- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Q: Al Saunders was supposed to open up the Redskins’ dink-and-dunk offense, but clearly they went back to the old way to beat the Texans on Sunday. Any chance Coach Joe persuaded Saunders to make the switch? — Jimmy Sherman

A: I think CEO Joe Gibbs made his opinion known in the early part of the week, when the game plan was conceived. But I also think Saunders knows Mark Brunell isn’t Trent Green and he isn’t Kurt Warner. So Saunders adjusted his passing game accordingly and the result was a plan that called for short, quick throws. Guessing Saunders’ hope is that this gives the offense some confidence and with Clinton Portis back, more downfield throws can be ordered.

Q: I was somewhat pleased with the Redskins performance [Sunday]. However, I am still a bit concerned. I am a lifetime fan, but it will take a victory over Jacksonville to convince me. What is your take on all of the attention we get for a victory over Houston? — Coop

A: It will also take a victory over the 2-1 Jaguars to convince me. The Houston win was good — it saved the season, the offense did its job, the defense showed signs of improvement and the Redskins did what a decent team should do against an NFL Europe-style roster. They dictated the play and led 31-7 before calling off the dogs. But the Jaguars represent a stiffer challenge and if the Redskins fall to 1-3, they’re back to being a team in serious trouble.

Q: We are three games into the season, and I have yet to see Andre Carter do anything positive other than look chiseled in burgundy and gold, what are your thoughts on this? — Michael M. in Delaware

A: Carter’s lack of production is becoming a bigger issue with each passing game. Against Houston, the coaches’ defensive stats credited with him with just one assist. For the season, he has only four solo tackles. The excuses are flying all around Redskin Park — he’s getting double-teamed, quarterbacks are throwing quick. Blah, blah, blah. It’s time for Carter to start winning the one-on-one battles.

Q: I seem to recall Joe Gibbs using big backs with great efficiency, like Riggins, Riggs and Byner. Why can’t they do the same with T.J. Duckett? Is he not nearly as good? I would think the “Dirt Bags,” as Joe Bugel calls them, could make him go. — Dennis Miller

A: For the first time in his five-year career, Duckett was a healthy scratch on Sunday. His inactivity remains a mystery. Gibbs said the decision to sit Duckett was because the Redskins needed a third tight end because of injury issues. I buy that. But now that Clinton Portis has returned, who knows where Duckett fits in. He has five carries this season. An upcoming free agent, his value is plummeting and the Redskins’ decision to give up potentially two draft picks is looking like a disaster. Jacksonville has two mammoth defensive tackles — Marcus Stroud and John Henderson. Duckett deserves a chance to butt heads with them.

Q: Well lookie here: The Redskins actually have an NFL punter this year! Please tell me Derrick Frost is going to keep this up. — Peter Ranawat

A: Got to give it up for Frost. The much-maligned punter averaged 56 yards — including a career-best 60-yard boot — on his two punts against the Texans and through three games his gross average is 49.3 yards — second-best in the NFL. And his 40.1-yard net average (gross average minus the opponent’s punt return average) is eighth. Frost is one less thing the Redskins have to worry about and I guess he was right before the Minnesota game when he said he was close to becoming a consistent performer. The punt coverage team needs to be better than their 24th-place ranking.

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