Today, the Washington Redskins found out that Tony Zendejas kicks like he talks.
With veteran Mark Moseley on the sideline nursing a sore leg and signing autographs, Zendejas made all six of the field goals he attempted -- including a 51-yarder -- to salvage an otherwise disappointing day for the Redskins in a controlled scrimmage with the New York Jets before an estimated 4,500 at Lafayette College.
The Jets won, 30-25, on Bob Avellini's two touchdown passes on their final, 12-play possession. Avellini, the former Maryland quarterback who played for Chicago last year and who is listed No. 3 on the Jets' depth chart behind Ken O'Brien and Pat Ryan, threw touchdown passes of 26 yards to Bill Griggs and 28 yards to Bill Wallace for the victory.
Last year, the Redskins won this scrimmage, 45-10. The 40-point swing left Coach Joe Gibbs shaking his head as he walked off tree-lined Fisher Field this afternoon.
"I'm sure there will be a lot of things we'll be disappointed in when we look at the films (Sunday afternoon)," Gibbs said. "I'm not happy with either side (offense or defense). We have a long ways to go and a lot of work to do."
If every game could be won on field goals, Gibbs would feel differently. Zendejas, Moseley's supremely confident challenger, set what might well be an unofficial Redskins record.
Four times, a Redskins kicker has made five field goals in a regular-season game. Although no records are kept for scrimmages, it's doubtful anyone has kicked six before.
"I knew sooner or later it would come," said Zendejas, who was outkicked slightly by Moseley in their two practice battles this week. "I was tense, I guess because there was a lot of attention on me. Now, I'm starting to get more relaxed."
For the record, Zendejas had never kicked six in one game. "Not even in high school," he said.
"This is going to help me, confidence-wise and also being accepted by the team," he added. "Here I am trying to take the job of a veteran and everyone wonders if I can do it. Well, I'm showing I can kick, too, and maybe they'll accept me."
After his first field goal of 34 yards, only a few rookies congratulated him on the sideline. Moseley sat on the far end of the bench, motionless.
But his next kick was the 51-yarder, strong and straight and sure, and he was fairly mobbed. Holder Joe Theismann was the first; Moseley might have been the last.
"He came up to me later and said, 'Good kick on that 51-yarder,' " said Zendejas, who has received a $150,000 signing bonus from the Redskins. Moseley, a 14-year veteran, has received no guaranteed money.
Moseley, who said his leg usually gets sore early in training camp, had no comment on Zendejas' day, which also included field goals of 33, 41, 27 and 39 yards. Moseley is expected to be back kicking Monday as usual.
The unfortunate story for the Redskins was that Zendejas thrived on the offense's futility. When overthrown or dropped passes, or poorly-run pass routes, forced a fourth down, Zendejas was the sole beneficiary. And this came against a Jets defense playing the 3-4 alignment for the first time.
Oh, there were signs of a team reaching its familiar form: Theismann completing passes to wide receiver Art Monk three times in the Redskins' first possession for a total of 51 yards, leading to the first field goal.
Or strong safety Tony Peters, playing second team behind Ken Coffey, coming up twice in a row to meet running back Dennis Bligen, once to stop him with a five-yard gain, the next time for a one-yard loss.
But there seemed to be many more times when quarterbacks Jay Schroeder or Babe Laufenberg didn't connect with receivers at key moments, either through their fault or the receivers'.
Theismann was six for eight for 65 yards and didn't play after the first possession. Schroeder was eight for 16 for a team-high 82 yards and the Redskins' only touchdown, a 13-yard pass to rookie Joe Phillips. Laufenberg was six for 13 for 41 yards.
The running game was nothing to write John Riggins about. Rookie Vincent Hall, who scored two touchdowns last week in a scrimmage at New England, had the longest gain of the day with a darting 29-yard run, but also fumbled inside the New York 10 to kill a drive.
"Vince Hall has proven he can run and he's proven today that he can fumble," Gibbs said. " . . . Our young guys have been fumbling, and as long as they fumble, the odds go way down of their making it in this league."
Only one other Redskins running back gained more than 10 yards. It was none other than George Rogers, who carried four times for 13 yards. The Redskins apparently are allowing Rogers to move slowly as they wait to see what holdout Riggins decides to do.
Today, owner Jack Kent Cooke said, "Unless we come to terms soon, my patience may wear thin."
The Redskins offered Riggins a contract believed to be worth close to $1 million for this season, but he turned it down, sources said. He reportedly wants about $1.5 million to play this year.