DEBUGGING THE SKINS - EAGLES

The Redskins were outscored, outplayed, outcoached, outhustled. The Eagles outdid them all over the place. Which is what happens when a team loses 37-7. So much for showing the nation just how good the Redskins were. But, we admit, we were outwritten. We foolishly thought the Redskins were ready to win such a game. We thought the Redskins would do the wise thing and pound the ball against a defense whose weakness is stopping the run.

And we foolishly said this: don't worry about James Thrash. Um, we meant don't worry about him except for the six plays in which he might catch passes for 107 yards.

I'm still not sold on Thrash as a big-play guy, but he showed he can hurt a team and spin around a corner. Also, he showed he can run past a flat-footed safety who reacts slowly. Give the hard-working Thrash credit because we certainly are.

Redskins coach Steve Spurrier was correct when he said that Washington was outcoached. That was true on both sides of the ball as the Eagles showed up with lots to prove after a Week 1 loss. Washington could have proven itself in front of the NFL world, but didn't.

Instead, the Redskins merely showed that they are what many thought: a decent team but not one ready to challenge for upper supremacy. Not yet. They still need more speed at receiver before that can happen.

What we learned:

. . .Steve Spurrier's arrogance shows in his belief that his teams can pass against anyone. They can't. Not against a team with three potential Pro Bowl players in the secondary and one of the game's best pass rushers. If he learned a lesson Monday night, it can help Washington. If not, the Redskins will continue to look good one game and bad the next, because that's where their talent level is. Brian Billick might have a humongous ego, but he won a title by shelving it and relying on a stout defense and strong running game.

. . . Washington only has one receiver worthy of mention. Of course we knew that going into the game and nothing changed our minds. Rod Gardner showed that he could play against top corners, but the other wideouts were invisible. Gardner has improved at using his hands and his body, which is why he was able to occasionally grab a ball against Pro Bowler Troy Vincent.

. . . The Redskins need help at safety. David Terrell is not cutting it, making few plays and allowing big ones. He's not the only one to blame, but he is an easy target these days. Especially for opposing offenses.

. . . Washington had better hope Shane Matthews can play against San Francisco. Danny Wuerffel too often makes silly mistakes and doesn't have the arm to compensate for late reads or narrow openings. He entered in a bad situation, but he's shown no reason of late to suggest he can even be a quality backup.

. . . Redskins fans, Eagles fans, beer and Monday Night Football don't mix. We've never seen more fights at FedEx Field than last night.

. . . End Bruce Smith is finished as a fulltime player, so say the stats. He has one and a half sack in his last 10 games and six in his last 20. He still draws some double teams, but that's always been the case.

. . . LaVar Arrington can't rush the passer from the end position. That's not a knock against him; it's just not what he does best. Arrington made an incredible impact last season and only posted half a sack. Let him stand up and make plays.

. . . When you play the Eagles, you must punch back and you do that by being physical.

Worst move: Opening the game with nine passes on the first 13 plays. What the heck were the Redskins thinking? After the game Shane Matthews talked about what a great secondary the Eagles had. And about their great pass rush. Philly would have struggled against the run; Washington has one of the NFL's best runners. Use him! We know Steve Spurrier likes to use the pass to set up the run, but this was a game where the opposite was true.

Best move: By Philadelphia's offense. The Eagles spread the Redskins' defense, using multiple receiver sets. In the past, Washington had succeeded in forcing Donovan McNabb to spend lots of time reading coverages. By spreading the defense, Washington was often forced to tip its coverages, allowing McNabb to feel more comfortable in the pocket. We saw what the result of that was.

Second best move: By the Eagles' defense. Washington expected more blitzes and man coverage. Philly countered with few blitzes and lots of zone. It worked.

Worst development: Washington's struggling defense, and the lack of a pass rush. The Redskins' defensive line hasn't generated much pressure in the first two games. End Bruce Smith's struggles aren't the only ones to be concerned about. The Redskins allowed 10 plays of 15 yards or longer, with a number of players at fault.

Also, corner Fred Smoot has twice been beaten on double moves the past two weeks. If he wants to reach the Pro Bowl, he must start playing much better. There's little margin for error right now.

Game ball: to punt returner Jacquez Green, for his 90-yard touchdown run. Green temporarily lifted the Redskins. Too bad the defense couldn't sustain the momentum.

Offensive player of the game: Gardner. He caught four passes for 63 yards, a decent night versus an outstanding secondary.

Defensive player of the game: Are you kidding?

Worst penalty: LaVar Arrington jumping offsides on a field goal attempt, giving Philly an automatic first down. Naturally, the Eagles eventually scored a touchdown.

Best attitude: Redskins coach Steve Spurrier, who flatly admitted that he had been outcoached and accepted responsibility for the loss. It's something we NEVER heard under Norv Turner. It's why players like working for Spurrier.


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