Analyze That: Dallas 21 Redskins 14

There's bad karma surrounding this franchise, which is turning into a national joke, helped by a 21-14 loss to Dallas in which the Redskins once again looked unprepared to win an NFL game. Things appear to be in disarray, players now are privately saying the coach has lost the team and others are tired of the constant zoo that is Redskins Park. We used to think winning cured everything, but in this case we're no longer sure. The problems start at the top, but they don't end there.

Slipping away: An air of resignation hung over the Redskins' players, who perhaps see that they're headed nowhere this season. And now there's talk that coach Steve Spurrier has lost the players. One veteran told us that this happened a couple weeks ago and it was due mostly to the idle threats that Spurrier makes almost every week. At some point if you're going to threaten to bench someone for making silly mistakes, then do it. Or stop saying it. They also didn't like that, in his talk to the team Saturday morning, he brought up the benchings again. They'd rather have heard a more positive message the day before a game. But if Spurrier has lost the team, it's also due to the circus atmosphere created by the owner. Trust us on his: the players are tired of it. More change is coming and that has them more than a bit frustrated.

Show of support: It's hard to know what to believe when it comes to the supposed rift between offensive line coach Kim Helton and head coach Steve Spurrier. The Ball Coach said he wasn't going to fire him and Helton said he would ``die standing up before he'd quit'' debunking a report on ESPN.com. The story said Spurrier told Helton he'd fire him, but Helton said he was going to quit instead. Then owner Dan Snyder, according to the story, stepped in and calmed the situation.

After Sunday's loss, Helton and Spurrier engaged in a seemingly heart-to-heart talk at their lockers. Later, Helton warmly greeted Spurrier's wife, Jerri, outside the locker room.

Here's the thing: Spurrier knew that the leak came from within the organization. And there's little doubt in the minds of the coaches who often spreads these rumors (hint: his first name starts with a V). Whether that's true or not, who really knows. But that's the perception. And it makes you wonder: why would someone want to leak this story? Unless it's designed to make the owner look good (as mediator) and Spurrier look bad (out of control). Until there's a strong front office, which is seen as an employee of Snyder's and not a friend, then this stuff will continue. Jack Kent Cooke was no saint, but he hired employees he could trust and who didn't stab one another in the back.

Swing and a miss: The Redskins need to teach their backs better how to pick up the blitz. Because they're horrible at this. Ironically, the best back at picking up the blitz before this season had been Kenny Watson. He'd look pretty good right about now.

Blitzing woes: Dallas crushed the Redskins' offense by blitzing on seemingly every play. The Redskins will continue to be damaged by this until: Ramsey learns to unload the ball quicker; the receivers run shorter, quicker routes and the backs pick it up. None of that is happening right now. If Laveranues Coles is that good, and we think he is, then send him on a quick slant when a blitz is coming and make a team pay for their aggressiveness. Other teams do just that: have you seen any blitzes work by Washington lately?

Growing pains: Ramsey is a second-year quarterback who has now played the equivalent of one season. He's a work in progress and it shows. He's tough as anyone and he's smart, but he's also not helping himself by holding onto the ball too long. Ramsey also needs to quit audibilizing with less than seven or eight seconds left on the play clock. It only leads to trouble. The first time he tried to do this Sunday the Redskins were called for a delay of game. Then he did the same thing one play later, resulting in a hurried snap, a hurried throw and an incompletion.

What's happened to: left tackle Chris Samuels. The two-time Pro Bowler is far from his usual steady self and he struggled again Sunday. We've heard that Samuels benefitted greatly his first two seasons by playing alongside veteran guards such as Keith Sims and Dave Szott, who held his hand, so to speak. They helped keep his confidence up and aided in his assignments.

Good day: Punter Bryan Barker has punted well the past few games. Sunday, he averaged ---- on eight punts. . . . Running back Chad Morton gained 37 yards on his first six carries, until leaving with a high ankle sprain. . . . Corner Champ Bailey did a good job on Joey Galloway, who was rarely a target. Bailey was beaten once deep, but the ball was overthrown. . . . Give Fred Smoot credit for playing despite his chest injury. Smoot was in clear pain after the game, as well as during it, but he played as long as he could.

Learning: Corner Ade Jimoh did not bite on a double move while subbing for Smoot, forcing quarterback Quincy Carter to throw elsewhere. Jimoh has struggled with those moves.

Correct, but rare: Linebacker Antonio Pierce certainly did appear to be trying to draw Dallas offsides on a 22-yard field goal attempt in the second quarter. The officials flagged him for unsportsmanlike conduct, giving Dallas a first down which led to a touchdown two plays later. Pierce claimed he was trying to tell his guys to stay onsides, but replays showed his head bobbing as if he was barking out signals. And we've heard that TV replays could pick up his voice calling out the signals. If that's the case, what good would it have done to get Dallas to jump? But we also know this happens probably on every field goal and is almost never called.

Suckered: Safety Ifeanyi Ohalete had outside contain on the 47-yard end around by receiver Terry Glenn in the fourth quarter, allowing Dallas to kill the clock.

Benched: End Bruce Smith did not start for the first time in his Redskins' tenure, a move decided upon by Spurrier. It did not sit well with Smith. But, frankly, who cares? Smith hasn't generated much pressure all season and he needs to play less so he can stay fresher. He's also a liability against the run. Problem is, the whole front four stinks. I can't think of one guy up front (save for Darrell Russell, but he's not a factor yet) who would start on a good team.


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