He needs to. Bledsoe's offensive line and running game are among the league's worst. He was sacked six times in each of New England's first two games and is on pace to be sacked 68 times this season. "My neck's a little sore," Bledsoe says. "But other than that, I feel fine."
He refuses to get dragged into a discussion about his future. "As football players, we are under evaluation every day he says. "Until I'm told I'm not the quarterback, I'm going to work every day to get us a championship. I believe I can win a championship with this franchise."
Johnson, Connell Go Long
Last Saturday night, 24 hours before the struggling Redskins would try again to live up to their great expectations, this time on the road against the undefeated and NFC East-leading Giants, wideout Irving Fryar looked worried. "We're pressing," Fryar, a 17-year veteran, said at the team hotel. "The fact that we haven't made big plays in the passing game is a reflection of how off we are offensively. Now we've got a chance to redeem ourselves. I'd say it's do-or-die."
On the other hand, the Washington player who had tire most at stake in Week 4 seemed awfully calm. "I guess it seems hard for people to realize this isn't killing me," said quarterback Brad Johnson, who was one lousy game from being benched for strong-armed backup Jeff George. "But they're not in my shoes. I feel good about myself. I feel good about our offense. I'm going to play the way I always play—loose and relaxed." Then he talked about coaching a youth basketball team and the traffic around the Meadowlands and how well he'd slept during the week.
In Washington's 1-2 start, Johnson didn't complete a pass of more than 26 yards; three games into last season he had connected on 11 such throws. The prospect of turning things around didn't look good. The Redskins' top wideout, Michael Westbrook, is out for the year with a left knee injury, and the Giants hadn't allowed a pass play longer than 31 yards in their first three games.
Early in the second quarter on Sunday, however, Johnson saw single coverage on third wideout James Thrash and connected for 46 yards. On the next play Johnson threw a 23-yard touchdown strike to Fryar. On the next series Johnson rainbowed a bomb to wideout Albert Connell for 48 yards, setting up a field goal. On the third play of the third quarter Johnson found Connell again, this time down the left sideline for a 53-yard completion. On the next play Johnson hooked up with receiver Andre Reed for a 21-yard touchdown. Washington won 16-6 as Johnson completed 14 of 20 passes for 289 yards.
"We finally found our rhythm," he said in the tunnel under Giants Stadium after the game. "We took advantage of single coverage and completed 70 percent of our passes. But we completed at least 60 percent of the throws in the first three games too. We haven't been missing everything."
Connell, who had four catches for 122 yards, was vital to the air attack on Sunday. Give passing game coordinator Terry Robiskie an assist. Shaken by two big drops in the first three weeks, Connell was summoned to a special film session last week by Robiskie, who had spliced tape of Connell receptions between highlights taken from the 15-catch performance by the Jaguars' Jimmy Smith on Sept. 10 at Baltimore. Robiskie considers Connell and Smith to be similar players. "Watch him put the fear of God into the DBs," Robiskie told Connell. "You can do that Just watch."
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