By Mark Maske
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 12, 2007
The NFL released its regular season schedule yesterday and Washington Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs, as always, regarded the development as bad news. The Redskins will be tested by facing division opponents very early and very late, with their opener against the Miami Dolphins at FedEx Field being followed by games against two NFC East opponents, and their regular season concluding at home against the Dallas Cowboys.
"I always kind of start out saying, 'I never saw one I liked,' " Gibbs said at Redskins Park soon after the schedule was unveiled.
Gibbs took a break from the Redskins' day-long draft meetings to peruse a schedule that has the club opening Sept. 9. It will be the NFL head coaching debut of Cam Cameron, the onetime Redskins quarterbacks coach under Norv Turner who was hired by the Dolphins after Nick Saban left for the University of Alabama. Cameron most recently was the highly successful offensive coordinator of the San Diego Chargers.
The Redskins will be catching a team with its quarterback situation in flux. Daunte Culpepper continues to try to work his way back from knee troubles, and the Dolphins have been unable so far to complete a proposed trade with the Kansas City Chiefs for veteran Trent Green.
From there, the Redskins will jump into NFC East play, visiting the Philadelphia Eagles in a Monday night game on Sept. 17 at Lincoln Financial Field and hosting the New York Giants the following Sunday. The Monday night game in Philadelphia is one of three scheduled prime-time games for the Redskins. The other two are in December. They will play a Thursday night home game on the NFL Network against the Chicago Bears, the reigning NFC champions, on Dec. 6, followed by a Sunday night road game Dec. 16 against the Giants at Giants Stadium.
That Giants game could be moved out of prime time, however. Under the NFL's flexible scheduling format, NBC could move the Redskins-Giants game to Sunday afternoon and shift another game to the Sunday night time slot. That decision will depend on how the Redskins and Giants play. The plan is designed to give NBC attractive games in the late stages of the season.
The Redskins will play two of their final three regular season games against NFC East foes. The Giants game and the Dec. 30 finale against the Cowboys are sandwiched around a Dec. 23 game at Minnesota.
Gibbs said the two early division games caught his attention. He gave his players a relatively light training camp workload last summer, and that was followed by a winless preseason and a sluggish start to a 5-11 season. This time around, Gibbs is vowing to change everything. He is allowing players to have their offseason workouts away from Redskins Park if they choose, but he and his assistants are planning a more strenuous training camp that starts earlier, and Gibbs might push his players harder during the exhibition season.
"It will certainly be important for us to start a lot better than we did last year," Gibbs said yesterday. "We kind of got ourselves in a mess last year."
The Redskins must endure the misfortune of having their bye week after only three games. Gibbs said he would have preferred a bye closer to the middle of the season, but he wasn't complaining too loudly.
"I don't spend a lot of time worrying about it," he said. "Everybody has got a tough schedule up here. I'm sure everybody in the league is singing the blues right now."