Redskins Recap: Offense, Defense and the Future

Steve O Speak

While I already asked a few nagging questions about the Redskins loss yesterday, I wanted to go into more depth on three main topics; the Offense, Defense and the future.

The Offense:

Running game: Well we already addressed the Portis situation in the questions, but it is worth noting again that the Redskins All-Pro running back who makes $8 million was on the sidelines quite a bit during the 2nd and 3rd quarter (you know when the Skins were still in the game and able to run). Torain did have one real nice run, but that was about it. While the team went over 100 yards, it wasn’t exactly a dominating performance (and the Rams don’t exactly have a great defensive unit). They had to go away from the run, due to the scoreboard and ineffectiveness down the stretch, both of which allowed the Rams to start blitzing more as the game wore on. I would give them a C-, better performance by the backs, but some of the play calling and decision making was suspect. Also, being over 100 yards still left them losing to the Rams by 14, so obviously it wasn’t too effective of a rushing attack.

Offensive Line: Overall they held up well and rushed for over 100 yards for the first time all year. Stephon Heyer didn’t have a good game in place of Rookie Trent Williams, but he was better run blocking so it wasn’t completely awful. I think the biggest questions here were the personnel decision making. First they sub out G Derrick Dockery, for Kory Lichtensteiger. Lichtensteiger did have one bad penalty, but all in all held up fine. The only interesting thing here is the fact they made the move late (players were told on Sat.) and that they opted not to try to use that situation to put guard Artis Hicks at tackle.

I really question the idea of having Heyer at Left Tackle. While the wisdom of Heyer making the team could easily be up for discussion, one thing that has been 100% proven is that he can’t play on the blind side. He is not quick enough to deal with speed rushers and doesn’t play with good enough balance to hold up at the point of attack. Prior to Trent Williams getting injured Heyer subbed in quite a bit at RT for Jamaal Brown, and really didn’t make any negative plays. Since replacing Williams at LT at the end of the Texans game, Heyer has made multiple penalties, given up a few sacks, and has allowed quite a bit more pressure than when he was on the right side. Brown is a former Pro Bowl LT, and while he hasn’t played there this year, you had all week to get him acclimatized to the position. While I don’t think he is perfect, he would have been a better option than Heyer, who was awful there last year as well. Also, Guard Artis Hicks has some experience at both tackle positions, if Heyer wasn’t cutting it why not keep Dockery at guard, start Lichtenstieger and move Hicks out to one of the tackle spots. Either way there was no reason Heyer should have been manning the left tackle spot all game. He wasn’t the complete reason this team struggled, but his miscues didn’t make things any easier.  O-line Grade: C-, decision making: F

Wide Receivers: This was another position addressed in my questions earlier, but really behind Moss this unit is just a bunch of warm bodies. They aren’t offering much in the way targets for McNabb, and they don’t have the talent/speed/size/football IQ to help make some of his questionable throws, catches. I don’t understand why Devin Thomas isn’t playing pretty much at all, and why he hasn’t been targeted a single time. On the flip side I understand even less why Roydell Williams seems to be a focal point of the passing attack. He has seen the field quite a bit thus far into the season and has had a few opportunities. I’m sorry but Roydell Williams, really?? Yeah he had a nice season in 2007, but he was cut in preseason 2008, and out of football last year. I got to believe that Devin Thomas can run circles around this guy, and even if he can’t at least he could have a future with this team. Receivers Grades: Santana Moss: A, Everyone Else: F, Coaching decisions: F

Tight Ends: Chris Cooley had a nice game but they didn’t get him involved enough early. While he had over 50 yards receiving, 25 of that came on the meaningless drive at the end of the game. And another 16 yards were on the drive before, with 4 minutes to go. They needed to involve Cooley more early, and not doing so really cost them. They also need to pass out of two tight end sets more, because Fred Davis really wasn’t involved in the offense. He had 2 catches for 11 yards, and did draw a big pass interference penalty from the defense early in the game, but for the most part they didn’t call his number. Given the weakness at receiver, the fact that they were obviously trying to take Cooley out of the game, and that their star free safety missed quite a bit of the game, Davis should have been able to exploit the Rams. In limited chances (quite a few less than Williams and Galloway) Davis has had two huge plays. The 60 yard catch and run against the Texans (where again the defense committed a penalty because they couldn’t cover him) and the pass interference yesterday. Unless some of these other receivers really do step up, he should be the third option behind Moss and Cooley, and he should be seeing at least 5-7 balls per game. Cooley and Davis Grade: B+ Game plan for them: C-

Quarterback: After coming off perhaps the best game of his career, McNabb was unable to find a hole against the weak Rams defense. Early mistakes put the offense on the defensive, and late in the game when they were up the Rams began bringing more pressure on McNabb. McNabb scrambled some and also kept plays alive with his feet, but he also had some missed throws as well, including a 4th quarter interception. While some of the blame can be on the offensive line, and receivers, as the game wore on it became hard to tell which quarterback was the rookie and which one was a 12-year vet. Also, hard to say whether it was the play calling or if McNabb didn’t want to challenge deep to get an interception, but not trying for the endzone at the end of the game was pretty bad. McNabb grade: C+

Offensive Summary: While the offense as a whole struggled, the real blame needs to lie at the feet of this coaching staff, because they were simply out maneuvered. The play calling was pretty vanilla, and they weren’t able to take advantage of their early successes in the running game. The fact that three red zone drives stalled and forced field goals of 29, 24, and 21 yards is ridiculous. They have to turn those drives in to touchdowns if they want to be an average team, much less a contender. This wasn’t exactly the Steelers or Jets defense that you were going up against. While some of the blame is on the execution by the players, a lot of it should fall on the play calling and decision making (not involving Davis or Thomas, Portis not playing all downs, and Heyer on the left side). Yes Trent Williams was out, but the Rams were without their only star player on that entire 53 man roster for 3/4th’s of that game, and they managed to put up 30 points (St. Louis has a few other good and solid players, but only Steven Jackson could play on any team in this league). And there were ways they could have minimized the injury to Williams, like putting Brown on the blind side, more quick throws like the Rams did etc.

Check back later as I take a more in depth look at the defense and what the future might bring to this team.

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