For power, porousness, team's in league of own; Living life at extremes leaving coaches uneasy; Redskins notebook


Is it more frightening that Washington Redskins coach Norv Turner says his offense can still improve or that he truly believes his defense can turn around without any personnel changes?

Turner will have nearly two weeks to mull things over after the Redskins (3-1) ushered in their bye week with a 38-36 victory over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

The Redskins have racked up 150 points in four games -- a staggering 37.5-point average -- numbers that can only be threatened by their opponents, who have registered 118 points (29.5).

It's a high-scoring daily double for the Redskins, owners of the NFL's top offense and the worst defense.

"Yes, we have been living dangerously," Turner said. "But we know the areas we need to improve and address."

Namely, eliminating big plays. Of the 15 touchdowns allowed by the Redskins, five have been on plays of 30 yards or more.

"We've got our week cut out for us," defensive coordinator Mike Nolan said.

Carolina entered the game with 872 yards of total offense in three games but compiled 483 against the Redskins. The Panthers, Cowboys and Giants each have posted season-best point totals against the Redskins.

It's the first time that a team has had the league's top offense and worst defense since the New England Patriots in Week 6 of the 1994 season.

"As long as we win, I don't care how we do it," cornerback Darrell Green said. "We have three wins. You can have the stats. Ask Marco Coleman [defensive end who played for 5-11 San Diego last season]. They led the league in defense and how many wins did they have?"

Stat of the week

Against Carolina, the Redskins scored 28 points in an 11-minute span of the second quarter. That spurt bettered the total output of all but three teams Sunday.

Making an impact

Redskins quarterback Brad Johnson didn't disappoint his hometown fans in Black Mountain, N.C.

He threw for 337 yards and tied a career best with four touchdown passes, rallying the Redskins past Carolina with a 69-yard drive that set up Brett Conway's game-winning field goal.

It was Johnson's seventh fourth-quarter comeback in his eight-year career and his second in two weeks for the Redskins. He also has not thrown an interception in 122 pass attempts, surpassing his previous best string of 109 in 1997.

"Those are the moments you live for," said Johnson, who raised his record as a starter to 18-9.

Seizing the moment

Irving Fryar had only one wish when presented with a cake Wednesday, celebrating his 37th birthday.

"I want five catches this week," Fryar said before blowing out the candles.

He fell little short with two catches for 23 yards, but both receptions came during the game-winning drive.

"It's a different mind-set," said Fryar, the NFL's seventh all-time leader in receptions, who is now the team's third-down receiver. "You have to be ready and when you get the opportunity to make a play, you have to do it."

Coming on strong

If the club ever did bow to politically correct wishes, maybe team officials should consider calling the team the Rally-skins. Yes, it's a joke, but it would fit their recent play.

In their past six victories, the Redskins have come back in the fourth quarter four times. It's a complete reversal of fortune for Turner, who only recovered from one fourth-quarter deficit in his first four years as coach.

Pub Date: 10/05/99

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