- The Washington Times - Monday, September 20, 2004

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — They threw four interceptions, fumbled five times, lost three of them, committed seven penalties, gave up four sacks and … well, you get the picture.

To say the Washington Redskins were kind of sloppy yesterday during a 20-14 loss to the New York Giants is like saying it’s kind of hard to find a cab driver willing to pick you up outside the Meadowlands at 8:30p.m.

In a word, this was ugly. In two words, it was real ugly.

Seven turnovers? By a Joe Gibbs-coached team? That’s got to be a misprint.

“I’ve been in some games where we turned the ball over a lot,” tackle Chris Samuels said. “But I don’t ever remember seven times.”

Thing is, as bad as the Redskins played yesterday, there they were with six minutes to go, driving into Giants territory with a chance to take the lead.

Er, that was until Patrick Ramsey heaved a wounded duck in the general vicinity of Rod Gardner and could only watch helplessly as New York safety Brent Alexander hauled it in at the 10-yard line.

“Just stupid,” Ramsey said of his ill-advised pass and third interception in less than two quarters of action. “My team expects me to perform better, and I expect myself to perform better in that situation.”

That the Redskins somehow found themselves in position to sneak out of New Jersey with a victory leads to a couple of possible conclusions:

Either Gregg Williams’ defense really is as good as advertised and is capable of keeping this team in any game against any opponent. Or …

The Giants are not a very good team.

The latter of the two, sad to say, is more likely the case. Tiki Barber and Ron Dayne averaged 2 yards a carry yesterday. Kurt Warner’s best days are clearly behind him. And Tom Coughlin is too busy fining his players for not showing up early enough to meetings to actually devise a cohesive game plan.

Not that the Redskins took advantage of any of that. Washington had countless opportunities to take control of yesterday’s game, yet inexplicably kept finding new ways to shoot itself in the foot.

There were false starts, illegal motions and delay-of-game penalties. There were dropped passes, blown coverages and poor decisions.

If you didn’t know any better, you might have thought Steve Spurrier was still roaming the sideline in his trademark visor, not the Hall of Fame coach with three Super Bowl trophies to his name.

Actually, one second-quarter play in particular seemed like it was pulled straight out of the Ball Coach’s old playbook. Mark Brunell handed off to Clinton Portis, who was immediately swarmed by Giants defenders but still managed to pitch the ball to Laveranues Coles on a reverse.

Coles was dropped for a 16-yard loss, and if you listened real closely, you might have been able to hear Spurrier from his living room sofa shouting, “Shoot, I could’ve called that play!”

Gibbs’ offense may not have as many issues as the Fun ‘n’ Gun did. But make no mistake, it has issues.

Portis, for all his explosiveness, is averaging slightly more than 3 yards per carry when you throw out last week’s 64-yard touchdown. The offensive line, despite some valiant efforts from those filling in for injured right tackle Jon Jansen, is not playing up to the high standard it has set for itself.

And above all else, the quarterback situation is very shaky. Brunell may be the veteran signal-caller Gibbs craves, but so far his performance on the field hasn’t matched his leadership off it.

And when Brunell went down in the third quarter yesterday with a strained hamstring, Ramsey picked up right where he left off in the preseason. Last year’s starter looked uncomfortable in the pocket, misfired on a number of passes and made some incredibly bad decisions.

Gibbs may have no choice but to call upon Ramsey again if Brunell’s hamstring does not heal in time for next Monday night’s showdown with the Cowboys. The coach may have spent the last six months touting the need for two good quarterbacks, but right now neither of his chosen passers is playing the part.

“Offensively, we need to take a long, hard look at ourselves,” Gibbs said.

All those fans who jumped on the bandwagon after last week’s win might want to take a long, hard look at the Redskins themselves.

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