By Howard Bryant
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, August 20, 2006
When it was over, and a humbling one-sided loss to the New York Jets was complete, Washington Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs stood on the podium trembling with disgust, delivering grim postgame comments designed to dump a bucket of ice water on all of the hype, all of the expectations, and whatever sense of anointment his team believes it has attained without showing it on the football field.
Judging by the reaction of Gibbs and the universally humble attitude of players in the clubhouse, last night's 27-14 loss in front of 65,538 at FedEx Field was even more disappointing than last week's 19-3 injury-marred loss to Cincinnati.
The Redskins are 0-2 in the preseason, but worse than the meaningless record is the realization that they have little momentum upon which to build after two games. Unlike last week's loss, in which each of the Redskins' three quarterbacks threw an interception and the first-team offense struggled while the first-team defense sparkled, last night it was the Redskins' defense, special teams and an inconsistent offense that were a work in progress.
"I'm concerned. Let's put it that way. We didn't play good and that's it," Gibbs said. "I think we all need to take a serious hard look at all of this. From my standpoint, I sure haven't done my job so far. I think we're all together, all the way across the board. . . . I'm sure some guys did some good things, but I'm concerned about the team. You've got to play good as a team, and we're not."
The first-team defense, so dominant last week, was tested early by power running and was burned by a big, trick play. The second team, considered to be the major proving ground for players trying to win roster spots, was manhandled by the Jets' reserves, particularly in the third quarter, when the Jets held the ball for 11 minutes 58 seconds.
"They didn't do anything special. They just ran the ball down our throats," said safety Antuan Edwards. "When you let them stay on the field for what, 12 minutes? They just took it to us."
The first-team offense still has not scored a touchdown, after going three-and-out on its first two series, and the frustrations of learning a new offense mounted. The Redskins' time of possession was 22:29.
"I'm concerned with our level of consistency," quarterback Mark Brunell said. "If you have 12 plays, we want 12 good plays. Right now, we're at about six."
Punter Derrick Frost, who is being considered by Gibbs to take over kickoff duties to preserve the health of John Hall, did not fare well. Frost's first kickoff of the game was short and returned for 47 yards. His second was shorter, and was returned for an 87-yard touchdown.
There were few moments that on another day could soothe a chafing coaching staff, but Gibbs would not be mollified last night. Antwaan Randle El, unable to connect with his quarterbacks as a slot receiver last week, caught two passes for 42 yards, and quarterback Jason Campbell made his first significant positive impact in a game situation in his quest to win the backup job to Brunell. Proving himself as a short-yardage option, Mike Sellers rushed three times for 26 yards, and the one area in which the first-team defense did acquit itself was in showing a late stoutness. After once allowing the Jets to move up and then being forced to defend a short field because of a Campbell interception, the first-team defense yielded just 10 points.
But this was a night where the defense -- as well as the reserve players trying to win a job on special teams -- got pushed around.
"What do they say, that you're never as good when you're going good, and you're never as bad as when you're going bad? Right now, we're going bad," said defensive end Renaldo Wynn, who missed a chance to make a tackle on Brad Smith's first-quarter reverse that went for a 61-yard touchdown. "We're putting our credibility on the line and we don't like this kind of play to reflect on us the way it did. I'm ready to get this taste out of my mouth because it's not a good taste at all."
The first-team defense blitzed early but on their second series the Jets held the ball for 6:42 and moved 56 yards on 13 plays on Washington's first unit with a combination of hard running and moderately successful short passing. Jets running back Derrick Blaylock averaged 4.6 yards on 10 carries.
If the defense seemed to collect itself by sending the Jets' first unit to sideline by pushing it out of field goal range and then a three-and-out on its next series, it was badly burned on the Jets' next offensive series.
On first and 10 from his 39, Leon Washington took a Patrick Ramsey handoff and as he headed toward left guard, handed off to wide receiver Smith. The reverse caught the Redskins in over-pursuit. Smith raced toward the right and slipped past diving left end Wynn. As Smith turned the corner, newly acquired cornerback Mike Rumph was knocked out of the play. Left guard Pete Kendall buried Adam Archuleta and Smith danced 61 yards for a touchdown.
After the play, Gregg Williams, assistant head coach-defense, fumed. He singled out Rumph for being blown out of the play. Last week in Cincinnati, Williams's second-team defense was burned by another trick play, a 52-yard flea-flicker.
"We need to get on the ball. We need to get to work," said reserve safety Pierson Prioleau. "Because before you know it, we'll be doing this for real and we better be ready."