If there is any consolation in a players strike for Washington Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs, it's that his team may have time to heal its injuries and he may have time to figure out what is wrong with his placement kicking game.
Calling the Redskins' 21-20 loss to Atlanta a "bitter disappointment," Gibbs said yesterday his team has "some major things" it must get settled if it were to play its third game Sunday afternoon.
First and foremost in his mind is the kicking game, which cost the Redskins a potential four points. Twice, bad snaps from Jeff Bostic ruined Ali Haji-Sheikh's field goal attempts at the end of the first half. Bostic snapped another ball on the ground on an extra-point try in the third quarter.
"In our kicking game, we'll definitely start to take a long hard look at field goals and extra points," Gibbs said after a short practice at Redskin Park. "We've had a lot of changes there and we'll analyze where we are. We've been through a lot. Traumatic things have been happening to us the last few years."
The Redskins certainly will focus on Bostic as they begin to review the bad snaps and blocking breakdowns that have plagued placement kicks in the preseason and the team's first two games of the regular season.
Gibbs would not say what his plans were, but, then again, there is no reason for him to say, even if he knows, because of the strike.
Gibbs defended his decision to punt on fourth down and one at the Washington 26 with five minutes to play and the Redskins down by one. He said he had confidence in his defense's ability to stop the Falcons and get the ball back.
Another factor, he said, was that his team had all three timeouts left.
"With five minutes to go, if I had chosen to go for it, it would have looked like I didn't have confidence in our defense," Gibbs said.
Atlanta running back Gerald Riggs has given the Redskins problems in the past, and Sunday was no different. He gained 120 yards on 23 carries, many of them right up the middle, where Kurt Gouveia was replacing middle linebacker Rich Milot (staph infection on right elbow), who was replacing Neal Olkewicz (right knee cartilage damage).
"Anytime we don't stop the run, we're in big trouble," Gibbs said.
The Redskins secondary also was beaten time and again, although cornerback Barry Wilburn did have his second interception in as many games.
Falcons quarterback Scott Campbell, who threw for 271 yards, picked on Pro Bowl starting cornerback Darrell Green at least half a dozen times, a strategy the Redskins didn't expect.
Then again, quite a few things the Redskins didn't expect happened the first two weeks of the season. The injuries, for one.
"The team is beat up," Gibbs said. "We're playing without our two tackles, our middle linebacker . . . "
Injured players like quarterback Jay Schroeder, tight end Clint Didier and tackle Mark May are expected to be healthy in a couple weeks. Tackle Joe Jacoby, who strained his back Sunday, isn't expected to be out long.
Defensive tackle Darryl Grant, who has a pulled right calf muscle, should be able to play -- and even snap, if that's Gibbs' decision -- soon, too.
But, for the time being, the players have other duties -- on a picket line.