Monday, October 08, 2007

“High-Powered” Redskins Win 34 - 3 “Shootout” vs. Lions

If I had to hear one more time about the Lions “high-powered” offense in another pre-game show, or read it in another newspaper, I would have burst a blood vessel. If I had a buck for every analyst who said the Redskins could only win this game in a shootout if they could just manage to stay close, I’d be a lot wealthier today. No one wanted to talk about the quality of the Redskins yesterday. They only wanted to talk about the quality of the Lions.

The D
Well, well, well. For two and half games the Redskin defense had been as dominating as I expected, but all of the naysayers came out after the loss to the Giants and concluded that the Skins’ D was not as good as it appeared in the first two wins. What game were they watching?

The Redskins defense spent most of the second half on the field against the Giants because the Redskins offense only got one first down prior to their last possession. Their first three possessions in the second half were threes-and-out. The Giants did not expose a flaw in the Skins’ D, they exposed the growing pangs that the Redskins had to go through with a quarterback who only had nine starts under his belt. But yesterday, clearly, the Redskins proved that they do have a dominating defense, maybe the best in the Conference, and they may have proved that Jason Campbell is all grown up.

The Lions came into the game with the NFL’s top-rated passing offense. They were averaging 313 yards per game in the air and were scoring 28.5 points per game. Yesterday, the Redskin defense held the Lions to 76-yards passing (144 overall) and three points. They sacked Kitna five times including one for a safety. They forced four fumbles, but the Lions miraculously managed to recover every one of them including one in which the call on the field was that the Redskins’ Rocky McIntosh recovered the fumble. The turnover was overturned on replay when the ball was ruled out of bounds on the old “electricity” rule. The ball was in bounds, but leaning against McIntosh’s leg when McIntosh’s hand was out of bounds. There were also some penalties that erased big Redskins plays. The score was not as close as the scoreboard suggested.

On top of it all, Sean Taylor and LaRon Landry kept knocking Lions players out of the game with punishing hits. Look for Taylor’s block on James Thrash’s big punt return on ESPN tonight.

So, with one-quarter of the season completed, let’s recap the defensive effort for the season using the notion that if the defense keeps the other team out of the end zone, they have pitched a shutout.

The D gave up one touchdown in the first game against the Dolphins when the Dolphins—down by three-points with four seconds left in the first half—went for a TD on fourth down from the five yard line. If there were 1000 chances to call a play in that spot, professional football coaches would call for the field goal unit 999 times out of 1000. That was a virtual shutout for the D and I am counting it as a shutout.

It was a veritable shutout for the D the next week versus the Eagles in Philadelphia when they kept the Eagles out of the end zone. By the way, the Eagles found the end zone EIGHT times the following week.

The D recorded a shutout in the first half against the Giants when the Redskins moved the ball on offense. Then the Giants scored three TDs in the second half.

Finally, The D recorded a shutout yesterday. That’s fourteen shutout quarters in sixteen quarters of football.

Championship Depth
The team has been decimated by injuries but has proved that it has a lot of depth; championship-quality depth. Their number one wide receiver Santana Moss did not play yesterday. Antwaan Randle El took over the number one spot and caught seven passes for 100 yards in the first half. He injured his leg late in the first half and did not return. James Thrash then became the number one wide receiver, followed by Keenan McCardell whom they signed on Monday and Reche Caldwell whom they signed last week. It did not matter one bit as Campbell continued to show great poise and check down to whoever was open.

Campbell had time to check down because he was not sacked and was hardly ever hurried. He was protected despite missing two starters on the right side of the offensive line and having a third O-line starter who just joined the team on August 24. That’s depth.

Campbell easily had his best day as a pro completing over 79% of his passes for an 8.6 yards per attempt average, with two TDs and no picks. But it wasn’t his numbers but his sound judgment that impresses the most. He was almost flawless yesterday, and after the Giants game he showed the leadership of a veteran when he told everyone to calm down because they were 2 - 1 and in great shape. Maybe I underestimated him and how long it would take him to be a top QB in this league. I did not expect him to have the type of game like he had yesterday until week ten or so. That would have coincided with his sixteenth start, or one full year of games. Maybe he has already arrived. If so, my eleven-win prediction is too low. They already have the defense and running game for a deep run in the playoffs. If Campbell has already arrived, then we should expect home field throughout the playoffs.


At October 08, 2007 7:09 PM, Blogger Steve in TN said...

"They already have the defense and running game for a deep run in the playoffs."

Might want to slow down on this one...

First, the defense has plenty of speed in the back seven, and probably has the top safety duo in the NFL. However, the CBs are prone to injury, as are the best DLs and Marcus Washington at SLB. Detroit's OL is not the paragon of NFL pass blocking in any case (18 sacks before Sunday), nor do they run the ball well.

Second, the Skins' running game has not acquitted itself well enough to be considered a factor in a playoff run, much less home field through out the playoffs. Portis is averaging a pedestrian 4.1 per carry in his limited touches, and Betts is an awful 2.1 per carry.

This was a dominating win. It was just one win.

At October 10, 2007 3:02 AM, Blogger Counter Trey said...

The assessment that the Redskins already have the defense and running game for a deep run in the playoffs was certainly not based on one game. As I mentioned in previous posts, the Redskins have had a top-10 defense in every year that Williams has been defensive coordinator except last year; last year was a fluke due to injuries and some personnel mistakes.

In the offseason, they didn't just fix their two personnel mistakes, they brought in Pro Bowl caliber players with great attitudes to fix those mistakes, and once again, Williams has a top-10 defense. It is currently the best defense in the NFC in terms of yards AND points allowed.

As for Portis and Betts, you are incorrect there, too. Portis is averaging 4.5 yards per carry despite nursing a slight knee sprain, and Betts 2.7. If you think that Betts will have a 2.7 average per carry by the end of the year, I'd like to suggest a small wager.



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