WASHINGTON -- The Washington Redskins need a new offense before they need a new stadium.
The Redskins offense coughed and sputtered like an old Model-T yesterday in a game that was a throwback to the days when Model-T's were on the roads instead of in museums.
The Redskins were held to seven first downs, 150 yards -- 50 on a trick play -- and zero points in an embarrassing, 3-0 loss to the New York Jets before 47,970 booing fans at RFK Stadium.
Even a change in quarterbacks from Rich Gannon to Mark Rypien in the fourth quarter didn't make any difference as the Redskins (3-10) were left wondering what happened to a team that won the Super Bowl just two years ago. Coordinator Rod Dowhower can't seem to get the offense rolling.
"I wish I had more answers," said Gannon, who became the third quarterback that coach Richie Petitbon has benched this year in a futile attempt to spark the offense.
"I don't know. I wish I knew the answers," said wide receiver Tim McGee, who had only one catch for 11 yards in limited action.
Running back Brian Mitchell, whose halfback pass to Ricky Sanders went for 50 yards in the second quarter and accounted for one-third of the Redskins' offensive total, said, "We really couldn't get it going. I don't know what the problem is."
Petitbon said: "If you don't make plays, you're not going to score and we certainly didn't today."
How long has it been since the Redskins played a 3-0 game?
Would you believe 52 years?
It happened in 1941, when they beat the Brooklyn Dodgers at old Griffith Stadium by that score. The Jets, who were founded in 1960, had never played a 3-0 game.
The score was actually deceiving because the Jets dominated, controlling the ball for 41 minutes and piling up twice as many yards (308) as the Redskins.
But the Jets kept it close by tripping over their own feet. Fred Baxter dropped a touchdown pass and the Jets botched two field-goal attempts.
Cary Blanchard made a 27-yard attempt at the end of the first half only to have it nullified by a delay-of-game penalty.
They lined up again on the 32-yard line and this time center Roger Duffy's snap bounced off the helmet of holder Louie Aguiar. Perfect football follies material.
It was that kind of game. In a communication mix-up, Duffy snapped it before Aguiar was ready.
The Jets seemed content to pound the ball on the ground. Johnny Johnson ran 32 times for 155 yards and quarterback Boomer Esiason completed only 12 passes for 105 yards.
In one 16-minute stretch, the last 7:25 of the second quarter and the first 8:51 of the third quarter, the Jets had the ball for all but one play -- Gannon's kneel-down on the final play of the first half.
Yet they couldn't translate all that field position into any points. Blanchard's 45-yard field goal at the end of their first possession late in the first quarter accounted for the game's only scoring.
The Jets have scored 15 points in the past three games -- just five field goals -- and won two. They're still in the playoff race at 8-5.
Jets coach Bruce Coslet wasn't willing to call it winning ugly.
"I thought it was real pretty," he said. "I'll take it."
Coslet called it "northeastern football" because it was played outdoors in chilly weather in December, but it was also bad football in any weather.
The Redskins were so inept they couldn't take advantage of the Jets' mistakes. The closest they got to scoring was a 47-yard field-goal attempt by Chip Lohmiller in the second quarter.
"Good snap, good hold, the wind just took it a little left," said special teams coach Wayne Sevier.
It has been that kind of season for the Redskins.
"It's strange to say the least, it's very frustrating," said linebacker Carl Banks. "I'm saying that from a team standpoint. You can't take sides and say we did our job. We're all losing together."
It was the first time the Redskins were shut out since the 1986 NFC title game against the the New York Giants, 17-0. It was the first time they were whitewashed at home since it happened twice in 1980.
They went 6-10 that year and coach Jack Pardee was fired.
Even though Petitbon is in his first season, he has to be worrying about his job. But the players seem to be in his corner.
"The guys love playing for Richie," said defensive lineman Jason Buck.
Defensive back Darrell Green said: "You listen to those talk shows all the time, those are dreamers and couch potatoes. This is real life. This is a man's job. There's no realistic indication that I have seen, heard or sensed or any other word I can use, to say he'll lose his job. To top that, I don't see any reason why he should lose his job. I respect Rich Petitbon. My vote is simple and plain, the man is a great coach."
Petitbon's next decision will be whether to go with Rypien or Gannon as his starter next Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons. He said after the game he'll make up his mind during the week.
Gannon, who was yanked after completing seven of 15 passes for 62 yards, said, "I just tried to go out and do the best I could. I don't look over my shoulder."
Rypien completed two of eight passes for 17 yards in three fourth-quarter possessions. His last pass -- on a fourth-and-three play at the Jets' 45 -- was batted down by defensive end Jeff Lageman. Rypien declined to comment after the game.
For the Redskins, changing quarterbacks once again couldn't change a frustrating season. Green said it was more of the same.
"It's frustrating, but at what point was it frustrating? It was frustrating weeks ago," he said. "I don't think it can go to another low. When you're losing, you're losing [whether it's] 3-zip or 25-1. We're down, but this frustration is just like the last bad frustration. It's not fun."