As in '88, Redskins find opening game is no snap Does loss to Cowboys signal Super slump?

September 09, 1992|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Staff Writer

ASHBURN, VA — ASHBURN, Va. -- Instant replay seems to be alive and well for the Washington Redskins.

They're starting the 1992 season as if it were a replay of the 1988 season.

That was the year that George Bush was running for president and the Washington Redskins were defending Super Bowl champions. They opened that season Monday night on the road against a division rival, losing to the New York Giants, 27-20, with the help of a blocked punt that turned into a fourth-quarter touchdown. The next day, the Redskins cut their snapper, Mike Scully, because his poor snap contributed to the blocked punt.

In the 1992 opener Monday night in Dallas, a Redskins punt was blocked for a safety to start a 23-10 loss to the Cowboys. Yesterday, Washington was looking for a long snapper to replace John Brandes, who is playing with a knee injury.

His high snap forced Kelly Goodburn to jump and turn to his right, where he kicked the ball right into Issiac Holt, who beat Johnny Thomas on the play.

Long snapping, though, is the least of the Redskins problems. After all, in 1988 they finished 7-9 -- the only losing season for coach Joe Gibbs in his 11 years with the team -- after changing long snappers that year.

Wayne Sevier, the Redskins special teams coach, wasn't with the team in 1988, but he knows the Redskins have lost the "wild fervor" the team played with last year.

"It's not the same. I don't see us flying around with that wild fervor that we were able to capture last year," Sevier said. "You can talk about it. If it doesn't come from within, until we get that back, we're going to be struggling.

"I can live with anything that happens if we're busting our butt going 100 percent at all times because you'll make up for your mistakes. But when you're working at 98 percent, 95 percent, maybe 90 percent and the other team is working at full speed, you're going to be in trouble," Sevier said.

Sevier said the team is fighting human nature. Right now, human nature is winning.

"It's not uncommon [for Super Bowl winners to struggle]. We're fighting human nature. If you look at the norm, it says we'll have a mediocre season because we won the Super Bowl and it'll be real easy to be mediocre. To stand up and do something great, that's a little different," Sevier said.

Except for probably bringing in a long snapper, Sevier said he doesn't plan any major changes. The players they have must play better.

On Kelvin Martin's 79-yard touchdown return, four players -- Thomas, Brandes, Stephen Hobbs and Kurt Gouveia -- were in position to make the tackle at the start of the play. None of them did. A year ago, all four of them probably would have made it.

"A lot of times you work your way through a season and it's pulling and yanking and it's tough. Last year was so smooth, so many guys [were] on a real roll," Sevier said. "The emergence of Brian Mitchell early in the season and getting off to such a fast start. It just fed on itself. We were good, we played hard and we were lucky. We got every break in the book. So it was sort of a storybook deal, and now we're back to the point where it's going to be a dogfight every week."

Sevier knows the Redskins can't recapture last year in a week.

"Teams don't just up and go from one week to the next playing great. We've got to work our way into being the team that we should be," he said.

In 1988, the Redskins never got to that point. They'll find out if things will be different in 1992.

NOTES: QB Mark Rypien said he had good work in practice last week and doesn't think he is rusty after his holdout. He said pressure from the Cowboys led him to rush throws and throw some balls away. . . . DT Bobby Wilson and OT Joe Jacoby, who went out with sprained knees, hope to be back for the Atlanta game Sunday.

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