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Establishing a Home-Field Edge Starts Early

The Redskins are 0-2 this preseason and not ready to go looking for the panic button. But so far Joe Gibbs, for one, doesn't like what he's been seeing.

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Gibbs questioned the effort of his players in Saturday night's 27-14 setback to the New York Jets, saying: "There's no reason we should play like that."

The loss in Cincinnati featured breakdowns in the defensive backfield which were for the most part corrected versus the Jets. On Week 2 of the preseason, though, special teams became a major issue.

For all of that, the key concern is the Redskins' style of play so far. Overall, they've been lethargic and overall pretty mediocre.

A key to their turnaround season of 2005 rested in the fact that the Redskins went 6-2 at home. They managed to serve notice on the rest of the league that FedExField is a tough place for visiting clubs.

That's why Saturday night's sleepwalk of an effort versus the Jets was so troubling. A visiting team came in and looked exceptionally comfortable from start to finish.

Even in the preseason games, you can begin to re-establish some sort of home-field edge. But not when you do little more than go through the motions, as the Redskins did on Saturday night.

Over the next 11 days, the Redskins have a chance to build up some momentum in time for their Sept. 11 opener versus Minnesota at FedExField.

Saturday evening's trip to New England is important in that regard, but the Aug. 31 outing when Baltimore comes to FedExField may be even more significant. Although it's Week 4 of the preseason, typically a non-descript occasion, it'll give the Redskins another shot to get something going at home and in front of their home crowd.

Otherwise, if they play with the same lack of passion they displayed against the Jets, the Redskins run the risk of having that 6-2 home field edge of 2005 become ancient history.

Said Gibbs: "Two weeks in a row, we just lost ballgames because we got outplayed. We have a long way to go. It's a sobering fact."

The first chance to show improvement will be on Saturday night against a New England team that is coming off a 30-3 win over Arizona and has managed to coax Junior Seau out of retirement.

Around the NFL, the Pats are seen by many as a model franchise. Maybe one of the lessons the Redskins can learn from New England is this: The Patriots dominated visiting Arizona and they'll be out to further establish an advantage at Gillette Stadium once again on Saturday evening. They know it can help when the regular season rolls around.

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