Packers led 27-9, so there was no need for the field goal attempt. Don't talk about the season-ending point differential as a tie-breaker to decide a playoff spot. The NFL coaching fraternity is a small world, so maybe Packers coach Mike Sherman was delivering a small payback for some of his brethren. Then again, Saints coach Jim Haslett and 49ers coach Steve Mariucci already did it for themselves this season.
Q: What happened on the triple penalty that essentially gave the Packers a 14-6 lead? They called two penalties on cornerback Champ Bailey, and he wasn't even near the play.
A: The official blew the jersey number. It was cornerback Fred Smoot on the play, and even then they were questionable calls because the ball probably was uncatchable. Smoot was called for a face mask and interference, and cornerback Darrell Green was flagged for holding. Three flags on one play? Strange. Very strange.
Q: How did the Redskins lose two challenges in less than one minute? Who decides to do it?
A: Spurrier listens to assistants upstairs who have a better view, but somebody up there needs glasses. The first challenge Smoot's dropped interception wasn't even close. The second, on Ramsey's fumble on a pass attempt, was arguable but not really close. A failed challenge costs a timeout, so the Redskins need to make smarter moves.
Q: What about calling three timeouts on one drive? It left the Redskins without any for the final 8:52 of the first half.
A: Ramsey was bothered by crowd noise, which the rookie needs to learn to handle. The Redskins didn't do anything measurable after any of the timeouts. It could have been costly if the Redskins had needed a timeout before halftime.
Q: Why did the Redskins throw deep on third and inches at the Packers 45 with 3:31 left in the first half? Tradition says run the ball.
A: Spurrier tried to catch the Packers napping, but with a running back like Davis they should have gone for the first down. There was plenty of time left. Instead, the Redskins got snuffed on a fourth-down sneak and gave the Packers 3:26 to go 55 yards. Naturally, the Packers kicked a field goal and took a 17-6 halftime lead.
Q: What was the love affair with receiver Derrius Thompson and end runs? Once or twice, maybe, but four?
A: Spurrier thinks Thompson can be a star and wants to use him more often. However, the running game should stay with Davis. Thompson wasn't bad overall, though: He gained 48 yards on four carries and made five catches for 89 yards.
Q: So much for receiver Chris Doering starting over Rod Gardner. Did Doering even catch a pass? Gardner seemed to be the primary target, so why was he even benched?
A: Spurrier was telling Gardner to work harder on his routes, and benching him even in a small way was the message. Too bad Ramsey didn't get two passes to a wide-open Gardner in the end zone. Oh, Doering caught a ball late in the game for 2 yards.
Q: Bailey was back to return a punt? Isn't he banned from touching the ball since he fumbled in the season opener?
A: Bailey is saved for potential game-breaking situations. The Redskins are hoping he can be like Deion Sanders and steal a touchdown on occasion. The punt dropped at the 10, but it was worth a chance.
Q: Can the Redskins rebound against the Colts on Sunday? Is there still some pride left?
A: It's a winnable game, considering that the Colts play tonight, have a short week to prepare and must come to FedEx Field. However, spot the Colts a handful of turnovers, as the Redskins have done for their opponents in the past two games, and it will be another runaway loss.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide