By Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 7, 2006
The Washington Redskins will open the 2006 season with consecutive prime-time games, including a Week 2 visit to NFC East rival Dallas, marking the home debut of the Cowboys' new star receiver, Terrell Owens. The Redskins host Minnesota Sept. 11 on "Monday Night Football," before traveling to Dallas for the first of six NFC East games.
The quick turnaround between those games immediately caught the attention of Coach Joe Gibbs when the schedule became official yesterday, and was one of several sources of concern for the Hall of Fame coach, who admittedly has "never seen [a schedule] I liked."
"To me, I'd love to have it if they just had a rule that if you play on Monday night you get to play at home the next week," Gibbs said. "It's tough to operate on a short work week like that. That's the first thing I see."
Washington's bye will come in Week 8 -- a far more preferable spot than its Week 3 break in 2005. "That's the best time to have it," Gibbs said of this year's bye.
After the bye, the team will face only NFC opponents. The Redskins will be home for Thanksgiving weekend -- against Carolina -- and at St. Louis for a Christmas Eve game.
Their regular season finale will be Saturday, Dec. 30 against the New York Giants at FedEx Field. Games in Weeks 10-15 could be moved to Sunday night starts with the league's new flexible prime-time schedule.
The Redskins -- 0-8 against the AFC in two seasons under Gibbs -- face all four of their opponents from that conference in a five-week stretch that begins Sept. 24. Washington meets AFC South teams this season, traveling to Houston in Week 3, hosting Jacksonville the following Sunday (in a 4:15 start), then hosting Tennessee in Week 6 and traveling to Indianapolis in Week 7 (also at 4:15). The New York Giants break up that AFC stretch by hosting the Redskins in Week 5.
The second half of the season kicks off with Dallas at FedEx Field in Week 9 (Nov. 5). Then the Redskins head to Philadelphia on Nov. 12 and Tampa Bay on Nov. 19 (Washington won at Tampa in the playoffs last season). Carolina, Atlanta and Philadelphia then come to Washington for the Redskins' longest homestand of the season.
"That stretch in November, that's a killer," said Gibbs, who was pleased that 14 of 16 games are on Sundays, allowing for normal practice and preparation routines.
The Redskins finish with two of their final three games on the road -- at New Orleans and St. Louis before to finishing up against the Giants in a game that will be televised on the NFL Network. Washington and New York split their regular season series last season and both reached the playoffs. As always, Gibbs said the mere chore of playing so many games in the NFC East makes any schedule formidable.
"This will be a real challenge, I'll put it that way," Gibbs said.