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The Remedy

Remember how on Monday night the Vikings kept feeding the ball to Chester Taylor for some tough yards to work the clock in a tight game even though he was averaging like 2 yards per carry? Remember who won that game and ultimately churned through a tired defense in the fourth quarter?

Forget 700 pages of playbook beauty. Forget throwing 35 times. Forget about whether Portis plays or not. It's time to run the rock, baby. They have three other backs besides Dolla Bill. They are facing a Houston team that has been getting beat up at the line of scrimmage. Get Randy Thomas pulling, have Sellers as the lead blocker and run some beef on the power stuff to the outside. The Texans are starting a rookie lineman and a rookie linebacker. Pick one, attack him, and out-physical somebody.

This is supposed to be a team that thrives in a slugfest built for the rough and tough NFC East. That's how they played when they salvaged the season in December. In times of crisis, go back to what's worked before, sexy free agent class or not. Heck, even when they've been trying to throw the new receivers ball it hasn't been ending up in their hands, so might as well get the blocking and re-establish some rushing identity. It'll take some heat off Brunell, it'll make the offensive line feel good about itself and keep them off their heels. They need to set a tempo and starting pushing defenses back, rather than rocking on their heels.

On defense, I keep rotating Demetric Evans for Andre Carter, maybe more than before. And I open the game by going after David Carr like Tom Cruise targets vacant couches or Brooke Shields, or bloated, played out scripts for hackneyed action movies. If you're going to keep giving up big plays like this, might as well be while trying to do what you do best.

By Jason La Canfora  |  September 19, 2006; 12:30 PM ET
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Next: Cowboys Do Fear The Reaper (and I don't blame them)


My kingdom for a pass rush...

This should be the perfect opportunity to get things clicking. Jump on Carr early and often and get the defense off the field. That gives the offense all day long to work out the nuances of the 700 page playbook.

Posted by: homer | September 19, 2006 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Hackneyed... nice

Posted by: Dorf | September 19, 2006 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Good call Jason. As long as Brunell is at QB, the Skins should just run the ball.

Posted by: Stro | September 19, 2006 12:43 PM | Report abuse

As Portis goes, so goes the offense. Limited Sheriff Gonna Get Yah in first 2 weeks, no wins.

Posted by: Kyle | September 19, 2006 12:57 PM | Report abuse

So if a game plan w/ Brunell is run run run and instruct him to only pass as needed, why can't you do that w/ JC? Isn't that how Rothlesberger thrived? Do agree though to give Brunell a chance to play with Dolla Bill...but only a one game leash. If we lose to Houston, we hav GOT to shake things up.

Posted by: Graham | September 19, 2006 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Brunell (and the offensive free agents) will thrive if the Skins do re-establish their gritty run identity. Against Houston, those players won't have to thrive, and I agree we should stick with the run throughout. This will continue to help for the rest of the season and will open up the passing game and the new talent downfield when necessary.

Posted by: Watching From the Netherlands | September 19, 2006 1:11 PM | Report abuse

The forward pass is just a fad anyway. Who needs it.

Posted by: Ttlsccr | September 19, 2006 1:15 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Graham, even if Big Ben is one of the more overrated QB's in the NFL. I'd say the Steelers would never win a Super Bowl with him as the starter, but they've already done that. Although, they were victorious in spite of him.

Seriously, though, if the Redskins are going to get back to running 30-35 times a game, might as well let Campbell play. He needs to get used to game action if he's going to be effective next season.

Posted by: Colin | September 19, 2006 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Didn't Joe Bugel promise us "slobber knocking" football? Haven't seen it. Going for the edges on a 3rd-and-short run is not slobber knocking football.

Posted by: Bart | September 19, 2006 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Maybe the coaches could build team confidence by showing them film of how well they played in Osaka...

Posted by: Thor | September 19, 2006 1:34 PM | Report abuse

The Redskins have cornered the market on shaking things up. Every year it's a new coach, new playbook, new QB, new receivers, new running backs. Maybe for once they should consider just working with what they have and improving. A commitment to running the football would be nice, however.

