- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 7, 2007

The Detroit Lions came to Washington with the NFL’s best aerial attack while the Redskins‘ 21st-rated passing game was without top receiver Santana Moss. So naturally the Redskins came out passing yesterday and the Lions came out running.

But like the temperature registering 88 degrees on Oct. 7, little made sense. Minus Moss (and after halftime, temporary No. 1 receiver Antwaan Randle El), Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell lit up the Lions like the Vegas Strip. Meanwhile, Detroit’s Jon Kitna, who came in leading the NFL in passing yardage, was more out of rhythm than a garage band during its first session.

The Redskins’ 34-3 romp re-established their confidence in the wake of the blown 14-point halftime lead the last time out against the then-winless New York Giants. It also reminded the Monday Morning Quarterback yet again that he’s very glad he doesn’t bet on the NFL.

Q: Sounds like a cop-out, Mr. Football. You look pretty bad for picking the Lions, don’t ya?

A: Yup. And it wasn’t just the karma from Detroit being winless forever (now 0-21) in Washington and from Redskins coach Joe Gibbs’ mastery (now 12-0). The Redskins dominated this one from the start. I’m not convinced yet that the Redskins are true contenders, but I do believe the Lions are still the pretenders they’ve been during my 40 years watching football.

Q: How does Campbell post a 69.6 passer rating in three games with Moss and nearly double that (125.3) without Moss and, for half the game, Randle El?

A: The Lions couldn’t cover a news conference. Seriously, that was one of the worst pass defenses I’ve ever seen. But give Campbell credit, too. He hit the open receivers and lost a couple of long completions to James Thrash, who landed just out of bounds, or he would have been over 300 yards for the first time in his career.

Q: Gregg Williams comes across as Mr. Know-It-All, but it’s sure looking like last year’s defensive collapse was a fluke, isn’t it?

A: Other than the second half against the Giants, the Redskins are playing as well defensively as they did in Williams’ first two years.

Q: What’s the scoop with Campbell lining up as a wideout?

A: Al Saunders probably has been frustrated by coach Joe Gibbs’ conservative nature, so when he got the chance to try something creative, he went all out. Clinton Portis gained 13 yards on the first direct snap with Campbell split wide to jump-start Washington’s second touchdown drive. However, the Lions handled it better the second time, stopping Portis for a yard on Washington’s last play of the half.

Q: Lions coach Rod Marinelli made his name as one of the assistant for those great Tampa Bay defenses. So how did his players leave Randle El open the whole first half with Moss inactive? And how did the Lions not know that Campbell was going to look for Chris Cooley on the left side of the end zone on third down inside the 10?

A: Like the Bengals’ Marvin Lewis, who earned a reputation as a defensive genius as a coordinator for the Ravens, Marinelli somehow has wound up with an offensively potent, defensively porous team.

Q: So how far down is Brandon Lloyd on the depth chart?

A: So low that you would need a shovel to find him although he did finally make his first catch of the season in the second half. Defensive end Andre Carter’s safety yesterday gave him more points as a Redskin (two) than Lloyd, also his teammate in San Francisco.

Keenan McCardell, who had all of four practices as a Redskin and is 37, played ahead of Lloyd yesterday. So did Reche Caldwell, who has been a Redskin less than a month. I’m surprised Coach Joe didn’t play Gary Clark, the 45-year-old former Pro Bowl receiver who was inducted into the Ring of Fame at halftime, before Lloyd.

Q: So now that all is right in burgundy-and-gold land again, do the Redskins go to Green Bay and take care of the Packers?

A: Both Washington and Green Bay are better than I thought before the season, but as I write this, the Packers are the NFC’s top team outside of Texas and they’re at home. Gotta go with the Pack.

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