Potomac Warriors,Today's Skins Serv has a special guest bloggers: Yair Rozmaryn. Yair is one of the foremost Redskins experts on the 95 corridor. I assure all Skins Servers that you're in great hands this week.
As for me, I plan to be back (badder than ever) next week. Just two quick points before I hand it over. 1) CP's injury is tragic. This guy was on an MVP-type roll and a grade 2 MCL Sprain is a major setback regardless of whether he suits up today. I'm totally depressed about this injury and you should be too. 2) Prediction. I got a hunch the Skins are gonna get spanked today. I think the defense has a hard time with all the Cowboys downfield stuff and the offense will be a no-show. Cowboys 31 Redskins 14.
Now to Yair.
This week's Skins' Serv may vary a bit from the previous weeks, months, year's editions, but I assure you everything you read will be uncut, uncensorred, and most of all unbiased (read very biased). I would also like to thank Amitai Passover Rozmaryn for his DeAngelo Hall piece this week. Maybe his parents named him Passover b/c his opinions on the Skins' organization has passed over logic & rational thought to complete lunacy. I don't know, I wasnt at the naming at his bris. But what I do know is that Ami is part of the Optomistic Squad of Skins fans, which makes up about 1% of the Skins nation, while I lie in the 99% side that would like nothing more than to see Cerrato & Snyder on a spit. So in this segment, there will obviously be lots of Skins negativity but at the same time a few worthy notes to be somewhat optimistic. I would also like to mention that I was asked to write this piece at 11am with no internet for research, so if it sucks I dont really care. Hopefully it doesn't :).
1) The Monday Night Debacle:
The Stadium / Fans - All week i've been reading Skins Post Columnists discuss the Steelers sellout at FedEx. Was it pathetic? Yes. Should we be embarressed? Yes. Should we kill ourselves? Maybe. But stop blaming the Skins FANS for the embarressment. Im looking at you Riggo. The Steelers are the #1 best traveled team in the NFL "http://sports.espn.go.com/
The Game Itself - We all knew going into the Steelers MNF game that it would be a physical, no-nonesense affair that we'd be happy to come out of alive and healthy, whether or not the W came with it. What we didn't expect was the embarressment that ensued for 4 hours in front of the national TV audience. In front of a 70,000 terrible towels, the Skins put on their worst performance since the Giant game in week one. I know what you're thinking, "but Ironhead, what about the Rams game??". No, this was far worse than the Rams game. The Rams game was more disappointing than anything else, but not embarressing. Boneheaded plays cost us that game but the possession and total yards was a one-sided affair in favor of the Skins. We feared this Steelers game may expose what many of us had a hunch about all along. This is a 9-7 team that has been overacheiving this entire year b/c of an overall downyear in the NFL. If you want to get a real guage for this team, it's somewhere b/w the 05' Skins team the last 5 weeks of the year, and the Skins team that faced the Pats in Foxboro last season. Who knows what we'll get week to week in terms of W's and L's but what is for sure is that the problems are more noticable than my receding hairline.
The Issues - Depth at WR - This is by far the biggest issue right now. Santana Moss is an all-world talent, but behind him there's nothing. To quote Boomin' with the Jdawg, "there's more garbage there than you can fit into a can". I've heard every excuse as to why ARE is underperforming this season from the playbook to where he lines up on the field, but the bottom line is, he's not getting it done. He gets no seperation at the line of scrimmage, he's no longer fast enough to beat his guy in man-to-man coverage, and he's scared to go across the middle and get hit. If you're scared to get hit, sit down rando. James Trash is just that, and behind them are the rookies, which brings me to my next gripe. The rookies Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly.
The Rookie WR's - After watching the Eagles / Giants game on Sunday night I am officially pissed off. I was thinking about this long and hard and I just can't get past it. DeSean Jackson is a flat out stud. Im not saying that we could have possibly known that Jackson thus far would be far superior to Thomas, but at the very least with our aging squad, wouldnt the team elect to pick a player that is the most "NFL Ready?" (most scouts compared him to Santana Moss, are we not happy with Santana?!?!) . DeSean Jackson had an excellent 3 years at Cal and was considered one of the most (if not the most) explosive playmaker in the country. On the other hand, Thomas played 1 full year of Division I Big 6 collegiate football, and while he played exceptionally well, was clearly a very raw prospect. Even if Thomas ends up being a stud, he's still not the player we needed to win with our current squad. If we had the depth at WR that the Giants do, and then we were debating b/w Jackson or Thomas, this would make sense. But we weren't and for the last 4 years we've been searching for a 2nd receiver that can help us NOW. Maybe we thought we had that player in Malcolm Kelly, but if other teams saw the big red flag with his knee, than why couldnt the Skins? DeSean Jackson, Eddie Royal, Donnie Avery, Josh Morgan, the list goes on. JLC told me this week that the reason Snyder wanted Thomas was b/c he is represented by Drew Rosenhaus and as we all know they are b-f-f-a-e. This just makes no sense and makes me so angry. If nobody else has realized this we are a DeSean Jackson away from being a serious super bowl contender. He would have been a perfect #2 receiver and an excellent punt returner. Damnit!!
