Skins fall to Chiefs

The special teams suffered another breakdown. The offense generated zilch. And the defense allowed chunks of yardage and surrendered the big play. The Redskins simply looked disorganized and undisciplined.

Most surprisingly: this wasn't a Norv Turner re-run. It just looked that way.

This also most certainly wasn't how Marty Schottenheimer had hoped to debut as Washington's coach. But, in the preseason opener, the Redskins stunk in all three phases, losing at Kansas City, 20-0. It also served as an unpleasant homecoming for Schottenheimer, who resigned as the Chiefs' coach in 1998 following 10 seasons.

The Redskins left the game with more questions than answers. Their safety play was bad, their guards offered no protection and provided few holes and their backup quarterbacks struggled. They looked every bit the young quarterbacks they are, and not a tandem that could help in the regular season.

''We can look at a lot of different things but the bottom line is, we have to perform better,'' Schottenheimer said ''There's a lot of work, obviously, that needs to get done.''

Then he did something Turner never did: he blamed himself, at least in part.

''You need to be able to be competitive," he said. "We, frankly, were not competitive tonight. I didn't do a very good job tonight. . . .I'm not going to change, whether we win or lose. It's my job to make sure we keep an even keel, whether we win or lose.''

The positives likely could be boiled down to one sentence: no starter was seriously hurt. Of course, several starters already were sidelined. Other than that, the game film will serve as a lowlight film. The Redskins also hope it doesn't serve as a foreshadowing.

Actually, one key player stood out: corner Fred Smoot, the rookie second-round pick. Smoot knocked away four passes and, on each one, he had perfect position, just inside of the receiver. He made it impossible to catch the balls, which is exactly what he's supposed to do.

Everywhere else Washington struggled. The Redskins managed just seven first downs and 99 total yards, including two first downs and 32 yards in the first half. The Chiefs, meanwhile, piled up 22 first downs and 429 total yards.

Washington's young backup quarterbacks made a weak case against signing a veteran quarterback. Todd Husak, starting for injured Jeff George, completed just three of 10 passes for 27 yards and one interception. Not that he always had time to throw, getting sacked twice--one of which he failed to read the blitzer. But he also missed open receivers that would have resulted in first downs.

''I missed a few throws," said Husak, who, during warmups, aggravated an injury to his oblique muscle. ''I had one bad read. Part of that was not being on the same page with the receivers. We had our opportunities. We just didn't connect on them.''

Rookie Sage Rosenfels, who played nearly the entire second half, wasn't any better. He completed seven of 17 passes for 41 yards. But he did have one nice play, a 28-yard toss, with a defender in his face, to rookie Darnerien McCants at the 4-yard line. Alas, the drive ended at the 2.

Rosenfels consistently threw off his back foot and appeared to feel the pressure, natural for a rookie. He wasn't alone in feeling the heat.

On Washington's first drive, the offensive line played horribly. Right guard Mookie Moore struggled against tackle John Browning, leading to pressure and a bad throw by Husak. Two plays later, after a 14-yard completion to Kevin Lockett, left guard Matt Campbell was beaten by his man leading to a three-yard loss by Stephen Davis. Two plays later left tackle Chris Samuels allowed a sack. Not to be outdone, on the next series right tackle Jon Jansen was flagged for a false start.

And so the evening went.

Moore played most of the game at right guard and had some nice blocks. But he also missed a block on a screen, negating a potential solid gain. Mostly, though, the middle of the line created few holes. Backup Derrick Fletcher, battling Campbell, whiffed on several blocks.

On the other side, tackle Kenard Lang, making the fulltime switch from end, batted down one pass. He made one nice play when he could use his quickness, sliding to his left along the line of scrimmage. But, when forced to use power, he failed against much larger men.

Second-year end Derrick Ham, starting for Bruce Smith, offered nothing.

Dick Vermeil's debut in Kansas City went much better. The Chiefs went on a nearly seven-minute drive in the first quarter that resulted in a 23-yard Todd Peterson field goal and 3-0 lead.

The bad parts for Washington included weak play by safety David Terrell, whose play in the first two or three preseason games will determine if the Redskins pursue a veteran free safety. If this game was any indication, they will. Terrell missed three tackles, partly because he often appeared out of position against the run.

The Redskins' line didn't help much. Tackles Dan Wilkinson and Kenard Lang were easily blocked most of the first quarter and the linebackers offered little support against the run. Tackle Del Cowsette had the only nice play on this series, knifing through the middle and dropping running back Tony Richardson for a one-yard loss.

Corner Donovan Greer, fighting for the starting job with Darrell Green, hardly made a strong case. On Kansas City's next possession, he was beaten down the left seam for a 29-yard Trent Green to Derrick Mayes touchdown pass and 10-0 first-quarter lead.

Then came the annual special teams fiasco. After harping on special teams throughout the first two weeks of camp--it was the only aspect practiced in a heat-shortened one-hour workout three days before this game--this unit allowed a huge play.

Redskins punter Bryan Barker's 57-yard punt drove returner Dante Hall to his own 8. Linebacker Anthony Sessions overshot him, creating a seam up the middle. Lloyd Harrison, who otherwise had a good night, missed a tackle and that was it. Hall scooted down the right side for a 92-yard score, eluding Justin Skaggs' last-ditch dive at his feet.

The Chiefs made it 20-0 on their final first-half possession, after another three-and-out by Washington. Kansas City's second offense, against Washington's second string, marched from its own 25 to the Redskins' 4 where Lawrence Tynes booted a 22-yard field goal.

Washington threatened on only one possession. But the Redskins couldn't score after reaching the Chiefs' 5. Running back Stanley Stephens was stopped for no gain on first down. Then Rosenfels lost one yard on a pass to fullback Bryan Johnson. Skaggs gained three yards on a pass over the middle, in traffic.

But, on fourth down, Rosenfels slid to his left, avoiding moderate pressure, and threw incomplete. No one was open.

Another rookie, receiver Rod Gardner, did not catch a pass. On one interception, he actually failed to even fight the defender for the ball.


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