- The Washington Times - Monday, November 13, 2006

PHILADELPHIA — Just think, Jason Campbell fans, had the Redskins not lucked into victory over the Cowboys last week, No. 17 would be in line to make his debut at Tampa Bay on Sunday.

The win over Dallas, however, saved the Redskins’ season for a week and Mark Brunell his starting job for at least three additional games. So even though yesterday was another giant step backward in a season full of false starts and false hopes, Brunell somehow played the entire game. Joe Gibbs did say after the 27-3 whitewashing by the Philadelphia Eagles that Todd Collins was warming up to enter in relief.

Not that Collins, Campbell or any other quarterback would have made a big difference at rainy Lincoln Financial Field. The defense remains vulnerable to big plays. The offense remains stuck, period. The entire team remains apt to draw penalties. And the Monday Morning Quarterback desperately hopes CEO Joe pulls the plug on this season. Playing out the string with Campbell is far more intriguing than doing so with Brunell.

Q: Where do you start with this one? We’re safe to assume this was a new low?

A: This Redskins’ campaign has turned into a season about nothing, only without the humor that made the show about nothing, “Seinfeld,” television’s best-ever situation comedy.

At least on the tube, you could count on the weekly hijinks from Jerry, George, Kramer and Elaine. Hijinks from Brunell, Portis, Taylor and Rogers include no jokes and plenty of bad passes, broken bodies, careless penalties and big pass plays allowed.

Yesterday was one of the two biggest lows since Gibbs returned, right up there with the 36-0 drubbing by the Giants last year. But that Redskins team rebounded. This Redskins team is not wired the same way.

Q: But didn’t the schedule-makers wrong the Redskins? This was their third road game against a team coming off a bye. The Eagles were expected to come out humming, right?

A: Yes, but the Eagles could have played at Penn State on Saturday, traveled by stagecoach through the rain back home and still beat the Redskins.

Forget problems with the schedule, the officiating, the weather conditions and the injuries. This is a flawed team that has shown zero improvement from the opening day of training camp. It was never in the game. Period.

Q: Sean Taylor picked up two more 15-yard penalties, his first two enforced personal foul calls since a pair against the Vikings in Week 1. Couple that with missed tackles and where is No. 21’s development right now?

A: Taylor would be labeled an enigma even if he was playing like a fifth overall draft pick. He doesn’t produce turnovers, misses too many tackles and is penalty prone — not a great combination for a safety.

Worse yet, he has taken a big step back this season. He was one of the culprits on Donovan McNabb’s 84-yard touchdown pass to Donte Stallworth. And now when Taylor gets a personal foul, he barely gets his money’s worth. The Taylor in 2004 and 2005 absolutely would level a guy late out of bounds or deliver a forearm shiver to the forehead in the middle of the field. Yesterday he barely grazed Brian Westbrook.

Q: Who else should be blaming himself on defense? Taylor can’t be the entire problem.

A: Let’s start with a secondary that continues to be dreadful. Corner Carlos Rogers gives way too much cushion on third down, expecting every team to throw long. Memo to Carlos: This is the NFL. Just because it’s third-and-8 doesn’t mean a receiver can’t catch a ball 6 yards down the line of scrimmage and make the first down.

The defense as a whole still can’t record a takeaway to save its NFLPA pension. The last takeaway by the Redskins was Phillip Daniels’ interception against Jacksonville … six weeks ago.

Q: What took so long for the Redskins to insert T.J. Duckett when Clinton Portis went down with a broken right hand?

A: The non-use of Duckett continues to be the second-biggest mystery (outside of Gibbs’ reluctance to play Campbell) in a puzzling season.

Several weeks ago, Gibbs defended the Duckett trade this way: If Portis was injured, the Redskins would be ripped for not acquiring Duckett. Well, Portis is out for several weeks, and Duckett had exactly two carries and one reception.

Here’s a thought: Next week in Tampa, start Campbell at quarterback and start Duckett at running back and see what takes place. It probably won’t happen, though.

Q: Speaking of Brunell, we know CEO Joe loves No. 8 because he is a veteran, and Gibbs hates to take chances. But what’s up with him throwing 5-yard screen passes on third-and-long?

A: Al Saunders would love to call more plays downfield, but he can’t. When he has a quarterback who can make all of the throws in the playbook, the Redskins will be better off.

Q: Now it’s time to cheer us up. Don’t tell us that it’s time to concentrate on George Mason hoops or the Capitals (we don’t get the NBA and aren’t interested). Can you give us something to be happy about?

A: Well, Tampa Bay is 2-6 entering tonight’s game at Carolina, and when two awful teams play Sunday, each has an equal shot at winning. Other than that, there aren’t any positives.

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