- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 15, 2005

Last season the Redskins got caught “misinterpreting” the NFL’s practice squad rules. The league fined them $45,000. In the spring, they got caught hitting too fervently during voluntary practices. The league took away three of their workout days. And now we have Patrick Ramsey being relieved of duty barely a quarter into the first game.

If all this had happened on Steve Spurrier’s watch, he would have been called an amateur, out of his depth, a college coach in Redskins clothing. It’s time Joe Gibbs was held to the same standards, three Super Bowl championships or not. No more free passes. No more making excuses for him.

This comeback business isn’t going very well for Coach Joe, and the quarterback catastrophe is only part of it. What about Antonio Brown? Anybody want to talk about him?

Brown nearly cost the Redskins the game Sunday when he fumbled the second-half kickoff, setting up the Bears’ only score. This came after a four-drop receiving performance in the preseason closer against the Ravens. Brown had no business making the final roster; he didn’t catch the ball well in camp, and his punt returns were negligible. Gibbs finally cut him Tuesday when the team needed an extra spot for a kicker, but what took him so long? Why didn’t he see what 99.9 percent of Redskins Nation saw?

And what’s with this sudden glorification of Sean Taylor? If memory serves, Taylor boycotted offseason workouts, wouldn’t return the coach’s phone calls, got himself in a Major Police Mess and basically conducted himself like the Anti-Redskin. He’s leading the league in only one department, near as I can tell: continuances. But on Sunday, there was No.21 pulling double duty as a wideout in the red zone — and there was Gibbs gushing about the kid’s all-world athletic ability, about how he could probably play cornerback.

Hey, maybe Sean can boot field goals, too. That would certainly come in handy, what with John Hall back in the trainer’s room again.

It’s not that Taylor isn’t a terrific talent, and it’s not that he couldn’t help out the receiver-strapped offense by catching a pass or two. It’s the message you send when you let a far from model player line up on both sides of the ball — and double his fun. Some would say the message is: We’ll do anything to win. But the message just as easily could be interpreted as: We’ll put up with anything from a guy if he’s good enough. We’ll even stroke his ego further by making him out to be the next Deion Sanders.

The Patriots throw touchdown passes to Mike Vrabel, a no-frills linebacker, the quintessential team-first type. The Redskins, when they’re in scoring territory, put Sean Taylor — Mr. No-Show, Mr. Two Arrests in Less Than a Year — at wideout. What’s wrong with this picture?

Much has already been said, here and elsewhere, about the Ramsey situation. Let me just point out, since I didn’t the other day, that other quarterbacks had rough starts to the season — including David Carr, the first pick of the 2002 draft (the same draft that produced Patrick). Carr threw three interceptions and managed a mere 70 passing yards in the Texans’ 22-7 loss to the Bills. And he’s still starting this week.

Then there’s Chad Pennington, whose first three series were almost identical to Ramsey’s. First series: sack/fumble (he recovers). Second series: sack/fumble (Chiefs recover). Third series: INT. Pennington wound up fumbling six times as the Jets fell hard to Kansas City 27-7. Herman Edwards is sticking by him, though.

Of course, the Texans and Jets don’t have Mark Brunell.

Maybe it’s the impending Dallas game that has Coach Joe so spooked. After all, if the Redskins are to make anything of this season, they have to improve on last year’s 1-5 division record, and it all starts Monday night at Texas Stadium.

It may be, too, that Gibbs has a touch of Tuna-itis. No opposing coach has had his number quite like Bill Parcells. Gibbs has dropped eight straight to Parcells — five by a field goal or less — and 13 of the last 15. The closeness of many of the games, and some of the unusual circumstances surrounding the defeats, must be driving him crazy.

I’m reminded of the words of Buck Shaw, erstwhile 49ers coach, who had a similar lack of success against a certain sideline legend. “Four years ago,” he once said, “I’d never even met Paul Brown. Now I scheme to beat him, dream of beating him and wind up screaming because I haven’t beaten him.”

Gibbs likely has the same feelings about Parcells — the same obsessive thoughts, the same chilling nightmares. And if he has to bail out on Ramsey to exorcise them, if he has to put the unreliable Taylor up on a Two-Way Player pedestal, well, it just shows how desperate things have gotten in Redskinsland.

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