- The Washington Times - Monday, November 22, 2004

PHILADELPHIA It was a day best summed up with the title of a Mel Brooks movie. Not “Blazing Saddles,” though one has to wonder whether coach Joe Gibbs at some point might find the hot seat. No, after another big win by the Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins fans know “Life Stinks.”

Not that the Redskins didn’t show any fight. Heck, they were Ron Artest with a ‘fro full of suds in a 7-6 first half. But the planets realigned after intermission. Washington dipped into its grab bag of mistakes, and Philadelphia barreled into the Redskins’ face masks like so many Sean Taylor loogies.

The Monday Morning Quarterback doesn’t know much about plate tectonics, but the distance between Philadelphia and Washington is definitely growing. Growing more desperate than those well-known housewives, the Quarterback removes the towel and bares all the Redskins’ flaws.

Q: Boy, are we gonna hear it today. How many years do we have to wait until the Redskins are competitive with the Eagles again?

A: Washington’s attitude was there — at least for a little while. But these guys gotta score some points. Despite a modestly more coherent passing game with Patrick Ramsey at the helm, the Redskins managed precisely zero trips into the end zone. Putting up six points to Miami’s 17 meant Washington slipped into 32nd in the league in scoring.

Q: We couldn’t stand to watch much of the fourth quarter. Twenty-two points sounds like a rout. Was it?

A: The Redskins played well enough in the first half, but losing by three touchdowns is galling — and that’s probably why the team was so frustrated in the locker room after the game. Playing 47 competitive minutes (the game effectively ended with Ola Kimrin’s wide-right attempt two minutes into the fourth) is enough for a team to fool itself against the Ravens or Bengals — but not against the Eagles.

Q: Or the Steelers. How ugly does next weekend get?

A: Depends on your definition of ugly. If you aren’t turned off by the rowdy, Kielbasa-snarfing trolls in the upper deck of Lincoln Financial Field, you might consider the Redskins’ performance next weekend quite attractive.

Q: Seriously, where does the season go from here?

A: Unfortunately, it didn’t take a swami to see this coming. Hitting 3-6 before this four-game stretch (at Philly, at Pittsburgh, vs. the Giants, vs. Philly) gave Washington virtually no chance to turn around its season. The trick now will be for Gibbs to keep major disaster at bay in the home stretch of this season and regroup for 2005.

Q: The Redskins are plagued with injuries. Mark Brunell struggled in nine games at quarterback. Who gets the blame and how much?

A: Don’t look any further than Gibbs, who picked Brunell (a bad choice) and kept playing him past the point of no return (a really bad choice). Ramsey came in trailing 17-0 with the club already 3-5. Only a miracle (either that day against the Bengals or in the form of a win yesterday at the Linc) would have saved Washington’s season. An opportunity to regroup at the bye week came and went.

Q: Does Ramsey need glasses? With yesterday’s spate of screen passes, we’re wondering how far he can see down the field.

A: Gibbs scaled back the aggressiveness of Washington’s plays to attack the Eagles’ weaknesses and make Ramsey more comfortable. It was, generally speaking, not a bad plan. Just two problems: No.1, Washington has a propensity to make mistakes (penalties, drops, etc.). No.2, the Eagles are downright explosive on offense these days. It might not have been the best day for Gibbs to give his team such a small margin for error.

Q: We thought the Eagles were supposed to be vulnerable against the run. Why couldn’t Clinton Portis get anything going?

A: Philadelphia’s run defense has improved in Jeremiah Trotter’s two games as the starting middle linebacker, but the real key is having a coordinator who can minimize Trotter’s desire to bail out on his assignments. Jim Johnson’s defense did a great job of holding the line, clogging holes and making sure Portis didn’t go all the way when he broke through. And once again, when a team plays hard for only about 47 minutes, it’s tough to get worn down.

Q: Gregg Williams’ defense has given up more than 300 yards in four straight games. Was the rise to No.1 a mirage?

A: This is what happens to bad teams at the end of a bad season — especially when the injuries start to pile up. That Williams could keep Washington competitive while leaning on no-names such as Demetric Evans, Lemar Marshall and Ryan Clark (no offense to any of those overachievers) is a statement about just how well this unit has played. There’s no shame in giving up 334 yards to the Eagles’ top-10 unit.

Q: Philadelphia seemed to be passing an awful lot in the late going. Were they rubbing it in?

A: Looked like it. And some Redskins were steaming in the locker room. The game in three weeks could get ugly. But the truth is that the Eagles, now 9-1, are rapidly reaching the point where their regular season can’t be spoiled anymore.

Q: At least Sean Taylor gave T.O. a forearm shiver to the face. Does the kid have spunk, or is he just a punk?

A: It’s rapidly becoming clear that Taylor will be a player the rest of the league hates. He’s already got enough bad headlines to last a 15-year career, let alone a rookie season. Last week he (and we’ll generously throw in an “allegedly” here) spit in a Bengal’s face, and yesterday he was busting at the seams to take an Eagle’s head off. In three years, he could be one of the most feared defenders in the game.

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