Bengals 17, Redskins 10

The Redskins hope one change make a difference. The naysayers have their doubts. But it's at least something different and it was clear that Mark Brunell wasn't the answer at quarterback. So now it's Patrick Ramsey's turn.

Will it make a difference? Maybe.

Is it worth finding out? Yes.

Are there other problems? Absolutely.

At some point, however, the Redskins need to find out about Ramsey. I wonder if he fits this offense, but he's the only quarterback here who can possibly be the future. It's time to find out if that's the case.

Offensive goat: Mark Brunell. As one teammate said, Brunell is the ''greatest guy in the world.'' But, the player added, ''there's a reason he was beat out by a rookie last year.'' Now we know why. There's no doubt the offense has more problems than Brunell. But Joe Gibbs made the right decision. In a season that has again turned ugly, nothing was uglier than his performance Sunday. Brunell missed high, low and wide. His strength was supposed to be accuracy, but that's been absent all season.

Sharing the blame: But, as usual, it wasn't just Brunell. One veteran said it didn't appear there was any energy from the offense. One problem has been the Redskins' interior, which will be a problem for Patrick Ramsey. Teams love coming up the middle, exposing the middle. Randy Thomas hasn't played as well as he did last year. Does he miss Jon Jansen that much? Some, myself included, would say yes. Not only was Jansen a good player, but he also relayed a ton of information to Thomas, helping him out. And Cory Raymer used to be solid, but not anymore. Derrick Dockery shows flashes, but that's about it. This area needs to be fixed. It won't matter who the quarterback is if it's not fixed.

Back to: Jansen, for one minute. The Redskins are forced to protect on his side of the line, helping out Ray Brown. Whenever James Thrash is in the game, he usually ends up in pass protection -- and always on the right side. When Jansen returns, it not only will allow Washington to vary its protection, it also will allow another receiver to get in the pattern. That is sorely needed.

New looks: The Redskins tried to shake free from their offensive doldrums by changing their looks and formations. On a couple occasions, they lined Clinton Portis up in a deep slot formation, with H-back Chris Cooley as the lone back (another time Taylor Jacobs lined up deep in the backfield). None of it worked. They've also used Laveranues Coles more in the slot and have run him on more crossing routes. Doesn't matter when every pass is over your head.

McCants returns: Darnerien McCants got his wish for playing time, catching two passes for 46 yards. But I couldn't believe the Redskins took him out when they reached the 10-yard line. They still scored on the possession, but one thing McCants does well is outjump opponents, making him very effective in the Red Zone.

Nice throw: Patrick Ramsey's best pass was the nine-yard touchdown toss to H-back Chris Cooley, a pass that Brunell could not have completed because of the strength it required.

Defensive woes: The Redskins were not sharp when they needed to be, particularly in the secondary. Fred Smoot missed too many tackles as did Sean Taylor. Finally, Taylor made a big hit -- his first that I can remember this season. But he also missed a few tackles and was run over at least once by Rudi Johnson. Still seems as if Taylor is getting used to tackling NFL players as opposed to the smaller college backs, who he could knock over with a strong shoulder or arm.

Defensive plusses: The Redskins managed to shut out Cincinnati in the second half, holding the Bengals to less than 90 yards. But one thing: their receivers did get open deep, but were missed. Don't fret, however, because Chad Johnson is a special receiver and he also had a good day against ex-Redskin Champ Bailey.

Curious strategy: After Taylor made a nice interception on the first play from scrimmage, the Redskins blew the gift when they opted for three straight passes, leading to a punt. Seven of their first nine plays were passes, a horrendous decision considering the run defense they were facing and the fact that they can't throw the ball. I thought the Redskins had identified who they were a week earlier against Detroit: ball-control, defense and special teams. And then they come out throwing the ball?

The Kickin' Kimrin: Ola Kimrin is an adequate field goal kicker, but he lags far behind in the nuances of the position, like kickoffs and onside kicks. Kimrin's onside kicks are way too pedestrian, especially compared to John Hall. Kimrin's onside kick Sunday was like a routine grounder to a shortstop. And his kickoffs are too short.


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