ASHBURN, Va. (AP) Joe Gibbs had his entire offense watch the tape, looking for clues to see if his game plans had become too predictable.
Gibbs' offense struggled again Sunday as the Washington Redskins fell 17-13 to the Cleveland Browns for their third straight loss. The Redskins (1-3)
have scored 16, 14, 18 and 13 points in their four games, not once reaching the coach's stated goal of three touchdowns per outing.
"If we're not doing that, I look at it as we're not getting the job done," Gibbs said. "A lot of that's my responsibility, so it starts with me."
After Sunday's loss, running back Clinton Portis said the Browns' defense seemed to know what was coming at the line of scrimmage.
"They were literally calling our plays," Portis said.
Browns cornerback Daylon McCutcheon essentially agreed.
"Their offense is not that complicated," McCutcheon said. "They have certain tendencies. Let's say it's third down. They line up in this formation and
they only run two different routes. It makes our job a whole lot easier."
Gibbs put the theory to his own test Monday, carefully scrutinizing the tape. His conclusion: Only a couple of plays looked suspicious.
"There were two plays that I felt like they were pointing at something as if they might say we're running the football," Gibbs said. "We did the run
the football. We made 4 yards and 8."
Otherwise, Gibbs seemed satisfied that his game plan was sufficiently diverse. The problem with the offense isn't predictability, he said. It's
penalties and turnovers.
"We just have to be more efficient," he said.
Regardless, the Redskins need to find answers in a hurry. The team with the most expensive payroll in NFL history is also the only team in the NFC
East with a losing record.
"We're all being tested," said Gibbs, who lost three straight only twice during his first tenure in Washington. "We're 1-3. It's a tough thing in
football when you're going through that, but life's that way lots of times, too."
A couple of problems that have beset the Redskins all season reversed themselves against the Browns. The sacks went away - none allowed after nine
given up the previous two weeks - but the turnovers returned.
Portis fumbled on the first play of the third quarter, setting up Cleveland's first touchdown and turning the momentum of the game. Portis lost only
one fumble last season with Denver, but he's already lost three with Washington.
Then Laveranues Coles fumbled after making a catch on Washington's final drive, erasing the last chance to march for a winning touchdown.
In addition, the offense committed more than its share of the team's seven penalties, including three that helped stifle drives in the first
Although Portis' comments raised quite a stir, it should be noted that Gibbs' teams in the 1980s were often predictable. There were times when
everybody in the stadium knew, for example, that John Riggins would be barreling up the middle repeatedly. The defenses just weren't able to stop
Still, Gibbs realizes that a varied game plan is necessary in today's NFL. And he thinks his is varied enough.
"It's one thing to think it," Gibbs said. "It's another thing to make it happen."