A win's a win, right? Not so fast. Although the Skins 30-16 trouncing of the Texans looked great on paper, you must really be prudent before drawing any optimistic conclusions. Let's go with the bad stuff first:
1) Brunell - 22 for 22 is good no matter how you dissect it, but please understand that Brunell didn't make more than 2 passes that travelled over 20 yards in the air. The old man was able to get the "dink and dunk" down, but it remains to be seen if he can get the ball down field on anyone, let alone the worthless Texans.
2) Pressure - The Texans offensive line is pathetic. David Carr has hit the deck more than any other NFL QB over the past two years, yet the Skins only managed to get a half a sack on him from their front four. I can't imagine how affective the front four will be against a better Jaguars protection unit. The only good news is the Joe Salavae will return from a calf injury this Sunday, although I am starting to think rookie Kedrick Golston might be a better option then Samoa Joe.
3) The Secondary - Although the secondary settled down in the second half, the Skins were burned for another big play to start the game. They got caught in a weak zone coverage in which, you guessed it, Adam Archuletta was in the wrong spot. Identical to the Terry Glenn TD of two weeks ago, Sean Taylor had to come all the way over from the weak side to cover, but it was already too late, and this time it was Andre Johnson who scored 6 on a 50-yd TD. Kenny Wright did look good on his interception to end the game, but the Skins, who will be without Shaun Springs again this week, will have a very hard time coping with Jacksonville's three receiver sets featuring Matt Jones, Ernest Wilford and Reggie Williams - all of whom are capable of making the big play. Another concern is how diminutive the Skins secondary is with Mike Rumph, Carlos Rogers and Wright all being under 6'2", while the Jags trio all being above 6'4". This could create some serious issues for the secondary, who will be particularly vulnerable in the red zone.
Ok...the good news:
1) Dolla Bill is Back!!! - Here's a crazy thought to start us off: I think Portis is improving with every game. Did you realize that he only started playing Running Back his freshman year at Miami? In HS he was a defensive back, which means he has only being playing the position for 7 years (he left Miami after three years). Portis, who did not even where his protective sling on Sunday, looked very sharp, making some amazing cut-backs and hitting holes better than I have ever seen him do it. Portis also showed great patience, as he waited behind blockers until holes were formed - something he had trouble doing his first year and a half in DC. Portis also was great catching out of the backfield. He changed the game's momentum when he broke free for his 70 yard shovel pass. If he would have been in better playing shape, that is definitely a touchdown. CP's presence on the field will force defense to commit more to the run; hopefully we will see that manifest in big passing plays very soon. Despite how good CP was last week, the Jags are monsters against the run, limiting opposing RBs to 3.2 YPC. Portis is going to have to be a workhorse this week, earning every yard afforded to him.
2) Wideouts - The Redskins actually used them against the Texans! Brunell distributed the ball widely last week, something else opposing defenses will have to consider when gameplanning for the Skins. Brunell got eight different receivers involved last week, including Brandon Lloyd, who had been MIA the past two weeks. The hope is that all the dink and dunk will draw opposing secondaries closer to the line of scrimmage - that's when Saunders and Gibbs will finally be able to take their shots downfield. The Jaguars secondary is loaded though, so don't be surprised if Brunell plays it very safe. Mathis and Cousin pose as big threats to pick Brunell, so we are going to have to wait a another week before we see tons of balls to Moss and Lloyd. Look for Randle El and Portis to get the bulk of the receiving work - they'll be asked to turn 5 yard flat plays into first downs.
Injuries (This is the Issues Part)
1) Brunell - Crazy as it might seem, Todd Collins could end up getting the start this week. The Redskins have been downplaying the gash on Brunell's elbow, an injury he suffered late in the game on Sunday, but the starting QB didn't practice yesterday and of what I have heard, only did light drills today. Brunell received three stitches for the gash and had his elbow totally wrapped up to the point of immobility yesterday. Today Brunell had a much lighter wrap and was able to do some things in practice. What's interesting to note is that Brunell suffered the same injury with Jacksonville, an injury that ended up giving Byron Leftwich the starting job. Now remember how Gibbs said Campbell would start if Brunell didn't practice the week leading up to the game? Well apparently he trusts Campbell as much as he did Ramsey, because Collins, not Campbell, took the snaps with the starters yesterday. Gibbs excuse for the confusion was that Brunell is still slated to start so it wouldn't be a circumstance for Campbell to practice with the first team. Sounds fishy. Brunell said he's "day to day," which isn't a real good sign considering the game is in 2.5 days. I guess it's pick your poison - not sure I want any of the three going out there.
2)Springs - I think this is the most devastating injury to a team in all of football this season and things aren't looking better. Springs went back to the surgeon in Philly who did his procedure (never a good sign) but was told that there weren't any further complications. Springs was told that he just needs to get over the strained groin he got last week. The Post's Redskins Insider says its going to be at least another two weeks (which means week 6 v. the Titans), but it could be longer if he doesn't heal properly. The Skins need Springs for the Gregg Williams scheme to work - they could end up getting torched through the air in three of the next four games (Jags, Giants, Colts) if he doesn't return. It is really time to get anxious over this one.
This is by far the biggest game the Skins have this year; a loss puts them way behind with a tough upcoming schedule, but a win puts them in the middle of the pack in the NFC. I hate to say it, but if Brunell doesn't play then the Jags will blitz whoever is behind center and you can pretty much stick a fork in us, and start your pre-fast dinner an hour earlier then you planned. If Brunell does play, things could be a little more exciting.
The Jaguars offense has been shaky, but it did show signs of life last week in Indy with rookie Maurice Jone-Drew going for 244 all-purpose yards. Jones could wreak havoc for the Skins defense, as they have been susceptible to runners who hit the outsides quickly likes Jones-Drew does. The Skins defense would much rather face a north-south attack led by Fred Taylor, but Jones-Drew will probably see enough action to give the front 7 fits. Besides the reinvigortated running attack, the Skins are also going to have to figure out how to stop the Jags three receiver sets as discussed above. On a positive note, Leftwich isn't a mobile QB, so the Skins don't have to be worried about getting burned too bad outside the pocket.
On offense, points will be at a minimum. Remember last year when the Skins put up 52 on the Niners and then laid an egg the next week at the Meadowlands? I think we might see something very similar to that. Gibbs and Saunders are going to play this one super conservative because they know it will be a tight game, so expect a heavy dose of Portis and not much else. When they aren't running CP, the Skins, who will be desperate to get any points on the board against the stingy Jags D, will finally use ARL this week in a trick play as the offense if going to go deep into the bag of tricks to get 7 on the board (but that will probably be it).
This game is going to be ugly and stressful. Tons of three and outs on both sides and not much else. John Hall is the x-factor, if he makes some long kicks then the Skins have a chance, and if he misses the big ones then we are looking at 1-3 going to NY.
Stuff and Things
-Chris Cooley got sick of his hair so his girlfriend cut it off. Maybe he'll start making plays now.
-Brandon Lloyd broadcasts Monday night's on Redskins Radio live from the Skins store in Tysons. If anyone wants to go with me in the next few weeks, I think it's worth the field trip.
- No more Dolla Bill, for now. Apparently the dude who encouraged CP to dress up every week is no longer with the Skins, so Portis doesn't have the motivation or inspiration to get into character. This is probably the worst news out of Redskins Park all week.
Please do everything you can to make sure the Skins win this week. If they do, we can actually start having a little fun again (or at least until they get crunched by the Giants next week).