Posted by: Joe in Raleigh | September 19, 2006 1:47 PM | Report abuse

How are we going to keep Sean Taylor around when we've given the largest safety contract in the history of the NFL to Adam "Leading in Tackles Because My Man is Always Open and Catches the Ball" Archuleta?

Posted by: Save Sean Taylor! | September 19, 2006 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Everyone is asking for Jason Campbell "soup" (I'm surprised no else has mentioned this), but in all honesty we can't bring him in yet. When we start to run again, the good thing about brunell is that he's not going to make the same rookie mistakes that campbell is going to make and that will pay off for us cause if campbell is the qb they are just going to stack the line and dare us to throw with a rookie qb and the results will be bad. With brunell they can't necessarily stack the line and will have to switch it up, and that's when we excelled last year. It's not over yet but if we lose to houston the season is looking bad cause we play jacksonville the next week at home. So if we beat houston we are still looking at 1-3? 1-3? oh man that's not good.

Posted by: Jabba | September 19, 2006 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Winning football teams either 1) use the pass to set up the run and kill the clock (Indy Pats & Philly) or 2) Use the run to play ball control early and set up the pass/play action to knock a team out (Steelers,Ravens, Etc.)

It is about damn time the Skins pick a plan either plan...come on guys make it happen

Posted by: afan | September 19, 2006 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Andre Carter...Andre Carter...Andre Carter...the Post couldn't stop raving about this guy in the off/pre-season...i looked at him closely so far, and he has never even sniffed the opposing QBs (who by the way, are old stiffs). These QBs will always make good throws when they're not facing any pressure. Seriously, why is everyone so high on Carter...with him out there, he's leaving all the coverage people out to dry...

Posted by: DC | September 19, 2006 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Good point. But am I the only one out there who would like to see Rock Cartwright out there far more often? The dude averaged over 7 yards a carry last year. Give him a chance.

Posted by: charlie | September 19, 2006 2:47 PM | Report abuse

im down with getting the running game going...i think that is the ultimate remedy on offense...however, brunell still needs to be willing (and ideally able) to throw the ball down the field if the running game is faltering and especially if we are behind in the 4th quarter...the fact that we were down 17 and it was 4th down and 7 and what ended up being the last play of the game and the dude still doesnt throw the ball and opts for another sack is absolutely not asking for his head and im not ready to go to cambell YET but he better get comfortable back there next week, get those kinks worked out by the time jacksonville rolls into town...the unwillingness to throw the ball vertically is not acceptable...especially when your down by 2 scores in the 4th quarter...what is he trying to manage at that point...youre not in a position to try to manage the game...youve got to take it back first...

defensively we just need to attack...sitting back doesnt protect a bad secondary...attacking the quarterback is the only way...

Posted by: seattle deadskin | September 19, 2006 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Let's bring back some talent on the D ends - maybe the future Hall of Famer Bruce Smith - he's available and currently working out at da beach - Va.Beach that is.

Posted by: B. Smith | September 19, 2006 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Amen Charlie, I've been shouting it from the rooftops...

Posted by: Dorf | September 19, 2006 3:14 PM | Report abuse

where are Dexter Manley and Mark Rypien? It would be an improvement.

Posted by: tmac | September 19, 2006 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Run, run, then what? Even if you average 3 yards a carry, Brunell & co still face 3rd and 4, which means he has to throw. This team has been abysmal on 3rd down conversions so far.

I say let Rande-El do a gidget pass on every third down. He was a pretty decent college QB.

Posted by: slimyoung | September 19, 2006 4:21 PM | Report abuse

You know what they say "the back up QB is always the favorite player on the team". Although I think Campbell should be give a chance before the season is over (it feels like it just started but is already over)now is not the time.

Does anyone remember that Brunell threw a great pass to Lloyd in the preseason - and 2 to Randel El? How soon we forget! Of course, that was about all we did in the preseason - sad to say.

