Even in the midst of the celebration following the Redskins' final game of the season today, Coach Joe Gibbs still was emphasizing how his team "is missing a lot of things, a bunch of parts."
And, for the first time, Gibbs talked about what those parts are and how he hopes to fix them before the start of next season.
"Our proudest accomplishment has been the way the offensive line was reworked this season," Gibbs said. "We had four new starters in the offensive line, but we still wound up moving the ball pretty good all season. Now I'd like to do the same thing with the defensive line."
Finding help for that defensive line, which has had problems all season rushing the passer and stopping the run, is his No. 1 priority, Gibbs said.
"We've got to shore up the line, that's how we want to use our draft," he said. "We've got good cornerbacks, but we still need help there. And we want to get some receivers on offense.
"We have a long way to go, even though we won eight of our last 11 games. That doesn't overshadow our weaknesses. We made progress, but we have to get better to stay competitive. The players know what our problems are and that we have to fix them up. We'll get those holes filled."
Someone asked Gibbs what he would like for Christmas, since his team played so well the last 11 weeks. Again, his thoughts immediately focused on next season.
"A No. 1 draft choice," he said. "But that's going to be awfully hard to get, even for Santa Claus."
Ironically, the team the Redskins handled so well today, the Los Angeles Rams, have the Redskins' No. 1 choice following a trade during the draft last April. By winning, Washington hardly helped the Rams' draft position with that pick.
The Rams played like a team in turmoil. This is the first time since 1972 that they won't be in the playoffs. Their coach, Ray Malavasi, may be fired. They are plagued by an ongoing quarterback problem that became even worse today with the performance of starter Dan Pastorini.
Pastorini was so bad and was booed so loudly by Ram fans that Malavasi finally pulled him late in the third quarter. Taking his place was rookie Jeff Kemp, a free agent from Dartmouth, the son of New York Republican Rep. Jack Kemp and former quarterback for Churchill High School in Potomac.
Kemp, making his first National Football League appearance, quickly found out Dartmouth was never like this. He was sacked by defensive tackle Perry Brooks on his first play and intercepted on the third by Joe Lavender after passing under heavy pressure out of the end zone. Things didn't get better for him after that.
"I wasn't going to sacrifice the game to find out what Kemp was going to do in 20 minutes," Malavasi said. "If an experienced guy is having problems, what is a rookie going to do?"
Kemp said he felt so badly for Pastorini that he was almost reluctant to go in.
"I wanted to see Dan get a good shot (completion)," Kemp said. "I felt he deserved to get to play.
"I think I can play football in this league. But I know I still have a lot to learn. I was just trying to be calm out there and get some experience."
Of course, Kemp (two of six, 25 yards) was throwing into a Redskin secondary that has improved considerably the last month, ever since its nickel defense personnel all became healthy.
"With the same people out there every week, we can do more things and make more plays," defensive coordinator Richie Petitbon said. "I didn't want to make excuses earlier about the injuries, but they hurt. Now we don't have to shuffle anyone around as much."
Said safety Mark Murphy: "We mixed our coverages a lot against Pastorini. I thought it confused him. But I don't think he is comfortable with their system yet. Even early in the game he had time, but he would wait and wait and still not pass the ball on target.
"After that, you could kind of see them get discouraged. They aren't used to losing this much."
"This year has been very disappointing and unusual for me," he said. "But I'm looking forward to coming back next year. I don't intend to lose anymore. This will be the last loss I'll have."