A Record-Breaking Season, at Bottom

By Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 27, 2006

With one game left in their season and another offseason of scrutiny ahead, the Washington Redskins hope to avoid setting several records Saturday against the New York Giants. The Redskins, 5-10 and without consecutive victories since Oct. 1, are on the verge of setting franchise and league marks -- for all of the wrong things.

A loss would put the Redskins at 5-11, matching their lowest win total in any season since 1994, and would be the worst season of Coach Joe Gibbs's career (he won six games in 2004, his first year back with Washington). Gibbs already is assured of having more losing seasons (two) in his return than he had in his first stint, from 1981 to '92. With a loss Saturday, the Redskins would finish 1-5 against the NFC East for the second time in three years; the team has not finished that low in such a short period since placing last in 1993-94.

"We don't want New York to sweep us," Gibbs said. "That's a big deal for us. We want to finish the right way."

Gibbs is 21-26 in the regular season since his return; Washington's record over the previous three seasons was 20-28.

Washington has just 12 take-aways this season, and will need to force three turnovers Saturday just to tie the all-time low for a 16-game season. St. Louis and Green Bay each caused 15 take-aways in the 2004 season; the Redskins have just six in the last 10 games.

"That kind of blows my mind, how we wound up in that situation," Gibbs said of the take-away drought. "We start the game off two of the last three weeks, first play of the game we've got the ball in our hands. How [could you] wind up doing that? I think it's kind of got us all baffled. I don't think there's an answer to that."

The team has just 18 sacks for the season and will need a huge reversal not to set a franchise low in that department (the 2001 Redskins had 25 sacks). The Redskins also have six interceptions as a team; the franchise low is 11 (set in 1982, when teams played just nine games). Those six interceptions have been returned for 25 yards; the franchise low for interception return yardage is 85, also set in the strike-shortened 1982 season.

The team record for most yards allowed in a season is 5,723, set in 1996. They enter this game having allowed 5,333 yards, including 579 on Sunday in St. Louis. They are allowing an average of 356 yards per game, and New York produced 411 yards of offense in the clubs' first meeting this season.

Overall, the defense ranks 30th in yards allowed per game, 32nd in yards allowed per pass, 22nd in rushing defense, 29th in passing defense, 32nd in interceptions per pass play and 32nd in sacks per pass play. It is tied for 24th in points allowed and has a scoring differential of minus-63, also 24th in the league. Opposing quarterbacks have thrown 29 touchdown passes against Washington and just six interceptions -- the worst ratio in the NFL -- and have a 99.4 passer rating, a mark that also puts the Redskins last in the league.

"Certainly, it's been disappointing for us," Gibbs said. "I wouldn't imagine we'd go through something like this."

Offensively, the Redskins have their troubles as well. The running game is reborn, and tailback Ladell Betts tied a franchise mark with five straight 100-yard games, but the team has struggled to score. They have just 28 offensive touchdowns through 15 games, putting them in the lowest third in the NFL, and have scored more than two touchdowns in a game just three times.

The team remains devoid of an impact secondary receiver, with big offseason acquisitions Brandon Lloyd and Antwaan Randle El both held without a catch in Sunday's 37-31 overtime loss. Even combining their season statistics would fail to equate to a decent season for most No. 2 wide receivers: Lloyd has 23 catches for 365 yards and no touchdowns, and Randle El has 29 receptions for 298 yards and three touchdowns.

Redskins Notes: Gibbs said the Redskins expect to lose their third-round pick in the 2007 draft in the three-team deal to acquire tailback T.J. Duckett in August. That would leave the Redskins with just first-, fifth-, sixth- and seventh-round picks. The Redskins could lose their 2008 fourth-round pick in that deal, which will not be set until the final draft order is complete. That will occur when the NFL finalizes its draft value chart. . . . Cornerback Shawn Springs (broken scapula) will be placed on injured reserve today, with a replacement likely signed from the practice squad.

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