For the second straight week, the Washington Redskins have discovered all too painfully that their hopes for improved depth this season may have been misplaced.
The regulars outscored the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 13-0, tonight. But the reserves were overwhelmed in the second half, 28-0, in an exhibition-game loss that certainly will result in some reevaluation of players by the coaches.
This defeat differed from last week's 24-7 loss to Miami in that the Redskins didn't committ as many mistakes and their starters dominated the first half, instead of just in the first quarter.
But in other ways, it was very similiar.
Quarterback Tom Flick, despite playing behind the starting offensive line, again struggled the last 30 minutes. His performance could force the Redskins to pick up a veteran quarterback for insurance, in case Joe Theismann is injured.
The second-unit defense proved susceptible both to outside runs and to passes of any kind. Cornerback Vernon Dean, No. 2 draft choice from San Diego State, had an especially difficult game. He was beaten on two touchdown passes and a handful of other completions.
The second-half statistics accentuated the Redskins' demise. Tampa Bay led in yards, 298 to 89, and first downs, 17 to 3. By the time Washington got its first first down of that half, with eight minutes left in the game, the Buccaneers had gained 275 yards, the Redskins 33.
To make matters worse for Coach Joe Gibbs, most of Tampa Bay's damage was engineered by Jerry Golsteyn, a journeyman player who spent last season quarterbacking Orlando in the semipro American Football Association.
In this game, Golsteyn resembled an all-pro, not a has-been. The first three times the Buccaneers had the ball in the second half, Golsteyn threw touchdown passes, twice picking on the confused Dean. By the time he left in the fourth period, Golsteyn had completed eight of 10 passes for 145 yards.
"We just got whipped up on by a real good team," Gibbs said. "They pounded it down our throats."
But wasn't most of Golsteyn's work, he was asked, against reserves?
"Those guys are guys we are counting on to play with this season," Gibbs said. "We had mistakes, but it was not mistakes that beat us. It was those 80-yard drives that they pounded down our throats."
Gibbs admitted his team couldn't continue making more than one or two errors and expect to win. Tonight, the Redskins threw two interceptions -- one by Theismann, one by Flick -- and lost two fumbles, both by Wilbur Jackson. Entering training camp, one of Gibbs' goals had been to reduce Jackson's fumbling.
"Somebody has to do some real searching if it (the fumbling) happens to them," Gibbs said. "We aren't good enough to overcome fumbles. We can't turn it over more than once or twice and win. That's our limit."
The Redskins' regulars were impressive during their 30 minutes of play. A much-improved defense shut down Tampa Bay quarterback Doug Williams, limiting him to 35 yards passing. And, despite a so-so passing night by Theismann, the offense rolled up 171 yards, 108 on the ground. John Riggins had 51 yards rushing and Joe Washington 30.
The defense, which had one sack against Miami, had three tonight and consistently put much more pressure on the passer, a result of a new long-yardage alignment. On passing situations, the Redskins switched to a three-man line, with Darryl Grant at nose guard and Mike Clark and Dexter Manley at the ends. They had five defensive backs and three linebackers, with rookie Larry Kubin blitzing on every play.
The Buccaneers had problems against this formation. Late in the first quarter, Manley swung behind Williams and knocked away the ball, which bounded to Grant. The lineman ran 17 yards to the Tampa Bay 22 before being tackled.
After Joe Washington gained 19 yards on four straight carries, Theismann rolled to his right and passed the ball over two fast-closing Buccaneers. The pass was caught by Riggins for a touchdown. Mark Moseley made the extra point for a 7-0 lead.
Earlier, Theismann had overthrown two wide-open receivers, Virgil Seay and Art Monk, on passes that could have been touchdowns.
The Redskins made it 10-0 mainly on the fine running of Riggins, who was aided considerably by powerful blocking from the offensive line. Riggins had gains of 5, 11, 9 and 6 yards before Moseley kicked a 39-yard field goal.
Later, four completions by Theismann, including a 22-yarder to Alvin Garrett at the Tampa Bay 17, set up a 34-yard field goal by rookie Dan Miller.
Theismann was nine of 16 for 73 yards. His interception came when he tried to pass to tight end Rich Caster despite tight coverage.
"Every time we've played the Bucs, they give you the opportunity to lose the ball inside the 20," Theismann said. "But, physically, we were in a lot better shape than we were in Miami. When we got to the second half in that game, everybody's legs were shot."
One leg that wasn't tired tonight belonged to rookie punter Jeff Hayes, who took a major step toward beating out Mike Connell. Hayes got off punts covering 57 and 52 yards and averaged 47.3 on his three. He also put two kickoffs into the end zone, neither of which was returned. Connell averaged 40.7 yards on three punts, his longest 46.
All of the Redskins' first-half work was quickly nullified by Golsteyn's second-half passing.
The Buccaneers took the third-quarter kickoff and drove 80 yards for a touchdown, which came on a 24-yard pass to Gordon Jones, who had beaten cornerback LeCharls McDaniel.
On Tampa Bay's next possession, Dean was outmaneuvered twice for completions, then was called for illegal contact downfield, the penalty wiping out Kubin's sack. Dean's troubles continued when Jones ran a down-and-out pattern in front of him and caught a 12-yard touchdown pass.
Washington's defense needed a rest badly, but Jackson fumbled after catching a screen pass, with Tampa Bay recovering on the Washington 30. Three plays later, tight end Jerry Bell broke open over the middle with no Redskin close. Bell finished off the 24-yard scoring play by diving over from the two, and the score was 21-13.
Still the Redskins' defense got no rest. Jackson immediately fumbled again. The Buccaneers took over on the Redskins' 33, but Bill Capace missed a 34-yard field goal.
That didn't deter the Buccaneers. After yet another Washington punt, rookie quarterback Mike Ford moved them 72 yards on eight plays, the last his two-yard touchdown run around right end. Dean had an interception taken away in that possession when Tony Peters was called for interference. On the next play, Dean gave up a 19-yard completion and temporarily was taken out.
The Redskins finally got a first down when reserve fullback Otis Wonsley went up the middle for two yards after catching a nine-yard pass from Flick, who completed seven of 11 for 63 yards.
"Tom had a tough time, a very tough time," said Gibbs, who came into this game determined to play Flick, the second-year pro from the University of Washington, as much as possible.
Redskin injury report: Defensive back Ken Coffey (intestinal disorder) stayed here overnight for observation; halfback Nick Giaquinto and Clark (ankle sprains); fullback Rickey Claitt (knee sprain); Garrett (arm bruise) and Manley (hip bruise).