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Redskins, Buccaneers Searching for Answers

November 13, 2005|From Associated Press

TAMPA, Fla. — Joe Gibbs is stumped, too.

Washington is 5-3 halfway through the season despite having one of the NFL's worst turnover ratios, and the Redskins coach is at a loss to explain how.

"That's a good question," Gibbs said, breaking in a laugh before repeating his response and giggling again.

"To be quite honest, we're going against the odds, and you can't do that week in and week out. We think we've got smart football players. We think we work hard as coaches to figure it out. We've added things in practice.

"But the fact is we are minus-9. We're not taking it away, and we're giving it up. If you do that, it's a recipe for disaster."

Just ask this week's Redskins opponent, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Bucs are 5-3, too, but enter today's game at Raymond James Stadium on a two-game losing streak in which they've thrown four interceptions and lost three fumbles while failing to force any turnovers on defense.

At minus-1, Tampa Bay is in the middle of the pack in turnover ratio, significantly better than Washington, which is tied for next to last in the league with Green Bay and St. Louis. Only New Orleans, which is minus-13 through eight games, is worse.

But that's not good enough for the Bucs, who've always relied on their defense to help control field position for a struggling offense. Especially now with a young quarterback learning on the fly.

Chris Simms will make his third start in place of injured Brian Griese this week, and linebacker Derrick Brooks said its up to the defense to make sure the inexperienced quarterback has every opportunity to be successful against the Redskins.

"No one is asking us to do more than what we ask ourselves," Brooks said.

The Bucs lead the league in fewest yards allowed, however it seems like forever since anyone's made a play that's changed the course of a game.

"We're a defensive team. We've won around here playing great defense. It's not going to stop. It's not going to change," cornerback Brian Kelly said, adding that there's no reason Tampa Bay can't be successful with Simms filling in for Griese, who's out for the season after undergoing knee surgery.

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