Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Redskins Report Card: Week 9 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Steelers 23, Redskins 6

Offense: F

The offense looked like crap. To be fair, they played at about the same level they've been playing for the past three weeks; they just had to play the Steelers instead of the Rams, Browns, or Lions. But there are literally no offensive numbers you can look at and say, "Well, at least they did that right." Shocking.

After the first quarter, when the 'Skins were up 6-0, you could already tell this game was trouble. The Steelers failed a surprise onside kick attempt, and then threw an interception on their next possession. Washington started on their opponents' 36, and then their 30, and couldn't even muster a first down, let alone get in the end zone. Campbell was sacked or intercepted on every second-half possession. I'll let you sit with that for a moment to let it set in. Every second-half possession, while the game was still within reach, the Redskins allowed a sack or turned the ball over. You won't find many teams that can be successful while posting that kind of performance.

I think this game as much as anything else showed why the Redskins drafted three receivers with their three second-round picks in the 2008 NFL draft. Despite Santana Moss's exceptional play, this is still a team that needs another frontline receiver. Jason Campbell took seven sacks, the most of his professional career, and while some of those were absolutely his fault for not sensing the rush or not throwing the ball away, he would be helped by having one of these rookies actually make some substantive contribution. By the way, did you know that the Redskins took Devin Thomas while DeSean Jackson was still on the board? Oops?

I hope they can use the bye week to get back on track, because this looks like a team that lost itself on Monday night.

Defense: B-

Looking at things objectively, the defense actually didn't play half bad. The offense gave them poor field position through turnovers and ineffectiveness, and they managed to generally stymie a decent Pittsburgh offense. Ben Roethlisberger and Byron Leftwich were a combined 12 of 27 for 179 yards, and the Skins picked up five sacks of their own. They also held the vaunted Steelers running game to 2.2 yards per carry, despite a solid game from the returning Willie Parker.

The defense was still far from exceptional, though, as they were exploited for a couple of big plays, and couldn't keep Pittsburgh out of the end zone from close in. Additionally, they were only able to generate one turnover, and as I said last week, if the Redskins are going to win games, they have to win the turnover battle. They didn't, and so they didn't.

Attn: Carlos Rogers. Please learn to catch a goddamn interception.

Special Teams: C+

Let me ask you, does a C+ seem better than a B-? When I look at it, I feel like I have to cite positives, I guess because of the plus sign. Anyways, on to the special teams. I still like Ryan Plackemeier, who's already punting on a 9th grade level. He at least doesn't have the amazing gaffes that Durant Brooks had earlier this season, and Derrick Frost had last season.

But I implore you, Jim Zorn, put Santana Moss back at punt returner. I honestly don't even care if he has to take the first play off of any non-fair-catch drive to catch his breath. The team needs some kind of spark on special teams, and Moss showed last week against the Lions that he can be that spark. Additionally, again, field position is crucial for a team that can't score 40 points, and the Redskins can't score 40 points. Let Moss return punts. I'm begging you.

Overall: C-

It was a bad game, there's no arguing that. I think this is one of those games that, instead of going over film, you completely ignore, and say, "You know what you all did. Let's get back out there and work." The bye week should be nice, specifically for helping some of that depleted defense get healthy. If Washington can go into week 11 against Dallas with Springs, Rogers, and Smoot healthy, and a revitalized Jason Taylor on the pass rush, the defense could finally make some plays to bust up the Cowboys.

I hope.

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