Uncomfortably Numb

We're numb. The players are numb. The coaches are numb. And certainly the fans must be numb. How many times can the Redskins lose the same way? This time it was a field goal that barely inched over the crossbar, battling a fierce wind. For the record, that's seven losses by a touchdown or less.

Not again: Another running back cracked the 100-yard mark. Anthony Thomas rushed for 141 yards. Considering none of his runs went for more than 16 yards, that means it was a steady diet of good crunching runs. He's the seventh back to rush for more than 100 yards on this defense; three others have gained at least 90 yards.

Good day: Corner Fred Smoot was beaten on a couple occasions -- sometimes because the QB had way too much time to throw the ball -- but he made some very nice plays, again. Smoot has turned into a very solid No. 2 corner. Sunday, he made a terrific one-handed grab of a tipped pass for an interception. He later made a diving deflection.

Good recovery: Quarterback Tim Hasselbeck misfired on his first six passes, yet finished 16 of 25 for 209 yards and two touchdowns, for a 116.9 QB rating. Not bad for a guy who a week ago posted a 0.0 rating. He also should have been credited with a touchdown reception off a Rod Gardner pass.

Subtleties: The reason Chad Morton was so wide open on his touchdown catch? When Hasselbeck threw the lateral to Gardner, Morton blocked down on end Phillip Daniels, getting blocked from view by anyone else on the Bears' defense. As soon as the other defenders started running toward the ball, Morton took off down the field. It also helped that receiver Laveranues Coles made a good block on the play, giving Gardner a chance to throw unhurried.

Ugly number: The Redskins are now 4-18 under Steve Spurrier when they pass more than they run.

Pretty number: Receiver Laveranues Coles' 76 receptions is the most by a Redskins wideout since 1989. If he catches at least four passes Saturday, he'd become the first Washington receiver with at least 80 receptions since both Ricky Sanders and Art Monk in 1989. Monk led the Redskins with 86 catches while Sanders had 80 receptions.

Contributing: Cliff Russell hasn't done anything as a receiver, but he's starting to at least help. He made one good tackle on a punt return and he downed another punt at the 2-yard line. Before the season we were told he'd be someone who could help on special teams. That statement was true Sunday.

Nearing the end: Defensive coordinator George Edwards remains firmly on the hot seat -- there's no doubt the front office wants him gone. Very, very badly. His unit's performance Sunday certainly didn't help his cause. The Redskins' defense surrendered 429 yards to the NFL's worst-ranked offense. And Chicago rushed for 191 yards. The front office insists it has the talent to play much better and that Edwards, after all, has Marvin Lewis' playbook. Never mind that Lewis has it too -- and his Bengals entered Sunday with the NFL's 27th-ranked defense.

Funny thing is, the front office also has leaked word that Jessie Armstead and Jeremiah Trotter could be cut. If that's the case, it contradicts their claims about all this supposed talent. Look up front where not one player would start for a good line. One Bears scout said the line plays OK for a couple quarters then wears out because the players are too small.

And you want to know what's wrong with the Redskins' line? Bernard Holsey has started 15 games for them. Two years ago he was out of the league, 18 months ago he was playing in the Arena League and a year ago he appeared in only eight games with the Colts. Here, he's a fulltime starter. He's hustled and played hard, but he's very, very limited. Ideally, the Redskins would use him as a third or fourth tackle who could start for a couple games. Maybe.

Also nearing the end: Line coach Kim Helton is on an equal hot seat and we hear it's almost a foregone conclusion that he'll be ousted, too. There's no doubt Helton clashes with his linemen, but the problems on the offense do not start with the line. But if Helton is fired, the Redskins must bring in an experienced NFL coach.

But you have to wonder if Spurrier wants to surround himself with lots of experienced NFL coaches. He's not one for confrontation and having others who know the NFL game might lead to some.

Finally, a play: Darrell Russell recorded his third tackle of the season, dropping Anthony Thomas in the backfield for a five-yard loss. He also had one play a couple series earlier where he drove his guy deep into the backfield, forcing quarterback Rex Grossman to eventually be sacked. But here's the thing: Russell was only being blocked by one guy. He should have won that matchup. Until he starts drawing two guys, I don't know why anyone would count on him to be much of a factor.

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