In Strange Statistics, Little Is Encouraging

Second-round draft choice Rocky McIntosh has not started a game yet at weak-side linebacker.
Second-round draft choice Rocky McIntosh has not started a game yet at weak-side linebacker. "Rocky's improving," coach Gregg Williams said. (By John McDonnell -- The Washington Post)
By Howard Bryant
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, November 17, 2006

Over the course of a 3-6 season, the Washington Redskins have accomplished some very difficult feats. They scored 22 points in three consecutive games. Against Philadelphia, the Redskins racked up 203 yards of offense in the first half alone but entered the red zone just once. Against an Eagles offense that ran for 145 yards, middle linebacker Lemar Marshall, according to statistics compiled by the NFL, did not record a single tackle.

The Redskins have not forced a turnover on defense since Oct. 1, when defensive lineman Phillip Daniels intercepted a deflected pass from Jacksonville quarterback Byron Leftwich. The last interception from a defensive back came Sept. 24, by Kenny Wright in Houston.

But perhaps the most bizarre statistic is that former starting quarterback Mark Brunell has not thrown a touchdown pass in the third quarter this season. In fact, Brunell has gone 17 games since his last third-quarter touchdown pass, which came, incidentally, last Nov. 13 at Tampa Bay, when he hit Ladell Betts for a 17-yard touchdown in a wild 36-35 loss.

Patrick Ramsey's 72-yard pass to Santana Moss on Dec. 24 against the New York Giants was the last time the Redskins threw a touchdown pass in the third quarter.

The statistic is an especially important one considering so many games this season have turned starting in the second half. The Redskins have not scored a point in the third quarter since a Clinton Portis touchdown Oct. 1 against Jacksonville. They've scored 17 points in the third quarter all season.

McIntosh Waits

With change being the operative word around the Redskins these days, assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams was asked when rookie Rocky McIntosh would get his first start at weak-side linebacker.

"Rocky's improving," Williams said, adding that he has increased McIntosh's workload on special teams.

McIntosh, the Redskins' second-round draft pick, has been receiving most of his work in practice and in games on special teams. But he is still behind Warrick Holdman on the depth chart at weak-side linebacker in the Redskins' base 4-3, and hasn't played at all this season in that alignment.

Extra Points

A year ago, the Redskins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers played two games that appeared to sow the seeds of a rivalry. In the first, on Nov. 13, 2005, the Redskins lost 36-35 when Tampa fullback Mike Alstott powered a controversial two-point conversion into the end zone with 54 seconds remaining.

In the playoffs, the Redskins barely moved the ball but beat the Bucs in Tampa, 17-10, when Brunell threw for 41 yards, but Marcus Washington and LaVar Arrington both intercepted passes and Sean Taylor returned a fumble 51 yards for a touchdown.

"Last year both teams were, I won't say spectacular, but we were gritty teams that knew how to win football games. In all reality, those same types of games that we won last year and Washington won last year, we are finding ways to lose them," Tampa Bay cornerback Ronde Barber said. "That is really the difference. Neither team was really exciting last year in the way that we won football games, but we just won. I think it has come back to haunt us both."

This year, the Redskins are near the bottom in virtually every important defensive category and 2-7 Tampa Bay isn't far behind. The Redskins are 30th in total defense, while Tampa Bay is 26th. The Redskins are 32nd in sacks and interceptions, the Bucs are 31st and 30th, respectively.

"We are not getting a lot of pressure up front. Our blitz game, people are prepared for it. They are not letting us get to the quarterback like we have in the past years," Barber said. "It is unfortunate that is where we are this far into the season. It is not a lack of trying. We just have to get better at it if we expect to be as solid of a defense as we have been over the years." . . .

Practice was cut back yesterday because of the weather. . . .

Cornerback Shawn Springs (groin) did not practice for the second straight day.

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