Redskins' offense not making its points
ASHBURN, Va. -- With eight minutes to play against the Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins receivers Santana Moss, Brandon Lloyd and Antwaan Randle El had one catch apiece. Tight end Chris Cooley had none.
That's a lot of talent going to waste.
"We've got playmakers there. We are disappointed in it," coach Joe Gibbs said Monday. "We've got guys there that we think can make great contributions to the team. Right now, we're not able to get them the ball. If we continue with that, we're going to be in deep trouble."
There's plenty of blame to go around.
The Redskins are 0-2 following Sunday night's 27-10 beating by their archrival, and the offense has scored only one touchdown through the first eight quarters of the season. Next week's game at hapless Houston has moved from "sure win" to "must win," and quarterback Mark Brunell, offensive guru Al Saunders and the offensive line all under scrutiny.
"I'm definitely concerned," center Casey Rabach said. "With the talent we have here, the coaching staff we have here, the preparation all week that we have, I don't understand what's not clicking in these games."
For starters, Brunell is playing the way he did two years ago, when he lost his job in midseason. He is 9-for-22 for 81 yards on third downs through two games, a 32.6 rating that is next-to-last in the league. His first interception of the season, a floater snagged in double coverage by Dallas safety Roy Williams at the 1-yard line, sapped the only momentum the Redskins had in the second half.
"Mark's a little bit like our offense in general," Gibbs said. "Inconsistent. I think he's made some very good plays for us. I think it's just a matter of us all getting in a groove."
Saunders was given $2 million a year to bring his high-scoring Kansas City offense to Washington, but his 700-page play book doesn't seem to have a way to solve the basic "Cover 2" zone defense. Moss was visibly agitated Monday as he discussed the deep coverages that are keeping the Redskins from getting the ball downfield.
"You're going to be frustrated because they keep showing that kind of coverage," Moss said. "If you finally get open -- and they finally give you that man-to-man coverage -- you can't execute because Mark's running for his life."
A strong running game will beat a Cover 2, but Ladell Betts and T.J. Duckett combined for 64 yards on just 16 carries Sunday, with Clinton Portis missing the game with a shoulder injury. Gibbs said the team isn't running ball enough, a byproduct of the inability to keep drives alive. The Redskins are 6-for-27 in third-down conversions.
While Portis' absence is significant, the holes aren't being opened by the offensive line -- the same line that allowed Brunell to get sacked six times by the Cowboys.
Then there's the defense, which allowed five first downs on penalties. The secondary again looked suspect without injured cornerback Shawn Springs. Pass-rusher Andre Carter is so far a non-factor, and the Redskins have only two sacks in two games.
The Redskins were whistled for 11 penalties for 117 yards on Sunday, and Gibbs said he carefully reviewed every infraction with each player involved.
"We're an aggressive secondary so they're watching us real close," said cornerback Mike Rumph, who got things started with a holding penalty on Dallas' first drive. "The little things that some other teams might have gotten away with, we're not getting away with."
Gibbs acknowledged there are many theories about the Redskins' struggles, but he rebuffed most of them. Has Saunders' play book has overwhelmed the offense?
"All of us inside don't feel that way."
Is 36-year-old Brunell is getting too old?
"I don't see that."
While the coach didn't offer any immediate solutions, he did indicate some regret over the way he conducted the preseason. He had his lightest, shortest training camp ever and ran very little of the team's new offensive schemes during a confidence-sapping 0-4 run.
"Will I approach preseason next year the way I approached it this year? Probably not," Gibbs said.
Later, he added: "I'll probably approach right now everything different -- unless we get this straightened out."
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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