Tryon / Torrence - A big deal has been made over Leigh Torrence's release last week to make room for DeAngelo Hall. I'm not going to discuss DeAngelo Hall with you right now, but I will say this. Leigh Torrance was a liability. He was a liability with his mouth and he was a liability in his defensive coverage. What he wasnt a liability with was his special teams work. From JLC on Friday...
"Jim Zorn spoke today about how difficult it was for special teams coach Danny Smith to waive corner Leigh Torrence last week, and said the team realizes what a daunting task it will be to replace him there. In the end, it's likely to take multiple players to supply what Torrence, claimed by New Orleans on waivers, gave the team. Smith addressed special teams players about Torrence's departure at a meeting Monday, players said, with everyone in the room realizing that it was a significant blow. He told the players that rookie corner Justin Tryon and rookie wide receiver Devin Thomas are likely going to have to assume more duties now."
Umm...then why did they let him go? It will take "multiple players to replace him?" "significant blow". This wasnt an injury, they cut him! Justin Tryon isn't exactly a first-round pick playing poorly. He's a later round pick, that has been seen twice so far. In the pre-season getting burned over and over and running into Randle-El on a punt return in the Rams game. That's it. What exactly are we clinging onto? I understand, Tryon is a rook so maybe we should give him a few more strikes. So than why not cut Jason Fabini? He doesnt add "depth" hes just another body that can be replaced with no dropoff by Wade, Lorenzo Alexander, Heyer....etc etc. I dont get it.
The O-line - I'd like to thank Jon Jansen for bringing to my attention that while some o-lineman are excellent run blockers they may also be at the same time horrible in pass protection. I really never knew that. I thought maybe one is sometimes stronger than the other, but I didnt know that the discrepency could be that big. With CP hobbling 1/2 the game last week and Zorn deciding in the 2nd quarter to abandon the run, the Skins offense stalled. This is very concerning and a possible re-occuring theme for the remainder of the season. With Samuels at 70%, Jansen's inability to pass protect, and Heyer's inability to run block, we could be looking at a lesser version of last year's o-line mess. Heck, while Kendall's been great in in-game action, he cant even make it on the practice field any week to work with the team. With a hurting CP now, we could be looking at the mess magnified 10 fold. For all the hype after the draft about Chad Rinehart's smooth transition to the similar blocking scheme the Skins use, where is the news/notes on his progress? There is none and that's why the ol fart backups are still around. The O-Line is the oldest part of the team and as the season wears on will likely wear down at a much faster rate than any other position, which is a huge problem in the later part of the year against great D-Line's with Dallas, Philly, the Giants, and the Ravens still ahead. This is a situation that should be closely watched in the remaining weeks and it will be interesting to see what adjustments Buges can make.
The Defense - With all the turmoil on offense, isn't it such a warm and fuzzy feeling having such a potentially great defense? I truely believe we have the potential to be the 2006 Chicago Bears. If Hall is all that and a big of cheddar cheese & onion baked lays chips than we may have the most dominant defense in the league. Of course getting to the QB may be an issue, but who knows...if Carter can right his season and Taylor / Evans can step up, this D could be top 3. I wanted to give Evans a big yashar ko'ach for his performance monday night vs. the Steelers. Thank you for being the only player that came to play. Back to the secondary. Nobody in the league has a better secondary. Landry, Horton, Spring, Rogers, Hall, and Smoot. Wow. The talent and depth are there and there's no reason to think that it wont be for the rest of the year, and years to come. Aside from Springs, only Smoot is over 25 years old and he's still a young buck. If Rogers could catch a ball, it makes you wonder what this team's record would be...7-2? 8-1? I dont know but a good amount better. Lets hope this defense carries us the same way the Ravens and Bears defense carried them to the super bowl in 2000 & 2006. Amen.
DeAngelo Hall - Ok. So it's looking like September's promise of a ball hawking defense hasn't exactly panned out. Our secondary's exciting 5 picks in the first 4 games has turned into a depressing 5 picks in 9 games. The Redskins are in dire need to start creating short fields for the offense. To this end the front office picked up newly available CB Deangelo Hall. Not too confident about the prospects of bringing in the Raiders' garbage to enhance our secondary? Here's some stats. Since Hall's second year in '05 he would have lead the Skins in INTs every year. In that same time period he caught more balls than all Redskin's CBs combined. He'll get picks. And maybe he'll give Carlos some tips while he's there. Hall brings some baggage along with his hands. He reportedly didn't get along with the ownership and coaching staff in Oakland which, along with his hefty salary, precipitated his release (same as in Altlanta). The Redskins are gambling that Hall will reward them with the turnovers they so desperately need without tearing apart the locker room. That's is pretty much all they risk as they signed him for the year for dirt cheap and have the personnel to play him mostly when they need to. Plus, he knows how to get under TO's skin, which is always a good start.
