Washington Redskins' Game Day discussions for 2003, 2004, and 2005
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Redskins coach Joe Gibbs ended speculation about his future by saying he plans to return in 2007.
"I plan on going forward and being the coach here," said Gibbs, who's just 21-25 in his second Redskins tenure, 4-8 this year. "I've made a commitment. I have a passion for trying to do this. I want to try to fix it. As long as I feel like this is where I'm supposed to be, I'm going to be here."
Gibbs, voted to the Hall of Fame in 1996 after leading the Redskins to three Super Bowl victories and eight playoff berths from 1981-92, turned 66 last month and hasn't gotten it done this time. However, Gibbs' players believe in their coach.
"Coach Gibbs isn't the reason we're losing," defensive end Phillip Daniels said. "I don't think it's the coaches at all. It's the players. We're the ones who play the game. No matter what they call, we have to execute. The touchdown we got gashed on yesterday, guys weren't where we were supposed to be. When you don't execute, you get beat."
Gibbs said that despite the crash from last year's divisional round playoff appearance to this year's hold on the NFC East basement, he doesn't expect major changes in the offseason.
"I don't see shaking things up," Gibbs said. "You make good decisions based on who you've got. (We have) a lot of players we can build around. We all know the toughest things in life to deal with are real success and real adversity. It tests you. A lot of people may say, 'the next four games (who cares).' That's not the way I look at it. It's real important for us to make a statement. I want to see how we play. The way we handle these last four games will be big for me."
Daniels feels the same way about the final four games.
"Guys have to show that they want to be a part of this for years to come," said Daniels, 33. "That will show up the last four weeks — who wants to be a part of this thing and who doesn't. You'll see guys who'll go out and work hard because they're pros and guys who won't. Those guys, more than likely, won't be here."
And the Redskins do have the NFL's oldest team to go with the league's oldest coach.
"I'm sure that we're all going to be under the microscope and that guys with a few more years in the league and higher salaries will be looked at," said defensive end Renaldo Wynn, 32. "That's the nature of our game now, but I believe that this team thrives on leadership, which is the older guys. After we won a playoff game last year, I felt we were ready to make our run and go to the next level. This year has been a big letdown. But you can learn from every situation. I don't understand why we're going through this. Maybe a year from now, two years from now, wherever we are, wherever I am, we'll probably see why this happened."
—A day after Shaun Suisham boomed his three kickoffs on average to the three-yard line but was also wide left on a 50-yard field goal try in his Washington debut, the Redskins waived fellow kicker Nick Novak. The former Maryland star had been short on his kickoffs and had made just 5-of-10 field goal attempts.
Suisham pounded his three kickoffs to the one, three and five-yard lines, but he was wide left on his 50-yard field goal try.
"I didn't want to go into the game without seeing Shaun handle all the duties, but I wanted to have Nick there in case we had a problem," coach Joe Gibbs said. "The field goal was on the edge of what he thought he could kick. He hit it well enough, but it went a little left. He improved us on kickoffs. Shaun gives the best chance to get more distance on kickoffs and field goals. He's got a good, strong leg. We hope he'll take it and go with it."
The Redskins re-signed defensive lineman Ryan Boschetti after releasing Novak.
—Cornerback Shawn Springs was a surprise scratch on Sunday. Springs, who was out two months following abdominal surgery on Aug. 15, had practiced on Friday after sitting out on Thursday with an ailing hamstring. Kenny Wright, who had sat out on Thursday after injuring his knee on Wednesday, started his eighth game in place of Springs.
"We brought Shawn out here and tried to loosen him up, but (the hamstring) was just tight," said assistant head coach Gregg Williams. "We really felt it was a risk as tight as it felt."
—Running back Rock Cartwright followed Troy Vincent in becoming the second Redskin in five weeks to block the first kick of his life when he blocked Michael Koenen's punt with 2:15 remaining.
