- The Washington Times - Monday, October 9, 2006

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — So much for everything being A-OK for the Redskins.

The good feelings generated by wins over the Texans and Jaguars were lost somewhere between Ashburn and the Meadowlands. Yesterday the Redskins regained their mid-September form: The offense’s inability to move the ball against the Giants was matched only by the defense’s inability to get off the field.

The Giants’ home stadium remains a house of horrors for coach Joe Gibbs, who dropped to 0-3 at that venue since his return to the Redskins after a lifeless defeat that dropped the burgundy and gold back to 2-3.

The Redskins let the opener against the Vikings get away from them in the fourth quarter, and the Week 2 defeat in Dallas was a lost cause from the kickoff (no Clinton Portis).

The Monday Morning Quarterback, however, found only one positive as he surveyed the latest debacle: The Redskins get the woeful, winless Titans at home next week. Whoops, check that. The Titans might present a stiffer challenge than first thought: They played the Colts down to the wire yesterday before falling to 0-5.

Q: Yikes. This looked like the 2004 Redskins: a bad offense and a defense that bends (allowing field goals), then busts (being overworked and allowing touchdowns). What’s the biggest concern for the Redskins after this game?

A: They are 0-2 in the NFC East and couldn’t take advantage of a Giants team that entered yesterday’s game with one of the league’s worst pass defenses. The Redskins didn’t challenge LaVar Arrington and didn’t throw enough at the Giants’ suspect corners and safeties.

Instead, they challenged the wrong defender (Antonio Pierce) in the run game with little success (78 yards on 20 carries). Granted, Brunell was under pressure for most of the game. But as much as we were impressed by Al Saunders’ play-calling against Houston and Jacksonville, we were just as disappointed with this game plan.

Q: Some second-guessing of Gibbs: The Redskins trailed 16-3 late in the third quarter and faced third-and-1 at the Giants 24. What went wrong from there?

A: Two nitpicks from this drive. First, where was T.J. Duckett on that third-down play? The Redskins acquired Duckett for just that situation, a bulldozer who could ram head-first into the line of scrimmage and get the first down. Instead, Brunell threw a risky pass to Chris Cooley, who was draped by two defenders.

Nitpick No. 2: Why kick the field goal? A field goal — John Hall missed from 42 yards — would have cut the lead from 13 to 10 points, still two scores. A rare roll of the dice by Gibbs was required in that situation. Following the game, Gibbs defended the decision by saying he just wanted to put points — any kind of points — on the board.

Q: Without Clinton Portis being effective on stretch plays, where does that leave the Redskins’ offense in terms of creativity? We know about Santana Moss and Chris Cooley, but what about Antwaan Randle El and Brandon Lloyd?

A: Randle El has been a pleasant surprise as a receiver, and he made a nice 13-yard catch on third-and-long in the second half. His impact on punt returns was limited by the fact the Giants punted only once.

Brandon Lloyd is another story. The guy’s got a huge contract and is playing for a team with playoff aspirations — a far different situation from last season with the 49ers. Lloyd last year was playing out his rookie contract for a bad team. He remains a nonfactor in the offense, and it’s time to stop blaming Saunders for not involving him and start criticizing Lloyd for underperforming.

Q: OK, you’ve ripped the offense. Now take on the defense. Was it as bad as the statistics suggest?

A: No, it was worse. We can’t think of one big play made by the Redskins’ defense the entire game. The Giants averaged 6 yards — six! — a snap, and the 411 total yards were the most allowed by the Redskins this season. The score easily could have been worse if the Giants had not made mistakes inside the Redskins 30-yard line.

Q: The pass defense seems to get worse and worse every week. Will Shawn Springs make that much of a difference?

A: Earlier in the season, we thought Springs would solve all the problems in the secondary. Now, though, he only will limit the severity of the problem. Eli Manning finished 23-for-33 for 256 yards and a 102.6 rating. He took advantage of a defensive backfield that gets turned around in coverage too often and misses way too many tackles.

Q: I don’t have any expectations for Mike Rumph or Kenny Wright back there. Sean Taylor has been a disappointment. Isn’t he the best athlete Gregg Williams has ever coached?

A: He may be the most gifted athlete, but let’s face facts: Taylor is nearly 2 seasons into his NFL career and, well, has he met the standard set by Roy Williams, Ed Reed or even wily veteran Darren Sharper? Heck no.

Taylor got turned around — again — in pass coverage yesterday, caused a Tiki Barber fumble the Redskins didn’t recover and whiffed on a tackle when he chose to vault his shoulder into thin air. The MMQB was expecting a monster year from Taylor that would be highlighted by interceptions, big hits and touchdowns. He has yet to deliver.

Q: Before yesterday, Tennessee was 0-5 and appeared to be a pushover win for the Redskins. The Titans pushed Indianapolis to the brink on the road before losing. Should this game worry me?

A: Not really. The Titans missed a great opportunity to down a far superior team in the Colts and will suffer a letdown against the Redskins. Williams traditionally fares well against young quarterbacks, and they don’t get any greener than Vince Young, who will be making his third NFL start.

A win and the Redskins are 3-3 going to Indianapolis before the bye; a stunning loss to the Titans and the season is over.

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