My recommendations:

(1) Let Portis play - please!
(2) Shawn - get well and come back NOW!
(3) Give Sean Taylor a HUGE new contract NOW!
(4) Put Rocky McIntosh in as a starter

Posted by: Rainesmaker | September 19, 2006 4:35 PM | Report abuse

jason, how come no one in the press conference pointed out to joe gibbs that mark was "couragious", "fired passes", and "hung in there" IN PREVENT DEFENSE WHEN THEY WERE TRAILING BY 17 and no chance of coming back!!!!!!!!!!!! actually there was a chance and that was score a TD, on side kick, recover, score a TD/FG, on side kick, recover, score a td/fg all within 5 minutes!

where was that courage, arm-strength, smarts (to throw it away and take the easy 3 points) when they were only down by 7 and basically given the game to them on a platter by taylor and a 20 yard run by betts?

Posted by: dealer | September 19, 2006 5:29 PM | Report abuse

Cop out! they cannot run because defenses don't respect the pass at all. if they were playing the run so, Brunell should have audibled out of run to a pass. they played two TE often and still got little rush yardage. this approach takes the focus from BUMnell and puts it on Portis and the line. the line needs to step up, but they would not look so bad if BUMnell did not step into so many sacks. BUMnell still thinks he has 4.5 speed. Collins or Cambell would not get sack so much. Collins release the pass much quicker than BUMnell.

Posted by: Rob G! | September 19, 2006 5:47 PM | Report abuse

just a bad start super bowl baby!

Posted by: boofer ed stevens | September 19, 2006 7:03 PM | Report abuse

Jabba: Brunell may not make rookie mistakes, but he also hasn't thrown the ball downfield. The real question is, do you think this team has the potential to make a deep playoff run? If not, play Campbell and let him progress in this offense. If you truly do believe that the Skins are primed for a Super Bowl run, then I guess take your chances with Brunell. But at this point, I'm wondering what he has left. Maybe he'll surprise us all in the coming weeks. But I wouldn't get to hyped about what he may do against the Texans on Sunday. If the Skins blow out Houston and Brunell has a huge game, it could give fans and coaches a false sense of security about the QB position. The Eagles are a perfect example. They were massively overhyped after week one, in which they thoroughly outplayed the Texans. Fastforward one week, and Philly doesn't look so dominant.

Posted by: Colin | September 19, 2006 7:23 PM | Report abuse

The Redskins need to convert on 3rd down if they are going to run it like Minnesota did on Monday night. That's the difference between what Minnesota did and what the Redskins have done. You can't take plays to just pound the ball for 2-3 yards and tire the defense if you can't extend drives. That usually requires completing passes for 6-8 yards, which the Redskins haven't been doing and seemingly haven't been trying to do because the routes all appear to be deep. It looked like Brunell was constantly looking way downfield against Dallas before being forced to dump it to Betts. They seemingly had the same plan against the Patriots in the preseason. It looked the same anyway. The results were also the same in both games.

What I expect the Redskins to do is shorten their pass routes, get the ball out of Brunell's hands quicker, and quit trying all of this deep stuff. Get Cooley back underneath and quit trying to make him Tony Gonzalez. Throw it to Moss and Randle El underneath and let them make moves. Run the ball with Portis on those stretch plays and also between the tackles here and there. Sprinkle in some Duckett power runs. That's a nice mix of stuff, and Brunell's a QB who can lead/coordinate that. Once you do that, then take your shots downfield with Moss and Lloyd. Brunell CAN throw the deep ball in that manner. He's just not a guy whom you try to throw 25-30 yard passes with for an entire game. Warner or Bledsoe are those types of QBs, not Brunell.

In sum, they've been trying to run before they can walk so to speak. Brunell's a QB you use to pick people apart, not blow them away. Think Brad Johnson or Trent Green, not Kurt Warner. Saunders needs to think more Kansas City and less St. Louis, no matter how much he wanted to get back to that St. Louis model after spending 5 years in KC with a no name receiving corps and a weak armed QB. I think the St. Louis type attack will happen in a year or two when Campbell's the QB and the receivers are all acclimated to the offense. But not now.

Posted by: Ryan | September 19, 2006 7:35 PM | Report abuse

Ryan, are you watching the same games we are? Shorten the routes for Brunell? They can't get any shorter--they've already been dumping them off to Randal El and he can't even get close to the first down marker. They've yet to throw a long one down the field--oh wait, that wobbler of an interception, my bad. That made it about 20 yards, not sure I'd call that a long pass.

