Reeling Redskins

No one should have expected a smooth ride. No one should have expected what's transpired, either. The Redskins should be better than 1-4 after Sunday night's 17-10 loss to Baltimore.

They're not ultra-talented, as some of us tried to warn. Then again, their defense is playing much better than most would have expected.

That's why this start is so maddening. Sad to say, but they look a lot like the Norv Turner teams, ones who would let one or two plays sway the momentum of the game. Maybe Joe Gibbs was right when he said at his first press conference that it wouldn't be easy. But for so many years it seemed like it was. Now we know better.

The big difference: Now it's time for some hindsight, though some of this was stated way back when. But no one wanted to listen. When Joe Gibbs took over the Redskins in 1981, he assumed control of a good organization, one that was one year removed from a 10-6 season and they'd had nine non-losing seasons in the previous 10. This time, he inherited the East Coast equivalent of the Cardinals. Gibbs left most of the football decisions to experts; now he's the only expert in the building. Until the Redskins hire a legitimate GM, the franchise can only go so far.

It's time to: See if Patrick Ramsey can ignite the offense. Not everything is Mark Brunell's fault -- the line rarely gives him a nice pocket to throw from, providing few lanes. At times he can't step into his throws. The running game, thanks to few holes, hasn't helped, either. And Brunell is still not clicking with his receivers, perhaps because he's not yet comfortable in the offense. We certainly know Ramsey wasn't comfy this summer and he probably isn't now. Though he made bad decisions against the Giants, he also made throws that this offense needs to be effective, the post routes. At 1-4, the Redskins are three straight wins from playing for anything this year. Short of that, it's time, once again, to prepare for the future.

Poor attempt: Running back Ladell Betts whiffed badly on safety Ed Reed's blitz, which resulted in a fumble, a touchdown and a turning point. He wasn't good at picking up the blitz last season, either. Granted, Reed is fast but Betts' job is to stop him. He failed.

Big hitter: Safety Ryan Clark had a strong night, particularly in run defense. No Redskins safety comes up and hits harder than Clark, who is not a big guy like rookie Sean Taylor. But Clark is aggressive and when he spots the run, he gets there. Fast. He's nice to have as a backup.

Nice to see: Tackle Jon Jansen walking without a crutch or a boot on his foot. He watches games from a booth right next to the press box. He's progressing nicely, but is having a hard time watching what's happening.

Offensive goat: Quarterback Mark Brunell. It's not all his fault. But he looks too choppy in the pocket and his weaknesses are exposed because they need him to win games. It's too bad he and Ramsey couldn't merge into one, getting Brunell's savvy and Ramsey's arm.

Defensive goat: No one. Not when you only allow three points. I know Jamal Lewis had a great second half, but the defense put the offense in great position three times.

Hurry back: LaVar Arrington. The Redskins lack passion on the field and , though he has his faults, Arrington brings needed energy. The sooner he gets back on the field the better. Remember, he turned around the 2001 season with an interception against Carolina. Arrington might play against Chicago on Sunday.

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