- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 17, 2002

The Washington Redskins' 4-1 preseason was nice. Beating Arizona in last week's opener was fine. But last night was different. Al Michaels, John Madden and a national television audience were on hand in Landover along with Gang Green, otherwise known as the defending NFC East champion Philadelphia Eagles.

And there went what had been Easy Street for first-year Redskins coach Steve Spurrier. The Eagles kept Spurrier's Fun 'n' Gun in check, and new coordinator Marvin Lewis' defense had no answers for Philadelphia's do-it-all quarterback, Donovan McNabb, in what had to be one of the worst whippings the ol' Ballcoach has ever taken.

And now after a short week comes a long trip to San Francisco and a battle with the formidable 49ers. Welcome to the NFL, Steve.

Q: The Redskins looked like world-beaters until now, but they couldn't have beaten the Detroit Lions last night. Guess I should cancel my Super Bowl reservations, huh?

A: Don't know why you made 'em anyway. Look, the Redskins aren't as good as they looked this summer or against the Cardinals, but they aren't as bad as they were last night either. The Eagles are a veteran, well-coached team with one of the NFL's better quarterbacks. Don't forget that the starters from Pittsburgh and New England made Washington's regulars look pretty awful in preseason, too.

Q: With all those underneath throws, there wasn't much Funnin' 'n' Gunnin' by the Ballcoach last night. Why?

A: The Eagles have one of the NFL's top secondaries with cornerbacks Troy Vincent and Bobby Taylor and safeties Brian Dawkins and Blaine Bishop. And until he was hurt, Redskins quarterback Shane Matthews looked like the career backup he had been for eight years instead of the star he was last week.

Q: Down 14-0 early in the second quarter and Spurrier goes for it on fourth-and-inches at his own 38. Is he crazy?

A: Crazy like a fox. Stephen Davis ran for 10 yards on the big gamble.

Q: Where has Jacquez Green been all my life?

A: Green, another one of Spurrier's ex-Gators, isn't getting any time at receiver, but his 90-yard punt return touchdown last night was a marvelous individual effort without any real great blocks. The punt return score was Green's first since his debut with Tampa Bay on Sept.13, 1998 and the longest in Redskins history other than Hall-of-Famer Bullet Bill Dudley's 96-yard scamper against Pittsburgh on Dec.3,1950.

Q: Is Daryl Gardener that important to the Washington defense? There was no pass rush.

A: The massive defensive tackle can be a real factor when healthy, but the Redskins knew he was a big risk after missing 14 games with back woes the past two seasons in Miami. Gardener played in just one preseason game before missing the next three. He held up for the opener but was unable to practice all last week or play last night. With Gardener out, journeyman Carl Powell made his first start in his fourth season and it looked like it.

Q: Is Bruce Smith still wearing No.78 in burgundy and gold?

A: Yes, Smith No.2 all-time with 186 sacks recently redid his contract to ensure he'll be back in 2003 to try to break Reggie White's record at age 40. But with only 1½ sacks in his last 10 games, it'll take Bruce five more years.

Q: Twice in the first half alone, the officials didn't make a call until they had a conference. What's up with that?

A: These zebras are supposed to be the best in the world, but two non-calls in 25 minutes is embarrassing.

Q: It sure looked like Champ Bailey was down before the ball came out on his end-around. What happened?

A: It was one of those nights where nothing much went right for the Redskins. Even the cheerleaders couldn't keep track of the downs. To add insult to injustice on the bad call, ex-Redskin Shawn Barber was one of the Eagles in on the tackle of Bailey.

Q: Speaking of players switching sides, was Jeremiah Trotter on the field last night?

A: The usually emotional Trotter was awfully quiet in his first matchup against the Eagles and coach Andy Reid, his former boss who dissed him in April, removing the franchise tag and essentially kicking him out the door.

Q: What was the deal with Spurrier making those rapid-fire fish faces?

A: Maybe he felt like was trapped in the fishbowl otherwise known as coaching the Redskins.

Q: How come the Redskins are so bad at home on Monday night?

A: Washington is now 1-3 on Mondays in the House That Jack Built, 24-10-1 on Sundays (including playoffs). Go figure.

Q: Will the Redskins get revenge in the rematch in Philly?

A: The Redskins and Eagles split their series the past six years, but winning the final game at the Vet on Dec.15 will be a huge challenge.

Q: How's my usual Monday Morning Quarterback, Rick Snider, doing?

A: Rick's recuperating nicely at home from his mild heart attack Sept.4, but I'm sure he's glad he didn't have to try to be funny about that debacle last night.

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