- The Washington Times - Monday, October 2, 2006

Mark Brunell couldn’t miss last week against the Texans, and the Monday Morning Quarterback yesterday sat back and prepared to watch another masterful performance.

Brunell’s first throw against the Jaguars hit hands, too. Trouble was, those hands belonged to Jacksonville cornerback Rashean Mathis, the only player in the area.

That could have been a sign of things to come for a 36-year-old quarterback who seemingly can’t throw the ball 36 yards. Pro Bowl receiver Santana Moss, however, bailed out Brunell by scooting 55 yards to the end zone after catching a short pass on the Redskins’ next possession.

Matters got even worse for the home team when assistant head coach Gregg Williams’ defense, the Redskins’ bedrock the previous two seasons, gave up two more “explosive” passes, both for touchdowns, in the first half alone.

Then Moss, Brunell, Clinton Portis and Chris Cooley, as they did down the stretch last year, powered the Redskins to a 10-point fourth-quarter lead, but the defense couldn’t hold it. Fortunately, Moss etched his name deeper into the hearts of Redskins fans with a game-winning, 68-yard touchdown reception.

Q: Two weeks ago, I thought the Redskins were dead with the season barely begun. Now I’m sky-high after they beat a Jacksonville team that had whipped Dallas, Pittsburgh and nearly won in Indianapolis. Should I be making playoff plans?

A: Let’s not get carried away, hoss. The Redskins barely squeaked by those Jaguars, and they still have to play the Colts, Panthers, Falcons, Saints and five of their six NFC East games.

Q: Is there any receiver better in the open field than my man Santana?

A: Carolina’s Steve Smith and a couple of other wideouts are pretty dangerous, too, but Moss is the most exciting Redskin since Gary Clark was rippin’ ‘em up during coach Joe Gibbs’ first reign.

Q: Remind me again why we spent big bucks on Brandon Lloyd and Antwaan Randle El? My savings account is a better investment.

A: It was amazing how little the Redskins had gotten from their new high-profile complements to Moss in the first 3 games. Lloyd made a 33-yard reception to set up Portis’ go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter yesterday. But then Lloyd killed the Redskins with a fumble at his own 18 with less than nine minutes to go, setting up a Jaguars field goal that tied the score.

Q: At least Andre Carter and Adam Archuleta finally surfaced with their first sacks. Are they worth their big contracts?

A: Nope. The sacks were nice, but Archuleta couldn’t bring down Reggie Williams on the lanky receiver’s touchdown, and Carter got toasted by Maurice Jones-Drew on the rookie running back’s 51-yard score.

Archuleta’s predecessor, Ryan Clark, knocked Cincinnati’s Chris Henry out for Pittsburgh last week. And Renaldo Wynn, Carter’s predecessor, could come close to a sack every four games, too.

Q: Speaking of sacks, the guys in the middle of the offensive line held their own against those monster Jaguars tackles, Marcus Stroud and John Henderson, didn’t they?

A: Yes, Derrick Dockery, Casey Rabach and Randy Thomas had their best game of the season against the towering teal tandem.

Q: Boy, does the defense miss Shawn Springs. When is the pride of Springbrook High School coming back?

A: The defense does badly miss Springs. In his second season, Carlos Rogers isn’t ready to be a No. 1 corner. He was beaten for the key catches on the drive that forced overtime.

It seems that Springs won’t return from his badly strained right groin before the game with Indianapolis and its potent passing attack Oct. 22. That figures to make for a tough game Sunday for the Redskins’ secondary against the Giants’ Plaxico Burress, Amani Toomer and Jeremy Shockey.

Q: So what about that game at the Meadowlands? What’s going to happen?

A: The Redskins usually get swamped in Jersey. The Giants have had an extra week to prepare and unlike the Redskins, they’ve already got a quality victory — over the Eagles. Washington could be helped by ex-Redskins linebacker LaVar Arrington, who might be so amped to show up Dan Snyder and the defensive coaches that he overruns plays.

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