And please don't try and insinuate Saunders thinks Brunell is anything like Trent Green--he puts up 4k in yardage a year, or even Brad Johnson--the man who can throw with either arm while a defensive lineman is clinging to his back. By the way, both great ex-redskin QBs, good move by our non-GM.

Jason, running the Rock is going to get us nowhere. The only pounding we're going to do is with Portis. Maybe you were thinking about a different Rock? Heard he was #1 at the box office.

Posted by: Megskin | September 19, 2006 7:50 PM | Report abuse

Hey guys, another long day at the office. Sorry I got back to the blog this late.
I don;t mean to imply they need to go Big Ben and throw like 12 times like he did as a rookie, I just think they need to reverse the trends. 61 passes and 45 rushes ain't going to cut it right now.
And don't give me that stuff about them trailing - the only time thet've really been down was 4th qtr vs. Dallas.

If Portis plays, run him a lot early, give him a blow and let Ladell take the second quarter. If you';re still in a close game at the half, go back to Portis, and give TJ and Rock a few carries.
They need plays - 55 a game is killign them - and that's goign to come from the ground right now. They need a game of 40 rushes or more to figure out who they are and play to the strengths of that O-line and ease the passing game along. Given the stable a QBs, I think asking any of them to throw 30-plus times a game right now is a bit much and they need to get soem confidence at least in the run game, cause Jacksonville's D looks like it might be the best in the NFL.
Awesome to see all the feedback. Anybosy with specific questions, please post them and I'll get to them ASAP.

Posted by: Jason La Canfora | September 19, 2006 8:17 PM | Report abuse

mood check at Redsking park? I think you tagged them as 'confused' or 'befuddled' on monday. I would hope by now they've figured out what in the world they need to adjust...then again, if they are brimming with confidence, that's probably a really bad sign as well :(

Posted by: Megskin | September 19, 2006 8:29 PM | Report abuse

Jabba says, "Brunell is not going to make the same rookie mistakes that campbell is going to make and that will pay off for us cause if campbell is the qb they are just going to stack the line and dare us to throw."

Two things.

1) By "rookie mistakes" I assume you mean like violating the most fundamental rule of forcing a pass into coverage and comitting a turnover when you should throw it away (or even better, to an open receiver)? That would be the kind of "rookie mistake" that Brunell made after Sean Taylor and the defense finally put us into scoring position and we had a chance to tie the game.

2) By "stacking the line and daring us to throw" you mean what defenses are doing to us now with Brunell in there?

I love your logic!!!

Posted by: jakeweed | September 19, 2006 8:37 PM | Report abuse

The Mad Defense approach is probably something that could change the Team's momentum and it has worked in the past for others.

The flipside to this "I'm big, mad and bad" mental state is that it takes so much energy to sustain and that can sap a team. If it works, it worked. If it fails though, there is a high chance that the team's spirit will be broken.

It's a lot to bet - but the Skins may have no choice.

Posted by: Me and my Mojo | September 19, 2006 8:53 PM | Report abuse

Hey Megskin, what's up?
Tuesday was a player's day off, so the facility is usually pretty quiet. I was there most of the day and I thought the most salient thought of the day came from Phillip Daniels, who wondered aloud why he didn't see the entire team there given their level of play the first two weeks. His thought is when you perform like this for what, 6 weeks now, there are no days off. Everyone should be there watching film, working out or meeting with coaches.
Can't say I disagree.

Posted by: Jason La Canfora | September 19, 2006 11:25 PM | Report abuse


You can't just go off of the attempted deep passes and assume that's the only time the receivers go deep. Just because Brunell didn't throw it doesn't mean the receivers weren't downfield.

It's clear the receivers were going deep all game and were just covered and/or Brunell didn't think he could squeeze the ball in between defenders because of the umbrella/Cover 2 defense teams have been using. Brunell was standing in the pocket looking downfield a lot against Dallas. It's one reason he was sacked a lot. They can't just send everyone downfield. Somebody's got to stay back. I think Saunders has been way too ambitious in his attack and, in a way, is leaving Brunell out to dry back at the line of scrimmage. It looks like they're doing nothing (particularly Brunell) because they're trying to do too much and not accomplishing anything in the process.