"We had seen some stuff early in the week that we thought we could take advantage of, but I wish we could've taken advantage of it earlier," Cartwright said. "I came free on an earlier one and (Atlanta's Jerious Norwood) cut-(blocked) me and I was like, 'If I come free again, I'm going to just try to get around him.'"
Washington's Reed Doughty picked up the ball and ran 15 yards to the Atlanta 27. However, the Redskins failed to convert the break into points.
—DE Andre Carter had 11 tackles, his most as a Redskin, and tied Phillip Daniels for the team lead with his third sack.
—KR Rock Cartwright passed Michael Bates to trail only Brian Mitchell in kickoff return yards in a season with 1,160. Mitchell had four seasons with more yards.
—RB Ladell Betts caught three passes, giving him 40 catches for the first time in his career.
—QB Jason Campbell's 42-yard TD pass to Santana Moss gave him five TDs in just three starts compared to predecessor Mark Brunell's eight TDs in nine starts.
—FS Sean Taylor started the 40th game of his three-year career.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
REPORT CARD VS. FALCONS
RUSHING OFFENSE: A — Ladell Betts established career highs with 28 carries and 155 yards. It was his second straight 100-yard game, a first in his 5-year career. FB Mike Sellers, LT Chris Samuels, LG Derrick Dockery and TE Chris ey opened plenty of holes, but backup T.J. Duckett, a former Falcon, managed just nine yards on four carries.
PASSING OFFENSE: C — After a sharp debut at Tampa Bay (19 of 34, 196 yards and two TDs despite a 60-yard drop by receiver Brandon Lloyd), young QB Jason Campbell has slipped. He had two TDs again against Carolina but was just 11 of 23 and threw his first interception with another nullified by a penalty. Campbell was 18 of 38 for 218 yards against Atlanta, but that included 10 for 20 for 102 yards once Washington fell behind 24-14 early in the fourth quarter. And Campbell foolishly tossed an early interception right to DT Chauncey Davis to set up Atlanta's go-ahead touchdown. WR Santana Moss was back in form (seven catches, 123 yards, TD) for the first time since straining his right hamstring on Oct. 22 in Indianapolis. TE Chris ey, who had five TDs the previous six games, had two drops and just 12 yards. The blocking was solid although SS Lawyer Milloy did hurt the Redskins on blitzes.
PASS DEFENSE: B-minus — Vick had just 20 yards passing in the first 26 minutes thanks in part to two drops by TE Alge Crumpler. However, Vick found Crumpler twice for 62 yards and a TD before halftime. WR Michael Jenkins, beat CB Kenny Wright, subbing for the injured Shawn Springs, for the go-ahead 22-yard TD in the third quarter. SS Vernon Fox, filling in for the injured Troy Vincent, knocked away an early TD but was beaten on Crumpler's TD. Carter had Washington's only sack.
RUSH DEFENSE: F — The Redskins stopped Michael Vick on fourth-and-1 in the first half, but that was about the only time they slowed the Falcons' league-leading running attack as Atlanta thundered for 256 yards on 41 carries. Warrick Dunn and Vick both made plays, but the killer was rookie RB Jerious Norwood's 69-yard TD jaunt in the fourth quarter that put the game away on a drive that had started on the Atlanta two yard-line. At least DE Andre Carter showed rare life in run defense.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C-plus — New K Shane Suisham was wide left from 50 yards on his only FG attempt but displayed a strong leg on kickoffs. P Derrick Frost was fine. KR Rock Cartwright was OK and he blocked a punt. PR Antwaan Randle El hasn't has had a good return since Nov. 5 against Dallas. The coverage units led up without injured top tackler Khary Campbell. C+
COACHING: D — Joe Gibbs wouldn't have lost this game during his first tenure in Washington. Then again he was never 4-7 back then either. The Falcons, losers of four in a row, were reeling. The Redskins had the confidence from having upset Carolina the previous week. And then Washington jumped out to a 14-0 lead. But it was 24-0 Atlanta the rest of the way as Gibbs lost a two-touchdown lead for the first time since Bill Clinton was stll just the Democratic presidential nominee in 1992.
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