Redskins seek reversal of fortunes on offense

Production drop pinned on passing

November 08, 1992|By VITO STELLINO | VITO STELLINO,STAFF WRITER

SEATTLE - Redskins of the Lost Offense.

Thats an appropriate title for the Washington Redskins today when they limp into the Kingdome to play the Seattle Seahawks.

The Redskins, who haven't scored an offensive touchdown in 11 quarters, are on the threshold of one of the biggest one-year scoring drops in NFL history. After scoring 485 points last year, they've managed only 143 in the first half this year.

If they maintain that pace and finish with 286 points, that'll be a dropoff of 199 points in one season. The record of 207 was set by the 1964 New York Giants and the 1974 Atlanta Falcons.

Coach Joe Gibbs has pinpointed the passing game as the major problem.

"We're just off a little bit in the whole passing game." Gibbs said.

Gibbs' solution for most problems is hard work and more practice, which is why he started talking last week about the importance of players practicing.

That was widely interpreted as a message to wide receiver Gary Clark, who has often skipped practice in the past with sore hamstrings. Clark got the message and worked all week.

Gibbs also might decide to get rookie Desmond Howard in the offense with some four-wide receiver sets. Quarterback Mark Rypien has a lot of incentive for a big game, too, because this is a homecoming for him and he'll have a lot of friends and relatives in the stands.

Whatever is ailing the Redskins, they might find the cure in the Kingdome when they face the 1-7 Seahawks, who would gladly trade problems with the 5-3 Redskins.

The Seahawks have 15 players on injured reserve, have lost six starters on offense and are down to their third-string quarterback, Stan Gelbaugh. Their defense is respectable, although it has lost its second-best player, linebacker Terry Wooden.

The Seahawks' only edge in this game appears to be at defensive tackle, where Cortez Kennedy will line up against either Joe Jacoby, who's not sure if he can play because of a pinched nerve in his neck, or Ray Brown.

He reminds me somewhat of Jerome Brown," Jacoby said in reference to the Philadelphia Eagles' Pro Bowl lineman who was killed in an auto accident in June.

Kennedy is one of the best young linemen in the league, but he can't do it alone.

The Seahawks have scored just five touchdowns in eight games and are averaging 6.6 points a game. The lowest total in the post World War II era was the 7.4 points a game averaged by the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their first season.

The result has been a virtual nightmare season for Tom Flores, the former Raiders coach who stepped out of the front office where he served as president and general manager to return to the sidelines this year.

The first question Flores gets is why he decided to go back.

"It's hard to explain it," he said. "Some close friends think I'm crazy. Maybe that goes with the job. You've got to be a little different."

With the Raiders, he won two Super Bowls, but was overshadowed by owner Al Davis although he said jokingly, "I took credit for the losses.

He added, "I'd be lying if I said it didn't bother me once in a while, You'd like to be able to get up and say, Hey, remember me. I happen to be the coach."

One of his Super Bowl victories came against the Redskins, a 38-9 triumph in Super Bowl XVIII. He has coached against the Redskins only once since then, losing 10-6 in Washington in 1986.

Flores even was in the Redskins' training camp as a quarterback "for about a week" in 1959, but was cut while recovering from arm surgery he underwent in college.

"Nowadays, they'd put you on lR. I wasn't ready to come back, but they didn't have any rules in those days. They did give me a ticket home they paid for," he said.

Flores originally tried to install some of the Raiders' long-ball vertical game into the offense, but he had to become a bit more conservative when the injuries started piling up.

"It's been pretty tough, but you have to look forward. You always prepare to win, maybe by going a little more conservative and making sure you don't turn the ball over," he said.

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