- The Washington Times - Monday, December 4, 2006

Jason Campbell had the kind of game two interceptions, a 52.2 passer rating young quarterbacks occasionally have.

The Washington Redskins’ defense — coming off its best game of the season returned to its can’t-stop-the-run, can’t-tackle-consistently ways.

And the Great Two-Kicker Experiment began with — what else? a missed field goal.

The Redskins’ 24-14 loss to the Atlanta Falcons yesterday was one of the more galling defeats of the season for this team — and that’s saying something, considering Mark Brunell played quarterback for most of those games.

The Redskins unofficially gave up on their officially faint hopes for a playoff berth, and the Monday Morning Quarterback couldn’t think of many positives as he climbed the four flights of stairs back to the press box yesterday evening.

Q: So much for another late-season run like the one that took the Redskins to the playoffs last season. Things looked good when they led 14-0 after one quarter. What happened to the offense after that?

A: Sometimes sticking with the game plan is the wrong thing to do. The Redskins ran easily around the left side early on but then started doing other, less successful things like running right, running up the middle and throwing short passes. They should have stayed with Ladell Betts.

Associate head coach-offense Al Saunders said he doesn’t regret his play-calling, but it left a lot to be desired. Betts carried 28 times for 155 yards, but he should have been used 40 times if the plays were working.

Q: Jason Campbell had more incompletions (20) than completions (18), plus two interceptions. How would you assess Game 3 of his starting career?

A: To use a Joe Gibbs cliche, Campbell played like the rest of the team: not good enough to win. His first interception, which led to the go-ahead touchdown, was a mistake. Campbell should have taken the sack. His second interception came as he was being hit, which happens to every quarterback. Plus, receivers dropped several passes.

Campbell and his coaches should use this game as a great learning tool. The Falcons blitzed on nearly every third-down passing situation. The Monday Morning Quarterback would have moved the pocket more often to negate the cornerback and safety blitzes and use Campbell’s mobility to his advantage.

Q: Santana Moss returned with a strong performance (seven catches, 123 yards, one touchdown). Were Moss and Campbell in sync?

A: They’re getting there. Moss hasn’t practiced full speed since injuring his hamstring in late October, so they have had to use the games to find a groove. In his second game back from the injury, Moss looked more explosive.

Using the last four games to develop a rhythm will be critical for Campbell and Moss because No. 89 is by far the team’s best receiver.

Q: OK, you have established you like Campbell, though that might have more to do with your general disdain for Brunell’s game. But what about the rest of the offense after 12 games?

A: I’ll use this chance to zero in on Brandon Lloyd. After the game, he mugged for the television cameras as if the Redskins were 8-4 and had just defeated the Falcons with ease.

Lloyd is the biggest bust on offense and, in fact, on the team (Adam Archuleta is second only because, unlike Lloyd, he hasn’t been given second, third and fourth chances).

Through 12 games, Lloyd has 20 catches for 295 yards and no touchdowns. For a guy who is on the field at least 80 percent of the time — an estimated 600 plays — that’s incredibly unproductive.

Q: Though we do enjoy your Lloyd bashing as much as we did your constant slamming of Brunell, it’s time to put the spotlight on the defense. It looked like a return to normal, right?

A: Pretty much. The Redskins were gashed for a season-high 256 rushing yards (and a 6.2-yard average). The only reason the Falcons didn’t pass for more than 122 yards is that they didn’t need to.

Shawn Springs missed another game, and Ade Jimoh proved he should be limited to special teams. The missed tackles again piled up, and Kenny Wright continued his wretched season by getting lost in coverage on Michael Jenkins’ touchdown catch.

Q: Any more nitpicks from this uneventful stinker, the best part of which was commercials promoting the impending return of (hooray!) “American Idol”?

A: Gibbs played things a little too close to the vest in the second half, for which he’s famous. Trailing 17-14 and with the ball at the Atlanta 36, Gibbs elected to punt instead of going for it on fourth-and-5. The Monday Morning Quarterback wouldn’t have attempted a field goal but would have given Campbell a shot to make a play on the run. Atlanta took over and drove 98 yards to seal the game.

The Redskins faced a fourth-and-2 at their own 49 on their next series, but Gibbs again chose to punt. Look, the team was 4-7 and trailing by 10 points. Why not gamble a little bit?

Q: What should I look for over the final quarter of the season? The playoffs are out of the question, but can this team go 3-1 down the stretch?

A: Maybe, but they should be happy if the final four weeks yield a 2-2 record. Philadelphia will be tough if it finds a way to win tonight against Carolina. St. Louis has gone in the toilet (the Rams lost to Arizona, for crying out loud; that’s like Georgetown losing to Old Dominion). New Orleans will be tough on the road, and who knows what frame of mind the Giants will be in on Dec. 30.

The Monday Morning Quarterback expects the Redskins to beat Philadelphia and St. Louis, lose to the Saints and Giants and finish with a 6-10 record.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide