- The Washington Times - Monday, October 24, 2005

Clinton Portis was onto something with the “Back To The Future” glasses he sported at his weekly media session Thursday at Redskin Park: It was like the 1980s for the Redskins yesterday at the Big Ugly in Landover.

The sun shone on a gorgeous fall day, Joe Gibbs paced the sideline, and the Redskins toyed with their opponent. Dan Snyder brought back some alumni cheerleaders, tastefully clad in sweatshirts and sweatpants. And for good measure, Super Bowl XXII MVP Doug Williams was in the house, albeit in the press box scouting for Tampa Bay.

The Redskins didn’t prove anything by walloping the feeble 49ers, but they did end their two-game losing streak, remained unbeaten at home and regained momentum heading into two huge games against the New York Giants and Philadelphia in a revived NFC East.

Q: How bad are the 49ers?

A: The Monday Morning Quarterback has covered the Redskins on and off for 17 seasons, and the 49ers are the worst team he’s seen. When Mike Sellers is running free for 19-yard touchdown catches against your team, you’ve got serious issues.

Q: How good are the Redskins?

A: It’s still hard to tell. The next three weeks (at Giants, Eagles at home, at Bucs) will tell us a lot more, but this is definitely a better team than the Monday Morning Quarterback expected. Mark Brunell looks like Joe Theismann, and Santana Moss not only has Ricky Sanders’ speed but also Gary Clark’s hands and guts.

Q: Washington is 4-2, coming off a 6-10 record last season and 5-11 the year before that. This is the best Redskins team in years.

A: You might be right about that. But the standards aren’t very high when you’ve made the playoffs only once since 1992 and had just one winning season since 1997. And the NFC is full of teams with similar records.

Q: What did LaVar do to finally get out of the doghouse?

A: Gregg Williams probably figured that Arrington, who he sees as undisciplined, couldn’t hurt the defense much against such an impotent offense.

Arrington played mostly on second downs until the second half, and he led the Redskins in tackles. He certainly is more of a playmaker than starting weak-side linebacker Warrick Holdman and designated pass rusher Chris Clemons.

Why Williams would rather play singles hitter Holdman than take Arrington’s strikeouts as well as his home runs is beyond me, but coaches don’t listen to writers.

Q: Marcus Washington forced a fumble, and Sean Taylor picked off a pass. Where have those turnovers been?

A: The Redskins have a very good defense, but the only turnovers they’ve forced this season came against rookie quarterbacks making their first (Chicago’s Kyle Orton) or second (San Francisco’s Alex Smith) starts.

They’re not going to face another one of those this season, so Williams better figure how to do the same thing against offenses with veteran leaders.

Q: Portis hadn’t reached the end zone in seven straight games. Yesterday, he scored three times. Where have all those touchdowns been?

A: Portis isn’t a power back who racks up the TDs from inside the 10-yard line. Most of his damage in Denver was done on finesse-like cutback runs that aren’t a big part of Joe Gibbs’ offense. But Muggsy Bogues could be a power back against a San Francisco defense with more holes than Dunkin’ Donuts.

Q: Did Mark Brunell, like Joe Hardy in “Damn Yankees,” cut a deal with the devil? How did a guy who looked washed-up last October turn into a Pro Bowl passer at 35?

A: Brunell hurt his hamstring in Week 2 last season but kept playing, and it showed. Obviously, Brunell without mobility is like pizza without cheese. It just doesn’t work.

Q: I’ve got to ask it again: Why the heck did the Jets trade Santana Moss for Laveranues “the Toe” Coles? Santana’s a star.

A: The Jets knew that Coles had solid chemistry with quarterback Chad Pennington the first time they were together and that Moss had a chronic hamstring last season.

But Moss’s stardom in Washington is yet another indictment of former Jets coordinator Paul Hackett, who has ruined more offenses than Ray Lewis.

Q: So what happens Sunday in the Meadowlands?

A: You’ve learned to save the toughest question for last, huh? In a game that can go either way, especially a division game, the Monday Morning Quarterback generally picks the home team. So I’ll say the Giants by a field goal, but there’s not a lot of conviction behind the pick.

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