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FOX NFL Sunday tackles the issues - Redskins are back?


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FOX NFL Sunday tackles the issues


After one impressive victory can we say the Redskins are back?

Jimmy Johnson: "Well, last season they were 2-0 at the start of the season. But the way they are going about things tells me they have the look of a successful NFL team. They are running the ball and protecting the passer. That impresses me more than simply beating Tampa Bay."

Howie Long: "They are so much more fundamentally sound. There is obviously an emphasis on keeping the defense off-balance on pass protection. They actually had wide receivers chipping at (Bucs DE) Simeon Rice. Offensive tackle Chris Samuels was a rising star before Steve Spurrier arrived and for the past two years he didn't look like the same player. Now he's dominant again. Mark Brunell wasn't spectacular, but he managed the game well."

Terry Bradshaw: "I hear what you're saying and I agree. But it's too early to be jumping on anyone's bandwagon. They have an interesting game on Sunday against a team that could be unraveling. If they beat the Giants are we going to say they're going to the Super Bowl. If the Panthers lose to Kansas City, are we writing them off? I don't think so.

Long: "I hate to say this, but Terry's right. The Redskins' first game could have ended differently. Bucs receiver Joey Galloway caught rookie safety Sean Taylor deep and Galloway dropped the ball. That could have been a touchdown. And Washington struggled on coverage teams, but Tampa Bay wasn't able to take advantage."

What do you make of the Packers' win in Carolina, dumping the defending NFC champs?

Johnson: "For a moment there, I thought I was watching John Elway in his last couple years with the Denver Broncos. They were pounding the ball with Ahman Green like the Broncos did with Terrell Davis and Favre was making the pass plays that he needs to make to get the win."

Long: "Carolina really looked frustrated on defense. The look in their eyes was that they couldn't stop anything. The Packers did an excellent job of double-teaming Julius Peppers and Kris Jenkins when they had to. Green Bay has a very good line, but Kansas City's might be better. Two totally different styles: The Packers scheme you, but the Chiefs whip you. They say, 'We're running Priest Holmes right there, come and try and stop us.' After a while, the defense starts blinking."

Bradshaw: "I was impressed that Green Bay controlled the line of scrimmage. Both sides. I actually thought Ahman Green had 200 yards (actually only 119 yards on career-high 33 carries)."

Long: "It's funny that you say that. I thought he had more yards, too. He always seemed to be pounding them."

Should we give the edge on Sunday to Kansas City's receivers?

Johnson: "At the end of last season, the hottest receiver in the league was Steve Smith. He was the guy for Carolina. Where are they going to score their points now? Other than losing quarterback Jake Delhomme, no player had a biggest effect on their team."

Bradshaw: "I can't even name Kansas City's receivers. Seriously, I know they have Johnnie Morton, but their main receivers aren't wideouts. It's Priest Holmes and Tony Gonzalez you have to worry about."

Long: "Did you notice that the Broncos lined up cornerback Champ Bailey opposite Gonzalez on Sunday night? That's how much respect the Broncos had for Gonzalez. Still, I don't think KC's receivers are the issue here. I'm not giving up on them. I didn't see them sputter too much last season. Baltimore might have been the only game."

Seattle at Tampa Bay. Are the Bucs really sliding and can the Seahawks win another on the road?

Bradshaw: "If Shaun Alexander plays, and I think he will, Seattle can open the season 2-0."

Johnson: "Two east-coast road trips are hard to pull off, back-to-back. Tampa should win regardless."

Long: "But what about what Keyshawn Johnson said about Jon Gruden? Sometimes, Keyshawn is just howling at the moon, but this time he pointed out how much Gruden was knocking Tim Brown in meetings last year, about how slow he was, and then he brings him in."

Johnson: "Gruden seems infatuated with every old guy that's available. Every old vet that's released, Gruden wants to sign him. Remember, he wanted Emmitt Smith. He still sees Jerry Rice as one of the best. His mentality is that he wants the experienced player, but you have to develop young players the way the current system is."

Long: "I agree that you can't live with free-agents. No team has enough money to compete like that. But some of the guys they've brought in are not only old, but over-the-hill."

Johnson: "This team could be going downhill. Because no matter what a great coach Gruden is — I do think he's very good — you can't win with bad talent. And don't forget that Monte Kiffin is also one of the best defensive coaches in the game. The only knock I have on Gruden is that I think some of his talent decisions are questionable."

What did you think about Terrell Owens being more than an hour late last Sunday for his first game in Philadelphia?

Bradshaw: "Unlike Giants coach Tom Coughlin, Andy Reid didn't fine him. Reid accepted his excuse about the traffic and that he had something on his mind. I guess a friend was having a kidney transplant."

Johnson: "Still, it's a bad sign. His mind, because he scored three touchdowns, is that it wasn't a big deal. But I'd be concerned about things to come."

Long: "I will give him the benefit of the doubt. That is a tough stadium to get to, even if you've driven to that area a 100 times. I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt. If it happens again, it becomes a concern."

Bradshaw: "It sounds crazy that he goes home first after leaving the team hotel, but I'm cutting him a break on this one."

Big shootout Monday night, Vikings at Eagles. If you had to choose, what quarterback and receiver would you pick?

Johnson: "Randy Moss is better than T.O. and I like Daunte Culpepper. I like Donovan McNabb, too, but Moss swings it for me."

Long: "The reason Jimmy is right is because no wide receiver impacts the game more than Moss. He opens up the running game. He's so fast he causes interferences. His overall explosion is better and he's a better athlete than Owens."

Johnson: "Moss can change a game. T.O. will have some drops and there are some games when he is not the best. I feel Moss is there, ready, on every play."

OK, so who do we like in the NFC North?

Johnson: "It's going to be Green Bay and Minnesota. And it's going to be a race the whole season."

Bradshaw: "I was pretty surprised how much Green Bay blitzed Carolina on Monday night. I didn't think they were that complicated, but Carolina couldn't deal with it."

Johnson: "Blitzing is a helluva lot more successful early in the season because most offensive lines aren't together all preseason. Plus, it's hard to prepare for it. I'm sure Green Bay didn't show its entire blitz scheme in preseason."

Long: "These two teams meet in Minneapolis on Christmas eve. That game could decide the division."

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Good points. I have to agree with the guys that it's much to soon to tell much of anything.

I think most of us are so excited, because for the first time in a long time, we say good Redskins football. We had a big TD play, we played smart, we ran the ball and played good defense, and we controlled the clock when we had to.

There are still concerns though, so we'll just have to wait and see how it all unfolds.

Like it was posted a few weeks ago though, we end up 6-0 and still have doubts because of the schedule.

I'm standing by my prediction of 11 wins this year, getting some against a soft early schedule, and getting a few tough ones later in the season after the team has grown into the offense.

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