The Washington Redskins started preparing for Saturday's first-round NFC playoff game against Detroit yesterday by studying footage of all that went wrong in their 33-17 loss to the Lions on Dec. 5.
Michael Westbrook came away convinced he and the other wide receivers must block better. Right tackle Jon Jansen came away convinced he's got to do everything better against Pro Bowl defensive end Robert Porcher. Coach Norv Turner came away convinced the Redskins must run the ball better. And no one needed reminding that turnovers and penalties proved the Redskins' undoing.
"Not by any stretch of the imagination do I want to take anything away from Detroit," said wide receiver Irving Fryar, "because they kicked our butts. But we made a lot of mistakes offensively. That was one of our worst games this season."
The Redskins were assessed 14 penalties for 122 yards. Five were for offensive holding; four were for false starts. Eleven players were involved, including four offensive linemen (all but left tackle Andy Heck). While the din in the Pontiac Silverdome drowned out Brad Johnson's snap count, Jansen said that didn't account for all the gaffes nor explain why Porcher was so difficult to block.
"I don't want to take anything away from what he did because he beat me a couple of times and it had nothing to do with noise," Jansen said. "That day he just got the best of me. That was five or six weeks ago; hopefully I've learned since then. I'll take a look at that game, review it, see the mistakes I made and try not to make those again."
Fryar and return specialist Brian Mitchell are among the few Redskins with playoff experience.
As such, they're making a point this week of stressing to their younger teammates what's at stake.
"A lot of time you get guys coming out of college who don't understand how the level is going to pick up," Mitchell said. It came as a shock to him when the Redskins went to the Super Bowl his second season. Few knew it at the time, but quarterback Mark Rypien sprained his ankle during practice that week, Mitchell recalled.
"We were going that hard," he said, "and it's going to pick up."
Fryar, 37, has played on five playoff teams, but said the significance escaped him as a younger player.
"Back then I was stupid and I didn't realize it," Fryar said. "That's one of the reasons I say what I say to the younger guys, to try to get them to see what I see now . . . and how it felt when I've wasted opportunities."
T. Johnson Slowed
Right guard Tre Johnson may be limited in practice Wednesday after straining his left quadriceps Sunday. Turner said he was confident Johnson would be fine by late in the week. "It's sore, but not enough to keep me out of the game," Johnson said. . . . The Redskins finished the season with the NFC's best turnover differential (plus 12), with 37 takeaways and 25 giveaways. That tied them with Jacksonville for fourth in the NFL. Kansas City led all teams, at plus 21. . . . Westbrook and Albert Connell finished the season tied as the NFL's leaders in terms of yardage per reception, each gaining 18.3 yards per catch. Westbrook totaled 1,191 yards on 65 catches, including nine touchdowns. Connell added 1,132 yards on 62 catches, with seven touchdowns.