Bill Belichick said in the preseason that the Redskins have their receivers running the deepest routes in the NFL. That week, the Patriots proceeded to crush the Redskins much like Dallas did the other night. I saw a similar attack in both games, with Brunell basically looking deep a lot, and with the same results. I don't know if it's Saunders method of attacking the 3-4 defense (which both NE and Dallas use) or what, but clearly it doesn't work, especially with our quarterback.

After the Patriots game, there was a similar crisis to what we're in now, and the Redskins came out the next week against the Ravens and started throwing noticeably shorter passes. Watch the tape when the 1st teamers are in there. But it worked, and they moved the ball for the first time of the preseason, both running and passing, until Cooley dropped a 3rd down pass across the middle that would have been a 1st down. But I think the Redskins will come out against the Texans with the same approach, which is to sort of chip away at the defense first in the passing game and combine that with a heavy emphasis on the run. Then they'll take their shots deep. This is basically what Kansas City did the past five years and for some reason Saunders doesn't want to do that initially and keeps trying to be the Rams (Dallas game) or a fancy version of the 2005 Redskins (Minnesota game) that features a bunch of WR screens, shifting, reverses, and the like. Maybe he justs want to look like a genius or is bored of running the KC attack, I don't know, but he's going to figure out the talent on this team (particularly at QB) mirrors KC more than St. Louis and it's only going to look good if it's running a KC type attack and nothing else.

As for Brunell not being Trent Green, I'd have to reply that Brunell hasn't been playing for the Kansas City Chiefs for the past 5 years. I think Green wouldn't have looked much better if he had been playing here in DC instead of Brunell. Neither guy is a dynamic QB who can make plays regardless of what's around him. They're both system QBs at this stage of their careers. And there has been a dramatic difference in quality of the systems of the Redskins and Chiefs the past few years.

I think Brunell proved last year he can still play. It's in these games where the offense has absolutely no rhythm (read: no running game, too many deep routes) that he starts throwing ducks. I think he gets tight and starts pressing. People forget he was a West Coast QB in Jacksonville and a rhythm type QB.

And sorry for the long post. Hehe.

Posted by: Ryan | September 20, 2006 1:18 AM | Report abuse


I'm shocked to hear about what's going on (or not going on) at the facility.

You are right on. After performances like week 1 and week 2 -- and considering the fact that the players enjoy an offseason many of us do not -- someone would think being at the facility would be a priority. Apparently it is not.

All I know is if I was failing like that, I would put in every extra minute of effort I could to turn things around. Maybe I'm a naive person, but don't the players owe the organization that much?

Posted by: Ali Haji Shank | September 20, 2006 2:23 AM | Report abuse

take the keys from grand pa

Posted by: super fan | September 20, 2006 6:19 AM | Report abuse

Ryan, wow, long post. The short passing game, when they do throw short(which as you pointed out is all the time since the deep routes are covered), has looked pretty woeful, with receivers catching the ball far short of the first down marker and jumping out of bounds or Brunell just missing them completely--why in the world is Saunders trying to run deep routes against a Cover 2 defense anyways?

If you are getting zero results, and getting sacked a lot, wouldn't you change some of your pass patterns? Yes-yes, I know you're going to say: they'll change them THIS week, but what happened to half-time adjustments? Isn't Gibbs clued in on the basic strategy of run, run, throw-deep? Time for him to say at half-time: "Al, change it up some", or maybe that's where all those godawful screens came from. Either way, it's a mess, and either way I DON'T think any of this is going to work with Brunell.

Let me clarify that though. Brunell is going to get his act together; he did last year, and if Saunders and him work something out, he probably will this year. Unfortunately, for about half the year, just like last year and the year before, he is going to be skipping balls off the turf, floating high wafflers like that interception and running around looking confused and scared. It's pretty clear he's lost yet another step, his arm strength is completely suspect when under the slightest pressure(and please, all QBs get pressure, most of them just don't faint and fall down like he does), and he looks like he has no understanding of the offense. Not any of these problems are something you want in a pro-QB. It's not like any of these things are new problems either...well ok, maybe not understanding the 700-page playbook--but really we're probably only on page 3 at this point(j/k). Really I find having your QB non-functional for half the season a bit unacceptable. This from a team that was supposed to go deep into the playoffs, to be better than last year. Is it really OK to have your QB play this bad, because he's over-the-hill, injured and won't say anything, or whatever, and not make a change?

