- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Knock, knock. “Who’s there?” asks Redskins quarterback Rex Grossman. “Golden,” comes the reply. “Ms. Golden Opportunity.”

“Come in,” Grossman says. “I’ve been waiting for you.”

He’s not the only one. The fortunes of the franchise and several key players can take a dramatic uptick with a victory Sunday, when Washington hosts the reeling Philadelphia Eagles. Already atop the NFC East with a 3-1 record, the Redskins can push 1-4 Philadelphia a step closer to elimination while reinforcing the notion that they’re legitimate postseason contenders.

The biggest reason to suspect the Redskins are frauds is under center. Grossman ranks in the bottom third of NFL quarterbacks no matter which system you prefer, whether it’s ESPN’s newfangled Total QB rating (21st), or the standard NFL passer rating (tied for 24th).

His near-interceptions have been as frightful and plentiful as his actual picks (five), which along with two fumbles give credence to his reputation as a walking turnover.

“The only thing you’ve proved so far is that the Redskins can win in spite of you as much as because of you,” Ms. Opp says. “But you’ll have a huge audience and an unexpectedly big game to take another step in rebranding yourself.”

“Thanks a lot,” Grossman says. “I’ll try to not let it slip through my hands or carelessly toss it away. Now if you can visit LaRon Landry and DeAngelo Hall on the other side of the ball, I’m sure they’d love to see you.”

Landry and Hall are the starting secondary’s holdovers from the last Eagles-Redskins game, when Michael Vick passed for 333 yards and four touchdowns, including an 88-yarder to DeSean Jackson on the first play from scrimmage. You might remember that Jackson later accused Landry and Hall of making pregame “night-night” taunts for a concussion he suffered earlier in the season.

You also might recall Jackson victimizing both of them to start the game, easily beating Hall’s jam at the line of scrimmage before roasting Landry down the deep middle. The pair was more competitive in the pregame skirmish than the 60 minutes of football that followed.

“That was a terrible showing on Monday Night Football,” Ms. Opp says. “Keep your mouths shut this time and show some class. The Eagles are still a dangerous offensive team with multiple weapons. But this is your chance to remind us how good the Redskins defense used to be and how good it can be now.”

“It’d be a lot easier without that zero-blitz call against Dallas, just a week after I was torched by Larry Fitzgerald on a 73-yarder,” Hall says, “but I still want to cover the other team’s best receiver. Give me a little help with Jackson when I need it - I’ll tell you afterward when those times were.”

Landry interjects: “Observers said I was en route to becoming one of the league’s top safeties last season and I want to get back on track,” he says. “I just need to make it through an entire game without IV fluids or a bathroom break.

“But if you’re looking for a player who really needs a break, go holler at Tim Hightower.”

What appeared to be a feel-good, homecoming story through training camp and into the regular season has morphed into an eerie sense of deja vu for Hightower. Arizona decided it had better options at feature back and traded him to Washington. Now, after a shoulder injury helped make room for strong performances by rookie Roy Helu and veteran Ryan Torain, Hightower’s role - and starting job - is uncertain.

“There were no second thoughts after you rushed for 168 yards through the first two games,” Ms. Opp says. “Your running style, blocking skills and receiving ability made you an ideal every-down back. With the Eagles owning the NFL’s third-worst rushing defense, yielding 140 yards per game, this is your shot to stay atop the depth chart.”

“I know, I know,” Hightower says. “I probably should have opened up about my shoulder injury before the coaches started questioning my production. I was used to questions in Arizona. But the funny thing is, they were mostly about coughing up the football. I haven’t fumbled at all this season.”

“Uh-oh,” says Ms. Opp “You shouldn’t mention that. Especially not this week, with the Eagles-Redskins game going to 25 percent of the country. The only 1 p.m. game with a bigger audience is 49ers-Lions, at 33 percent.”

Knock, knock.

“Who’s there?” Hightower asks.

“Bad,” comes the reply. “Mr. Bad Timing.”

With so much at stake for the Redskins, individually and collectively, no visitor would be more unwelcome Sunday at FedEx Field.

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