Thursday, September 14, 2006

Week 2 - Recovering (Vol. 5)

It has taken me nearly 72 hours to return to a proper state of mind after Monday's horrific loss.

Week 1 was painful for all of us, especially for the four SkinsServers who were there in person.

I didn't want to write anything until all remnants of Debbie Downer were out of me, and now I think she's all gone. I am ready to move forward only thinking positive thoughts (at least I am 93.9% ready). I hope you guys are ready also.


I am going to break this email down into two sections: the good and the bad. Please note that "the bad" section will only refer to things that we can improve upon (remember -we are going to try and keep things positive around here).



1) Portis - CP not only played Monday night, but he looked good. I think he appeared a bit hesitant to push himself in the first quarter, but by the second half appeared to be hitting holes quickly and unafraid to take hits. It was great to see CP in the end zone, and the Redskins add a another level of quickness when he is in the game. Ladell Betts was competent, but there was a stark contrast in the Skins running game once CP entered the building.


2) Randle El - Gibbs and the entire front office got bashed for making this signing, but Randle El proved the critics wrong by having a stellar start at both the WR and PR positions. Randle El was the fastest man on the field by far and had a very easy time getting open on pass routes and finding running lanes on his punt returns. Additionally, when a towering punt is in the air, you need not worry about a muff from the former Indiana point guard (poo poo poo).


3) Brunell - You all might not agree with me on this one, but I had no complaints about our QB. He didn't do anything great, but he didn't do anything bad either. Brunell seemed to have zip on his passes, and he even was able to allude the pass rush on a couple of occasions. Lets hope the coaching staff puts a little more trust in him this week and lets him throw the ball down field (we'll get to that soon).


4) Frost - After a weak kick-off and a weak punt in the first quarter, DFrost seemed to break the jitters and play a nice game. After the first, all of Frost's kickoffs landed inside the 5 and his punts travelled a much greater distance. Late in the fourth, Frost put a punt inside the 5 - a good sign from a guy who is a shank-artist in the clutch.


Ok. I pushing it now. Can't think of anything else.


The Bad (where do I start?)

1) The Secondary - Carlos Rogers and Kenny Wright were a joke on man-to-man coverage, Peirson Prielou went down on with a fluke injury during the opening kickoff and Mike Rumph looks like the defensive equivalent of Taylor Jacobs (fair trade, eh?). In terms of improvement, the good news is I don't think they can get any worse. Adam Archuletta, who was a ghost Monday night, will have three more days to get a hang of Williams system (which he is still not 40% on) and the Redskins will play a lot more zone against TO and Glenn to prevent too much exposure in man coverage. Let's pray it works. The Redskins also re-signed safety Curry Burns to replace PP on the roster - Burns, who was in camp this summer, might be thrown right into the action Sunday night b/c of the Skins depth issues. It also doesn't appear that Shawn Springs will be suited up again this week as he is still nursing his abdomen injury. Springs did some light jogging yesterday - but hasn't participated in practice. I wouldn't expect a big change in the secondary's performance this week, but I do think they will give much more respect to the Cowgirls passing offense then they did to the Vikings. I also think we'll see a monster game for Sean Taylor -- this guy lives for hurting prima-donna wideouts and he's going to want to spoil TO's Texas Stadium debut.


2) The Play-Calling - It is possible you guys saw something different on TV, but all I saw was the 2004 Redskins. I don't know if it a trust issue with Brunell, or if Brunell isn't familiar with the offense yet, or if Al Saunders isn't dipping into his well of plays, but the bottom line is that the Skins offense was futile in the second half. On critical possessions and critical downs the Redskins refused to look up field for answers, but instead opted for dump-downs, screen-passes and quick hitches and slants. The conservative play calling was extremely disconcerting because the Redskins have so much speed at receiver and don't have a problem getting open. The Redskins Offense doesn't have an identity either, as Saunders didn't commit to running the football or throwing it down field - Monday's play calling was just a hobglob (is that a word?) of nothing. It seems to me that the Skins need to establish something early to set something up late - whether it be pass first or run first. Saunders and the Redskins offense didn't establish anything. If I had to blame Monday's loss on anything, it would be this. It might take another Santana Claus miracle before Saunders realizes that ole' man #8 can heave the ball. One last point - Brunell threw at Brandon Lloyd twice the entire game. Maybe he was never open, but I doubt that. This pattern will need to change very quickly or else safeties will start drifting toward 89 the way they did at the end of last year.


2a) 16-9 - That is the difference in game one scoring output from last year to this year. As the Redskins showed on about three drives, they are well ahead of their early offensive performance from 2005. The Skins were able to utilize a lot of motion and find openings in the defense to move the ball up field on occasion, but even in those circumstances they eventually stalled in the red zone. There is no question the offense is a work in progress - as both the players and coaches are going to take time to learn each other. I think it is a shame that the Skins didn't ride the momentum of last year's last 5 regular season games, but the reality is that Al Saunders does produce powerful offenses, and it will take time for this thing to gel. How long it will take to gel is an extremely scary question to answer.


3) The Pass Rush - The Skins front 4 didn't look much different than it has over the past couple of years. Here's the hope: the Vikings will probably end up having one of the best o-lines in the league. The Redskins should have a much easier time getting at the QBs when they face Dallas, NY and Philly. Also - Gregg Williams couldn't blitz Monday night because he needed to keep the safeties back to help out the weak corners - another reason why Johnson had so much time in the pocket. Until the Skins can show they can cover the outside, don't expect much pressure on the QB. This means, of course, that after many seconds in the pocket the Drew Bledsoe's of the world will eventually find an open man. It is a viscous cycle. Let's hope Springs comes back fast. One more thing - Rynaldo Wynn will play Sunday night - but he is more of a run-stopper than pass-rushing specialist.


4) Gregg Williams - I know the 2-million dollar man didn't have much to work with, but when Brad Johnson is throwing the ball with ease throughout the first half, you'd hope your D-Coordinator would make halftime adjustments - He didn't. But again, we cannot doubt Williams. The Skins defense, even with an array of injuries over the past three years, have continually been in the NFL's top-10. This group will improve as the season goes on.


5) The Cowboys - I had this one marked down as a loss before the season, and from what I saw Monday night, I am not going to revise my prediction. The Boys home opener after a loss, TOs grand entrance, the revenge factor - things don't add up for us. The Skins need a couple of things to happen if they want to have a chance. 1) They get to Bledoe and create turnovers - the Skins didn't come up with one turnover Monday night and if they can take a couple away early, the whole complexion of the game changes. 2) Trickery  - there is a reason they signed Randle El. Points will be at a premium, so why not do something funky and get quick points on the board. 3) Portis - We still haven't seen what can happen when the Skins establish the run early - maybe if they do, they'll be able to open more down field opportunities. 4) Carlos - this boy needs to find himself in a hurry or else it will be a 1994-like spanking.


Note: The Skins signed TE Todd Yoder and cut Nemo Broughton.


Alright, a little too much negative for my liking. I'm gonna take a three-day deep breath and check in on Sunday. My parting shot is this: my sadness this week didn't stem from the fact that the Skins lost to the Vikings on Monday, my sadness was due to the fact that I didn't see a Super Bowl team out on the field. My grand dreams of a 45-0 Detroit Lions-type slaughtering didn't come into fruition, and the Redskins were brought down by the same things that have hampered them since Gibbs' arrival. The good news is that we are only in week 2, and the Skins still have the chance to become the offensive machine of our dreams. If they blossom by Week 5 - we could still march down 95 to Miami, if they blossom in week 10 - it will be much too late.





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