- The Washington Times - Monday, November 3, 2003

IRVING, Texas.

Maybe the Redskins need to bring in some consultants to evaluate their consultants. The combined genius of Joe Bugel and Foge Fazio certainly didn’t contribute much to the cause yesterday. In some respects, the Redskins looked worse in their 21-14 loss to the Cowboys than they ever have under Steve Spurrier.

Instead of watching game tapes today, the entire team — coaches included — should be required to write an essay titled: “How I Spent My Bye Week.” Because it’s obvious they did little during their 14 days of self-examination to stop the bleeding. Everything that was killing them in the first seven games — leaky pass protection, a nonexistent pass rush, self-destructive penalties — continued to haunt them at Texas Stadium. And the road (Seahawks, Panthers, Dolphins) doesn’t get any easier from here. A 3-5 record could become a 3-8 record in a hurry.

In which case: Man the lifeboats.

A year and a half into the Spurrier Era, the Fun ‘n’ Gun is a hopeless case; it’s fallen, and it can’t get up. It wasn’t until the third quarter yesterday that Patrick Ramsey “got out of minus,” as “Jeopardy!” host Art Fleming used to say, in the passing department. And it wasn’t until the fourth quarter that the Redskins converted a third down. For this, Dan Snyder is paying $5million a year?

Seriously, the offensive display — or lack thereof — brought back grim memories of 1993 and Rod Dowhower. Remember that horror show, when a first down was practically a cause for a ticker-tape parade? Well, Spurrier’s offense has almost sunk to those depths. His young quarterback, battered and bruised, seems to have lost his confidence, his offensive linemen don’t know which way to turn, and the Team That Didn’t Need Stephen Davis had to rely on Chad Morton and Rock Cartwright yesterday to churn out the yards.

Ramsey exited the game not once but twice with injuries — making it four times in the last three games he’s had to come out. Thus, Tim Hasselbeck, a Redskin for about 15 minutes, was hurled into the breach for a few plays (and, miraculously, fired a couple of completions). Wonder if Danny Wuerffel was enjoying himself back home in New Orleans.

Perhaps the most disconcerting thing about the day’s events is that the Cowboys’ offense was almost as inept as the Redskins’. Quincy Carter threw a pair of interceptions, Troy Hambrick fumbled twice and Dallas essentially handed the Redskins their first touchdown (when Ifeanyi Ohalete picked off a pass and ran it back to the Cowboys’ 6). And how did the Redskins respond to this opportunity? They got the extra point blocked.

If ever the Redskins were going to win in Dallas, something they haven’t done in eight years, this was probably the game. In addition to the four turnovers, the Cowboys had two TDs called back because of penalties — not to mention a bunch of dropped passes and missed receivers. And yet, they still outgained the Redskins almost 2 to 1 (400-211).

That stat alone should give Snyder the night sweats. After all, the Redskins came into the season thinking — hoping — they were better than Dallas; the teams they had in their sights were the Eagles and Giants. But in the space of five weeks, they’ve gone from being the 3-1, up-and-coming Redskins to the dregs-of-the-NFC East Redskins. Unless they can come up with some answers in a hurry, answers that have eluded them so far, they will have gone backward in a year in which they were supposed to go forward. (Not that we haven’t seen that before.)

Jon Jansen has been through some trying times as a Redskin, but the current crisis has him “the most frustrated I’ve ever been in my football career.” The team, he said, came out of the bye week feeling like it had gotten some problems squared away, and “we expected to win this game. I’m tremendously surprised [at the direction the season has taken].”

Aren’t we all? There’s no question this ballclub has more talent than it did last season, particularly in the offensive line, but the coaching staff hasn’t been able to pull it together — not like Bill Parcells and his assistants have in just a few months in Dallas. Even with all the attention paid in the past two weeks to protecting the quarterback, the Redskins couldn’t hold off the Cowboys’ rush. “It seems like they’re bringing more [players] than we have [to block] at times,” Chris Samuels said.

Opponents, you can be sure, will continue to bring the house. Ramsey is reeling, the offense appears lost, and the Ball Coach, the mad scientist behind it all, is looking more mad than scientist these days.

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