Puzzled 'Skins look to put pieces back together

With San Diego debacle now in past, team set to take on Green Bay

Pro Football

September 21, 2001|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,SUN STAFF

ASHBURN, Va. -- In advance of Monday's game at Green Bay's Lambeau Field, Washington Redskins center Cory Raymer, a Wisconsin native, has been scrambling to find extra tickets for friends and relatives.

But, in the wake of three fumbled snap exchanges in the Redskins' 30-3 loss to the San Diego Chargers in the opener nearly two weeks ago, Raymer -- and the rest of the offense, for that matter -- has had to spend time going back to the basics."[The center snap] is just so fundamental that it shouldn't be a factor. It should never be a factor, and the question that it is, I mean I don't know how you differ from one snap to the other, because they all feel the same," said Raymer this week. "It's so repetitious. It's one of the things that you do. It's just embarrassing, and there's no room for it. It has to be taken care of immediately. We're hopeful that we've corrected it."

If the connection between center and quarterback were the only problem with the Washington offense, there might not be so much to worry about.

But the Redskins looked pathetic on offense through the preseason, and the trend continued into the opener, when the team mustered only 161 total yards -- just 44 on the ground -- and eight first downs, while turning the ball over four times.

"The first game of the season is behind us now. We learned a lot from that game," said running back Stephen Davis, who ran for 35 yards on 14 carries and fumbled twice. "As far as the offense goes, we learned some things as a team and as individuals. We just have to do the things we're capable of as a team and as an offense."

Based on their performance, it's hard to know what those things are. And after coach Marty Schottenheimer's decision to yank starting quarterback Jeff George for backup Tony Banks midway through the third quarter, there's no certainty about who will run the offense.

Schottenheimer has reinstated George as starter, but he did not rule out replacing George again.

"I don't know. It's not my intention [to make a change] as we prepare for this game, but that's the way it is," said Schottenheimer. "The only thing I can tell you is, in the interest of winning a game, we will do anything within the framework of the rules to do that."

George, who had declined to talk about the benching after the San Diego game and since, broke his silence yesterday, but said little about his feelings, saying he thought it was "best for the team."

"And to be honest, I thought it was best for me," he said. "I didn't want to deal with it. And I'm not going to deal with it. What's in the past is in the past."

Schottenheimer said he doesn't believe George's previous refusal to speak constitutes a lack of leadership.

"That leadership stuff, that's all overrated," George said. "If you win, you're doing everything right. The bottom line is you have to win. My team knows that I'm there for them, and I know that they'll be there for me. That leadership stuff has never been a concern. It's just something that's always brought up when something goes bad."

George's teammates seem solidly behind the quarterback, who missed much of training camp with tendinitis in his throwing shoulder.

"Everybody on this offense has confidence in him, [and] the defense, too. He's our quarterback, and we're going to go out and play together as a team. He's our leader," said Davis.

Tight end Stephen Alexander said George "gives us our best chance of winning," but added that in terms of timing between a quarterback and receivers, "it doesn't matter who's throwing the football."

Banks, the former Ravens starter who was signed in mid-August after being cut by the Dallas Cowboys, has been largely quiet beyond supporting George as the starter, while affirming that he considers himself a starter.

At any rate, the Redskins' offense faces an active Green Bay defense that gave up only six points to the Detroit Lions in its opener.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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