Friday, September 5, 2008

Redskins Report Card - Week 1 vs. New York Giants

After a few years in central Pennsylvania, I'm finally back in Maryland, and able to watch every Redskins game. So, to take full advantage of that fact, I'm going to try to do this new weekly feature and review the Redskins game for that week. We'll use a report card system with some analysis. You'll love it.

Offense: D

The offense looked pitiful for 28 of the 30 first-half minutes. They put together a solid scoring drive at the end of the half which included Jason Campbell's first completion of the game. For 28 minutes, Campbell was 0-fer. The second half was much better, but the team seemed to have trouble stringing together multiple positive plays, which was a problem last year as well. The Skins would get one or two nice plays, but be unable to sustain drives.

The thing that was most noticeably lacking, though, was management. There were at least five occasions where the Redskins completed a pass on 3rd down that came up a yard or two shy of the first down marker. That's either bad play-calling (thus Jim Zorn's fault) or bad passing decisions (thus Jason Campbell's fault...and in turn, Zorn's fault). Additionally, there was virtually no sense of urgency on the offensive side of the ball at the end of the half or the end of the game. The end of the half was forgivable, the end of the game was not. Down 9 points, you need to be focused on getting to the sideline or throwing the ball out of bounds when you're inside 5 minutes left. Dumping off 4 yard passes to the middle of the field is a surefire way to lose the game, and lo and behold, that's what they did.

Jim Zorn is a first time head coach, and it was reasonable to expect that this kind of thing might be a problem. But it would have been a nice surprise to see the 2 minute offense work fluidly in week one. Even in a loss, I'd have felt good about the team if we'd have picked up that last touchdown and looked good doing it. As is, I'm predicting losses every week until they show me they're worth something. An 0-5 start is within this team's grasp.

Defense: C-

While better than the offense, the defense still showed some of the same problems they had last year. They still have trouble stopping the run, although I do think Brandon Jacobs is going to make a lot of defenses look bad this year. They got picked apart by Eli Manning in the first series of the game, and Coughlin showed what he can do with a lot of preparation time. It seemed like every play on that first drive was the right call. Still the Skins had opportunities to shut down some of those early scoring drives before they turned into field goals, and they came up short.

It is worth pointing out, though, that the team was missing a starting cornerback in Shawn Springs, and that both Jason Taylor and LaRon Landry have been battling injuries. And the Giants' plan all night was to run right at Jason Taylor, who even healthy isn't a tremendous run stopper. Hopefully with the extra time in between games, Washington can get healthy and we can see what this defense looks like when at full strength.

Special Teams: B

I wasn't of the opinion that Rock Cartwright was anything special. But as I said, I was living in Altoona for the past three years, so I didn't get to see him in action much. He shined on a few different plays last night, churning out a 50-yard kickoff return and picking up a huge tackle on punt coverage. The kicking and punting was fine, not exceptional, but nothing to be ashamed of.

Overall: D+

The special teams weren't difference-making, and so they make no difference in the final overall score. This was a bad offensive performance by a team that didn't have a lot to be excited about on offense anyways. The one saving grace is that with as bad as they were, they were able to stay in the game. Hopefully we can get a little more moving on offense and prevent the defense from having to play with their backs to the wall all game again. Of course, next week is New Orleans, which could be a slap in the face. See you next time.

Player of the Game: Rock Cartwright

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