Labriola on the Redskins

LANDOVER, Md. – It's really the good news and the bad news all rolled into one.

The Steelers are 0-1 in this preseason after losing, 16-7, to the Washington Redskins here on Friday night, and the reason all of that is true is because they weren't ready to play.

Mostly, the "weren't ready to play" label is one worn with a good deal of shame by NFL teams, because it often reflects poorly on things like professionalism, desire and teamwork. Preparation is a big part of success in the NFL, and ignoring that aspect of the job leads to precisely the kind of result that was presented to you in living color from FedEx Field.

Redskins quarterbacks Rex Grossman and Kellen Clemens seemed to operate with impunity, safe from a pass rush that managed no sacks and undeterred by coverage that never got beyond tackling the catch. The run defense was just as leaky, with the Redskins finishing with three plays of 15-plus yards and 140 total on 35 attempts.

Flip it around, and the Steelers offense was prevented from developing any real rhythm because it couldn't protect its quarterbacks, and with the exception of Isaac Redman's 42 yards on five carries, Pittsburgh's tailbacks combined for 24 yards on 11 attempts.

Had this outcome been achieved in this fashion during the regular season, the gloom-and-doom it precipitated would have to be dealt with in a more serious manner than much of the angst that's sure to be flowing through cyberspace over a loss on Aug. 12.

The Steelers weren't ready to play against the Redskins, because there was no effort made to prepare to play the Redskins. Mike Tomlin doesn't believe in handling the preseason opener that way, and it only makes sense that if the Steelers had prepared for this game in typical fashion the players would have been better able to deal with many of the things the Redskins threw at them.

But in August football, these things happen. Young, inexperienced guys get most of the playing time in the summer, and typically what they show on the field proves they indeed are both young and inexperienced.

The NFL calendar calls for three more weeks of the preseason, and so there will be more situations like this for the Steelers in the immediate future before the regular season opens on Sept. 11. So please, worry responsibly.

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