- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 14, 2006

1. No offense is humming along like New Orleans’ right now. The Saints have won three straight games, scoring 31, 34 and 42 points and totaling 427, 375 and 536 yards. In their last loss, the Saints gained 595 yards against Cincinnati.

The problem the Saints present — and a problem the Redskins won’t be able to solve — is their variety of weapons. They use running backs as receivers, receivers as running backs, tight ends as receivers … it’s a very creative offense by Sean Payton.

The Redskins’ problem is they don’t have enough players with coverage skills. And they can’t get to the quarterback. Drew Brees has 479 pass attempts and has been sacked only 15 times.

2. More from the stat geeks in cyber world, some more interesting numbers about the lack of takeaways by the Redskins defense. I addressed the topic in Wednesday’s paper.

The Redskins have forced a takeaway once every 99.3 snaps - eight takeaways in 794 plays. Two reasons why that number is astonishing: It is 62.1 plays BELOW the league average and 37 plays below the 31st-ranked least-opportunistic team (Tampa Bay, 62.3 snaps).

Not only do the Redskins rank last in takeaways, they also rank last in sacks (15).

Because they can’t get the ball and because they can’t get to the quarterback, the Redskins struggle making stops in the red zone. Opponents have 35 scores (18 touchdowns and 17 field goals) in 38 trips inside the 20. By comparison, the Redskins’ offense has come up empty eight times in the red zone.

3. The Saints’ turnaround this season is even more impressive when you look at how the team was built. This isn’t a team whose holdover players simply improved from 2005 to 2006. Payton and GM Mickey Loomis overhauled the roster this offseason.

In Sunday’s game, rookies Reggie Bush, Jahri Evans and Marques Colston will play big roles and free agent pickups Drew Brees, Mark Campbell, Billy Cundiff, Mark Campbell, Scott Fujita and Omar Stoutmire will do the same. And they traded for center Jeff Faine and linebacker Scott Shanle.

Only Brees was what I would term a “big money” acquisition. It’s a strategy that has worked.

The wise spending leaves the Saints some cap room this offseason to add players they term as final pieces to the roster. The Redskins, meanwhile, are in rebuilding mode.

4. In the Redskin Park media room after practice today was a lively discussion about our favorite sitcoms as kids and as adults. Two writers went as far to list their 10 favorites. I didn’t do that, but in my lifetime of television viewing - starting in the mid 1980s, my fave sitcoms are: Seinfeld (best of all-time), Curb Your Enthusiasm (Larry David = comic genius), Cosby Show (Bill Cosby = King of Comedy), Growing Pains (Alan Thicke’s Jason Seaver character was terrific) and Cheers (got to appreciate it more through re-runs). Friends is later on down the list, but it was too inconsistent.

5. “Survivor” hits the home stretch tonight on CBS with a show tonight and the finale on Sunday night. I gave up on this season’s installment pretty quickly because dividing the contestants by ethnicity. That angle crashed badly because everybody basically loved each other and Mark Burnett quickly changed the game, splitting the teams up. I picked up the show a few weeks ago and instantly got to like Jonathan because he was playing the game instead of making friends and because most of the leftovers couldn’t stand him.

Jonathan was more hated than Richard Hatch in Season 1. But what the contestants, most of them, quickly forget when they arrive in the certain locale is that “Survivor” is a game for $1 million, not a vacation to make friends.

But Jonathan got bounced last week by his own alliance. Couldn’t name most of the remaining folks but I’ll tune in anyway.

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