Analyze This: Redskins vs. Bills

Buffalo 24, Washington 7<BR> Steve Spurrier questioned the effort. The players said it was there. All I know is that the Redskins looked horrible and it was a collective effort. But one play summed up the day: Bills running back Travis Henry's 14-yard touchdown run, the final score of the game. Not only did Henry break two tackles, but it appeared defensive tackle Lional Dalton clearly quit on the play.

Dalton was coming from the other side, but appeared to slow down as he neared Henry and certainly didn't give himself a chance to make a play. Maybe that's why Denver wanted him out of town.

Are you kidding me: The Washington Post says that Foge Fazio might now assist the defensive coaches. Fazio clearly understands defense and his no-nonsense approach would have helped, had he been hired for this role before the season. Fazio didn't exactly excel during his short stint as Cleveland's coordinator, though some have blamed that on head coach Butch Davis. The problem is, this once again looks like an organization out of control. And the last time they brougt in a guy to do this (Bill Arnsparger) it didn't have any impact. Want the truth about Arnsparger? Smart guy, once was great. But he routinely fell asleep during meetings and was no help.

What I've learned: In covering this team under owner Dan Snyder, once he starts meeting with coaches and thinking of the above moves, it's the beginning of the end. It serves to undermine the coach, the players smell blood and things unravel. This team will never be a consistent winner under this owner. And, if you think Steve Spurrier should go, remember this: He was the one coach Snyder wanted above all others. If that's the case, then back off. Spurrier is not a perfect NFL coach by any means and he has flaws. But if you can't give the guy you wanted more time, then why should anyone good ever want to work for you. Besides the money, of course.

The real problem: Linebacker LaVar Arrington symoblizes the Redskins. You look at him and think he should be a great player. Until you watch him play and see him make the same negative plays over and over again. One week after getting fooled by bootleg action, he got tricked early on by a similar play.Then, on the same play, he hit the ball carrier after he was nearly five yards out of bounds. This after a week in which he claimed he'd have more focus. Lots of flash, not enough substance. In his fourth year, Arrington should be further ahead. I can't imagine paying such an inconsistent player $11 million a season. Until he matures as a player the Redskins' defense will be what it is: good some plays, bad on others. Especially with no hint of a pass rush. If they had any rush they could live with his mistakes a little more. But when they need to be almost perfect to win, Arrington becomes a liability.

Bruuuuce: He didn't get any sacks, but Bruce Smith showed he still has a little left. Too bad he seemed to exhaust it in one series where he had several pressures. Problem is, Regan Upshaw didn't do anything when he was giving Smith a break. And Upshaw too often got slammed to the inside on some outside runs by the Bills.

Dockery struggles: Rookie guard Derrick Dockery continues to play poorly. And it makes me wonder: has any lineman improved under coach Kim Helton? The answer appears to be no. The players are confident Dockery will be good in time because they like his mental makeup. But he continues to make the same mistakes. He even knocked the ball loose from quarterback Patrick Ramsey at the goal-line (Dockery was pulling to his right and his right hand hit the ball). Alas, Ramsey already was stumbling back because center Larry Moore stepped on his foot. What a sad bunch.

Protection schemes: Until Steve Spurrier alters his pass plays, he can say all he wants about the players' effort and it won't matter. Tight ends consistently on defensive ends? Please. Especially when it's an out-of-shape newly-signed tight end. Ummm, what exactly do you think will happen there? Once, Byron Chamberlain blew the block on the end, who then crashed into Ramsey, who then injured his hand. On the play, left tackle Chris Samuels looked to block down first, found no one there and essentially blocked no one. Not sure why that was, or if the guard was supposed to pull on the play, but it looked bad.

T.O.: The Redskins denied the trade rumors about San Francisco receiver Terrell Owens (a second-round pick plus Rod Gardner for the wideout). They said the salary cap implications wouldn't have made it possible. But that doesn't mean they wouldn't have tried; they've ignored cap realities in other pursuits. And their operating mantra is this: Fire, aim, ready. Still, it wouldn't make sense to get Owens and then tie up so much cash at one position. Again, applying rational thought to this franchise is not always realistic.

The worst part: Dallas is winning. If the Cowboys, with seemingly less talent, weren't winning then maybe everyone isn't in a tizzy. After all, few in the media, including myself, pegged this team as anything better than 8-8.

Silver lining: Hey, the special teams looked good!


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