Onto the Cowboys:
Even with the recent mess in Big D, the Cowboys are still a very dangerous team that is all of a sudden healthy and rested. This is a very scary game. At 5-4 and 3rd in the NFC East, Dallas knows tonight's game is a must-win. With Romo's idi-widdy-pinkie feeling a bit better, Felix Jones back from injury, Terrance Newman back, and 1 week of rest, the Dallas team looks as daunting as it did in week 5. Then again, we won week 5. Logic in this situation suggests that since the Redskins have a better record, beat Dallas in Dallas, are playing the a Cowboys team worse than the one they beat, and are at home where we havent lost to Dallas since 2004, we should win. The Redskins should be fine then, right? Maybe...but most likely, Maybe not. I know, you know, vegas knows, my booba knows, and the Skins know that this Cowboys team will be ready to play tonight and if the Skins dont bring their A-game this will look more like the Steelers game monday night the the game back in Big D.
The Defensive Gameplan - Stopping Romo - The Redskins know Marion Barber well. He's a tough physical runner that makes great cuts and cant beat you coming out of the backfield as a receiver. But Marion Barber hasnt hurt them, and shouldnt hurt them in this game either. No team in the league has stuffed Barber the way the Skins have in the last 2 years. For whatever reason, we own the dude. We have excellent run stopping DT's in Gholston, Griffin, and Montgomery, with Evans shielding the edge. The player of concern is Tony Romo. Dallas averaged 29.2 points with Romo at quarterback, but scored 14, 13 and 14 in the three games he missed. Exclusing Romo's last trip to FedEx where he played 1 half of the game in week 17 with no T.O., Romo has thrown for almost 600 yards with 7 touchdowns and 2 interceptions in 2 games. He's a nightmare to handle as he makes excellent decisions, crisp accurate throws, and he's very unpredictable. The Redskins D needs to try and do much of what the did to somewhat contain him last game. Show him alot of different formations and packages and try to throw him off guard. Send the safeties all over the field and use the linebackers to disguise it. Last game it worked very well, with Horton coming up with a big pick, and lots of important defensive stops by Fletcher. What the Skins can't do at any point is play a prevent defense. This killed them on 2 possessions last game against Dallas, one before the half, and the other mid-4th quarter, both of which resulted in long-sustained touchdown drives for dallas. The pressure will be on the D-Line to get to Romo to try and force him into hurried throws. He's not easily rattled so a few hard shots could set the tone early.
The Offensive Gameplan - Move the ball any way possible. Dallas is 18th in the League against the run and 11th in the league against the pass. I still believe the way to beat this team is to control the clock, run the ball, and let the defense make a few plays, even though the who task is daunting without the services of 26. Thats the way we've been successful so far, lets stick with that. The Offense is going to need to free up bigger holes than usual as Betts isnt the player CP is, but seems to run well between the tackles. Control of the line of scrimmage will give us a big advantage in Time of Possession. The Top 5 teams in time of possession this season are the Titans, Giants, Cardinals, Redskins, and Steelers. It's no wonder all of those teams are 6-3 or better. Betts and Alexander will be asked to do more than they can imagine both running and blocking, so lets pray they are up to the task. As for the passing game, Santana has been eating up Dallas D ever since he put on a Skins uni. Doesn't matter who the QB has been, Brunell, Collins, Campbell, doesnt matter if there was double coverage with a safety over top, Santana has killed Dallas. If Santana can continue to beat the Dallas double-team, and Cooley (who has also played nicely vs. Dallas) can get on track early, the run lanes should open up and the Skins could be in business. Neutralizing DeMarcus Ware will be this offense's main priority. If Samuels can contain Ware, this offense should roll. If not, he could be in for a 3-4 sack day and Snyder may think twice about Campbell's potentially big payday ahead.
Active's & InActive's - Portis probably limited but Active. Griffin in. Santana in. Taylor probably active but limited. Springs in for the 1st, out in the 2nd, in for a series in the 3rd, out in the 4th. Montgomery out. The Skins have an amazing 16 players on their injury report out of their 53 man roster. Yikes.
The outcome - I think this game gets nasty. Jerry Jones said the Cowboys will make the playoffs. Must-win for both teams. Physically tough game in freezing cold weather. Skins pass the ball a bit better, Randle-El has a nice game, and Betts is serviceable. Betts has a costly fumble which leads to Dallas points, but in the endRomo beats them with a big play down the field to Roy Williams, which sets up a death blow via the right leg of Nick Folk.
Dallas 16 Redskins 13.
Hopefully im wrong in my first and likely only Skins Serv prediction.