- The Washington Times - Monday, September 18, 2006

IRVING, Texas The Redskins wore their burgundy jerseys for the first time since a heartbreaking loss at Tampa Bay 10 months ago, and the only such No. 26 the Monday Morning Quarterback saw belonged to the stocky fellow sitting in front of the press box.

As coach Joe Gibbs said Friday to the apparent surprise of happy-go-lucky Clinton Portis, “If you don’t practice, you don’t play.” And so the Redskins took on the Cowboys minus their lucky white-on-white unis, their franchise running back and their best cornerback, Shawn Springs, who’s still recovering from abdominal surgery. Hardly good vibes for a team that was 2-12 the previous 14 years in Big D.

After the Cowboys jumped ahead 10-0 on their first two drives, only Rock Cartwright’s 100-yard kickoff return touchdown, good defensive play and plenty of Dallas drops kept the Redskins close. Once Mark Brunell’s wounded duck was picked off at the Dallas 1 late in the third quarter and the Cowboys responded with a 99-yard touchdown drive, the game was over.

As Santana Moss, creator of last September’s stunning comeback victory here, said, the Redskins couldn’t count on two touchdown bombs in the final four minutes again.

Q: My Redskins are 0-2. They have lost to rickety old QBs Brad Johnson and Drew Bledsoe. Should I just give up now and get ready to watch Alex Ovechkin and Gilbert Arenas strut their stuff?

A: That’s a little premature with lightweights Houston and Tennessee on tap in two of their next four games and a Washington team that rallied from 5-6 to 10-6 and a playoff spot last season. However, there’s no denying the Redskins are in trouble at 0-2 with Atlanta, Chicago, Minnesota, New Orleans and Seattle all already 2-0 in the NFC race.

Q: After two games, I’m not really bowled over by this supposedly masterful scheme of new offensive guru Al Saunders. Gibbs managed better than 91/2 points a game on offense last season.

A: The offense doesn’t look good, but all the creativity in the world can’t make up for a quarterback who can’t get the receivers the football. Mark Brunell, who turned 36 yesterday, is certainly looking his age.

Q: So how about a change at QB? Coach Joe didn’t waste time pulling the plug on Patrick Ramsey in last season’s opener.

A: Gibbs never believed in Ramsey, who was the previous staff’s guy. Brunell has been Gibbs’ guy for three years. What’s more, neither Todd Collins, who’s 34 and hasn’t started a game in nine years, nor the still-raw Jason Campbell is going to get it done this season. You’re stuck with Brunell unless he gets hurt or the Redskins are eliminated from the playoff chase and start playing for the future.

Q: I can’t root for those developments. How much was Brunell hampered by not being able to hand the ball to my man C.P. last night?

A: If Portis was 100 percent, they would have missed him a bunch. But given Portis’ tender shoulder, Ladell Betts and T.J. Duckett were credible alternatives. Betts isn’t as explosive a runner as Portis, but he had a big gain on a screen pass for the second straight game. And it was good to see the burly Duckett get some work.

Q: When will C.P. be back? It seems silly to use him at less than full strength against the lowly Texans, but since he played against the Vikings, he shouldn’t be that far from coming back, right?

A: Only “Dr. I Don’t Know” knows for sure.

Q: How about Springs?

A: The Redskins definitely miss Springs, who’s clearly their best corner and also an effective blitzer. The good news for Washington fans is that Houston is, well, Houston, and that Jacksonville, its following opponent, is not blessed with big-time receivers. Maybe Springs, who has been sidelined for five weeks, will be back for the road date with the Giants and Plaxico Burress on Oct. 8.

Q: Tell me again why Snyder and Gibbs spent all those millions on Andre Carter and Adam Archuleta. Carter doesn’t get near the quarterback, and Archuleta couldn’t cover me.

A: It’s too early to pass final judgment on the new guys, but they certainly aren’t making anyone forget last year’s defense with Renaldo Wynn at end and Ryan Clark at safety the past two years.

Q: Speaking of big bucks, when are we going to see some return on the serious investment in receivers Brandon Lloyd and Antwaan Randle El?

A: For six catches for 40 yards, plus Randle El’s two runs for 7 yards and five punt returns for 38 yards in two games, the Redskins could have stuck with David Patten, James Thrash and Taylor Jacobs.

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