- The Washington Times - Friday, April 7, 2006

Washington coach Joe Gibbs found little reason to complain about the Redskins’ 2006 schedule, which was released yesterday.

After opening ESPN’s inaugural season of “Monday Night Football” on Sept. 11 at home against Minnesota — the team they upset in the 2004 closer — the Redskins don’t play another non-Sunday game until the season finale Saturday night, Dec. 30 at home on the NFL Network against the defending NFC East champion New York Giants. What’s more, this is the fifth straight year the Redskins, 10-6 last season, will open at home.

“I like it that after that first Monday, it’s all Sundays until the last Saturday, but I think they should have a rule that if you play on Monday night, you should get to play at home the next week,” Gibbs said.

Washington’s Oct. 29 bye comes seven weeks into the season and is sandwiched between two tough games, at AFC South champion Indianapolis on Oct. 22 and the visit by archrival Dallas on Nov. 5.

“Last year the bye was too early [Week 3],” Gibbs said. “You need a break about halfway.”

The Redskins haven’t played at Indianapolis since 1999. They visit Dallas in Week 2 (Sept.17) for the second straight season. The game is on national television again, this time Sunday night on NBC.

Although Washington swept Dallas last year for the first time since 1995, Gibbs won’t be happy about having to travel on a short week, especially for a game against the Cowboys. Gibbs is just 8-13 against Cowboys coach Bill Parcells, and the Redskins had won just one of their past 15 in the NFC East series before last year.

“Our problem with any schedule is the NFC East because we have to play the Giants, Dallas and Philly twice every year,” Gibbs said.

The Redskins return to the Lone Star State the following Sunday (Sept. 24) for their first visit to the Houston Texans. Washington last played in Houston in 1988 against the Oilers. After AFC wild card Jacksonville visits for the first time since 1997 on Oct. 1, the Redskins travel to the Giants on Oct. 8 before welcoming Tennessee to FedEx Field for the first time since 2000 on Oct. 15. Gibbs suffered the worst loss of his 14-year Hall of Fame career in October in New York, a defeat the Redskins paid back at home in December.

“November is a killer,” lamented Gibbs, whose team starts the month with that visit by the Cowboys before making the trip to Philadelphia on Nov. 12. The Redskins swept the Eagles last year for the first time since 1988, clinching their first playoff berth since 1999 with a season-ending 31-20 road victory. Next comes the Nov. 19 rematch at Tampa Bay, which will be out to avenge a 17-10 home wild-card loss to Washington from last season.

The Redskins then play three straight home games: Nov. 26 against Carolina, a NFC finalist in two of the past three years; Dec. 3 against Atlanta as former Virginia Tech All-American quarterback Michael Vick makes his first FedEx appearance; and Dec. 10 against the Eagles, NFC East champions from 2001 to 2004.

Before closing the season against the Giants, the Redskins visit New Orleans on Dec. 17 for the first time since Hurricane Katrina sent the Saints on the road for all of 2005.

“Knowing everything that has happened there, playing [in New Orleans] means something,” Gibbs said.

The Redskins play at St. Louis on Dec. 24 before their home finale against New York the next week.

Note — The Redskins signed linebacker Chris Clemons, the last of the three restricted free agents tendered by the club, to a one-year, $722,000 contract. Clemons is the front-runner to replace departed weak-side starter LaVar Arrington.

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