What now?

Buffalo 24, Redskins 7 10-19-03

The five W's

Who is looking smarter now—those who thought that the Redskins' 3-1 start was an illusion or other analysts (like this one) who thought that this edition of the team was markedly better than last year's and a legitimate playoff threat? Obviously, it's the former group. The stupid penalties, the sloppy play, the poor tackling, the lack of consistency, the inability to put two good halves of football together and the like are not just a consequence of the team needing to gel, they are a consequence of having an undisciplined team. The view here is that discipline is overrated when it comes to winning football games. If it truly was a huge factor, Army, Navy, and Air Force would be in BCS games every year. The Redskins, though, are carrying undisciplined play to an extreme and it's costing them severely.

What do the Redskins do during the bye week? Certainly, they will try to rest up and recuperate from the various nagging injuries and bruises accumulated over seven games. Perhaps the coaches will go back to the drawing board and find some pass protection schemes that will not present a clear and present danger to Patrick Ramsey's well being. While the sacks total was down today, the hit count on Ramsey was up in double digits. There might be some personnel changes in the offing as well. It's pretty certain that they won't do one thing--find a way to eliminate the dumb errors that have haunted them all year. They've been working on it from Day One at training camp. If the Redskins do end up winning some games, it's apparently going to have to be because they will have learned how to overcome their mistakes, not because they will have eliminated them.

When is Lavar Arrington going to stop committing foolish penalties? Today, another late hit, an offside thrown in for good measure. This is the third straight game he's been flagged for 15. He's the one constantly lecturing about the need to play smart, but he needs to take a good look in the mirror. It's hard to image the coaches benching him since he's so valuable to the defense, but it's also hard to imagine how this is going to stop without extreme measures being taken.

Where did Chad Morton go? He came in of offense at the start of the second half and sparked the drive to make it 10-7 in the third quarter. We didn't see him carrying the ball again until it was 24-7. True, you don't want him carrying 20 times, but the Buffalo defense seemed to have no answer for him. Rock Cartwright is a nice, spunky player but not the kind you want in during a comeback situation.

Why can't the Redskins cover that little bootleg pass? It worked again today, this time for a Drew Bledsoe touchdown to receiver Billy Shaw. That may have seemed like a twist since the Bucs had so much success with it to the tight end last week, but Shaw actually was lined up tight in the formation, so it qualifies as the same play. Obviously, somebody is not staying home to contain that. Overpursuit, another sign of a completely undisciplined football team.

The Trends

This result shouldn't have shocked to anyone, given the results of the games these two teams have played since the Redskins beat Buffalo 37-24 in Super Bowl XXVI. The Bills have won all four of those meetings and by a combined score of 120-47 (an average of 30-12).

In fact, the Redskins' defense against the rush was slightly better than it has been against the Bills lately. Buffalo amassed over 200 yards rushing in each of the teams' last two meetings, a mere 196 today.

The Redskins have a losing record after today's game, and that's become very familiar territory. In fact, since a December 10, 2000 loss to Dallas dropped them to 7-7, the Redskins have had a record of .500 or worse following 36 of the 42 games they've played in that time span.

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