The Redskins much maligned defense showed up yesterday in a big way. They forced three turnovers, had four sacks, and kept the opponent out of the endzone for the first time since 2008. The biggest difference today was the pressure, as in edition to the sacks, the Redskins were able to keep pressure on quarterback Nick Foles throughout the game. Jim Haslett who has been on the hot seat all year, dialed up a great defensive game plan, with a number of exotic blitzes. One of the better parts of the game for the defense was the fact they weren’t committing as many penalties as they had been prior to the bye. Though it was a really strong performance of the defense and the best so far of the season, one thing to keep in mind is the fact that the Eagles didn’t help themselves at all. Not only was it a rookie quarterback behind a banged up offensive line, but Philly continuously shot themselves in the foot with penalties, missed assignments and dropped passes.
For as good as the defense was the offense was overall pretty ordinary, but they were still able to put up 31 points due to some big plays by Robert Griffin III. Much will be made of his 14-15 passing including four touchdowns, but the most impressive part of his game was what he did with his legs. Griffin scrambled a number of times to extend drives and pick up big chunks of yards on the ground. In fact he ended up running nearly as many times (11 to 15) as he attempted a pass. Griffin did made some big plays through the air as well that obviously resulted into points, but much of those wouldn’t be possible if not for him setting them up with plays on the ground.
The reason why Griffin was so key, was because the Offensive line was so bad. They allowed a number of runs to be stopped for little or no gain, and gave up just a ton of pressure. If not for Griffin’s ability to scramble, the line may have given up 6 or 7 sacks. On top of that the line was once again the main culprit in giving up penalties, which helped stall multiple drives. The Eagles lost contain on Griffin, but a more discipline team would be able to capitalize on the offensive line issues to the point of stopping the Redskins, on a short week the Redskins need to get this fixed fast.
Santana Moss: It might have just been one play, but what a tremendous catch and effort by Moss to get that touchdown. That play rivaled Robert Griffin III‘s run against the Minnesota Vikings to seal that game. It also once again brings to mind the question, why is Moss not getting more snaps and targets. He’s been so productive this year when given the opportunity, why are the Redskins limiting him?
Penalties: The Redskins came into the game averaging 8.3 penalties (accepted penalties) a game, which was the highest in the NFL, so how do they come out at home after the bye? They commit 13 penalties, about 5 more than their average. The offense was the biggest culprit, which is unacceptable as multiple of the penalties were false starts. How you commit multiple false starts at home is beyond me.
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Play-calling: Once again there were a number of questionable play calling decisions by the offense. Going for ti on 4th and 1, inside the red zone when a field goal would essentially ice the game made little sense. Yes a first down and eventual TD would have been better, but a field goal made it a three TD game. It would have been one thing if the Skins were inside the 5 forcing them to drive 95+ yards, but from near the 20, that gave Philly solid field position. Their play calling on the drive after the fumble recovery before half was also problematic, and something that better teams would have exploited. Finally, why the Redskins were continuing to run Griffin, late in the game when it was already out of reach is beyond me. Look what happened on the side when LeSean McCoy gets injured on a meaningless play at the end of the game, and that was with the team being down. At least there you can make the case that they are trying for the miracle comeback, or working on plays for the rest of the year. The Redskins need to be smarter and either pull Griffin in those situations or don’t put him in a position to take hits. .