- The Washington Times - Monday, October 23, 2006

INDIANAPOLIS The figurative white flag came during the most pathetic defensive quarter of Joe Gibbs Version 2.0. The Indianapolis Colts were in Washington Redskins territory (again), had just completed a long pass (again) and were on their way to another touchdown (again).

Moments after a 38-yard pass from Peyton Manning to Marvin Harrison, six Redskins defenders — count ‘em, six walked down the field with hands on their hips: Sean Taylor. Phillip Daniels. Marcus Washington. Anthony Montgomery. Kenny Wright. Warrick Holdman.

All were fatigued from chasing the Colts around the field and all semi-resigned to the fact that (a) the Colts were on their way to a come-from-behind romp and (b) the Redskins’ playoff hopes were being extinguished.

Although it took two quarters longer than expected, Indianapolis had its way with the Redskins yesterday at raucous RCA Dome, piling up 452 yards in a 36-22 victory.

It now would take an end-of-season run of epic proportions — probably 8-1 to sniff the postseason, and the Monday Morning Quarterback isn’t optimistic. The Redskins are a team that again has disappointed its constituents like the “Project Runway” judges did last week in choosing Jeffrey as the winner and like Clint Eastwood did by making “Flags of Our Fathers” too flip-floppy.

Q: Five losses in seven games heading into the bye weekend. Please tell me the season isn’t over. Do I have to cancel those nonrefundable airline tickets to Seattle for the NFC title game and Miami for the Super Bowl?

A: Sorry, but it’s over. It’s over not just because the Redskins are 2-5 heading into the bye week but also because of the way they got there: shoddy play by Mark Brunell, who threw more screens and underneath passes yesterday than Peyton Manning throws in a season. A lack of an offensive identity. A turnstile-like defensive front that rarely wins at the point of attack. And a secondary that continues to turn turtle against the top receivers.

Nothing that happened yesterday was surprising. Indianapolis trailed 14-13 at halftime, then outscored the Redskins 20-0 with touchdown drives of 55, 81 and 66 yards.

Q: The Eagles lost. The Panthers lost. The Giants or Cowboys will lose tonight. If the Redskins had pulled out a win, would they have had playoff life?

A: Sure. A win would have put the Redskins at 3-4 heading into the bye. Philadelphia is 4-3. Carolina is 4-3. Between the Giants and Cowboys, one will be 4-2 and one 3-3. And the Redskins have all four of those teams coming to FedEx Field in November and December.

But let’s not kid around. The Redskins aren’t better than any of those teams. As it stands, only Detroit, Arizona and San Francisco are worse than the Redskins.

Q: Will the Redskins make any changes between now and the Dallas home game?

A: Outside of a slight chance for a quarterback change, there’s not much the Redskins can shift around. Defensively, newcomer Troy Vincent likely will start playing more safety if Adam Archuleta continues to struggle. Rocky McIntosh may get an extended look at outside linebacker. Kedric Golston and Anthony Montgomery also will get more playing time.

Offensively, there is only one possible change — at quarterback. But it would be shocking if Gibbs says today that Jason Campbell is in and Mark Brunell is out.

Q: Antwaan Randle El had two huge first-half punt returns. Good return instincts, good blocking, bad coverage or a combination of all three?

A: Randle El’s first return, a 24-yarder late in the first quarter that led to the Redskins’ first touchdown, was all about his instincts. He hunted for an opening and found one, running down the Colts’ sideline. The second return, an 87-yard touchdown in the second quarter that put the Redskins up 14-10, was a mix of Randle El’s ability and pathetic coverage by the Colts.

Q: After Randle El’s touchdown, though, all heck broke loose with a ton of penalties and Derrick Frost losing his cool. What happened?

A: Just three more examples of a team that lacks discipline. Period. Randle El was flagged 15 yards for excessive celebration when he hugged the goal post after his touchdown. That moved the kickoff back to the Redskins 20.

On Nick Novak’s first kickoff, Sean Taylor was offsides — a 5-yard penalty. At this point, Joe Gibbs opted for a Frost free kick from the 15 that came before he was allowed. When told this, Frost blew about seven gaskets and removed his helmet — another penalty. The Colts took over at their 47 and kicked a field goal to make it 14-13 at halftime.

Average teams can’t consistently overcome field position-turning fouls. The Redskins had 10 penalties for 91 yards.

Q: With eight games remaining against currently winning teams, how bad could the Redskins’ final record be?

A: It can be argued that the Redskins will be the underdog in each of their remaining nine games. Saving the game-by-game analysis for another time, we’ll go with 5-11.

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