If he does bounce back, we're going to see him go through this all over again in 3-4 games. He bounced back for that 5-game run at the end of the year. But then he was horrid in the playoffs. And that's the real danger. Everyone will go, see Meg, told ya, he's back and he looks good. Then, by the time we make the playoffs, or get to the end run of the season, he'll be back to this maladjusted wreck of a noodle-armed quarterback. Maybe everybody's cool with that though, maybe it's just me. It's just that I spent the whole offseason in a daze wondering why we weren't dumping him from one of the myriad of quarterbacks out there and just sitting here knowing this was going to happen. More than anything though, I'd love Brunell to get off his rear and make me eat my words. Prove to us that he's got something left--because I really don't see it.

Jason, like Ali said: I'm really stunned they had a day off--I guess Gibbs doesn't want to get them stressed out or overworried, but heck, they've got 14 weeks left at the minumum: if you were a player, and your team as O and freaking 2, wouldn't you do anything you could, including watching film on your day off, to get an edge.

Meh. I guess it just goes to show how bad the players really want to win.

Posted by: Megskin | September 20, 2006 8:27 AM | Report abuse

Let's be real. It is time for Joe Gibbs and his coaching staff to depart. We have plenty of football talent on this team. The old style coaching approach thay Gibbs continues to use just doesn't cut it anymore.What in the world do you need a 700-page play book for and who can remember it all.We need to get back to basics and bring in some young minds that coach football for this time and they are out there. Snyder, with all of your resources you have got to start getting some better people informing you. You have the best fans in the NFL in this area and you are not giving us what we deserve.

Posted by: Atmore | September 20, 2006 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Bleh, get real as you say? Get new coaching? That's exactly what Gibbs did: he went out a got one of the best modern day defensive coordinators in the game in Williams and completely passed total control of the defense to him; last year, when he realised his offense reaked of old school style play, he went out a got the best offensive coordinator in football in Saunders, the guy who put together the Greatest Show on Turf.

What more do you want him to do? KC and StLouis did just fine with those offenses and the skins defense has been the strength of this team for years. Perhaps we should stop letting all our defensive stand-outs go and just resign them. (God, why did we ever let Smoot go? And Pierce?)

What Snyder really needs to do is get himself a good GM. Who cares if Gibbs screams and yells and throws a tantrum, this triumverate of GM thingy just ain't working out so well.

Posted by: Megskin | September 20, 2006 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Who is the better Bible thumper Gibbs? Any way to trade Brunell for Warner? Christain for Christian?

Posted by: Paul | September 20, 2006 4:22 PM | Report abuse

The only way Jason Campell gets in, is if he attends all the prayer meetings Gibbs calls, and of course becomes born again!!! These are the only players Gibbs trusts

Posted by: Tommy | September 20, 2006 4:32 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: BOOFER ED STEVENS | September 20, 2006 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Ok Mr. La Confora, as soon as you get a team we will look for that. In the meantime can you just report the news?

Posted by: 20003 | September 20, 2006 6:05 PM | Report abuse

20003 - if you just want the news, read the paper. This is a blog. I look forward you getting a team, too.

Posted by: Jason La Canfora | September 20, 2006 8:05 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, I thought the link to this page, which says "Jason La Canfora updates the latest Redskins news." meant you would be updating the latest Redskins news. Silly me.

Posted by: 20003 | September 21, 2006 1:01 AM | Report abuse


Key words in that title being "Jason La Canafora" if you must get your Skins hatred fix go read Peter King.

Posted by: Skinzfanz | September 21, 2006 10:33 AM | Report abuse


Do you have an interpreter handy? I have been a Redskins fan for 42 years. I am not sure where I indicated I needed a Skins hatred fix.

Posted by: 20003 | September 21, 2006 11:56 AM | Report abuse

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