Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Redskins Report Card: Week 13 vs. New York Giants

Giants 23, Redskins 7

The score may fool you into thinking that this game was competitive, when it was anything but. And the worst part of the game was that it was the Redskins' supposed strengths that failed them.

Offense: D+

The Redskins' trademark this year, their signature, has been the strong running game. They've relied on Clinton Portis for 30% of their offense for a good portion of the season, and he's always delivered. But we all knew that, eventually, some team was going to take away the running game and force it all upon Jason Campbell. Not surprisingly, it happened when Washington faced one of the best-coached, most balanced teams in the NFL.

On Sunday, Portis accounted for a paltry 11% of a mostly unimpressive offense that had one really good play, a touchdown on an end-around to Devin Thomas. The pass protection has to account for a large part of this disappointment, giving up 4 sacks and several more hurries and scrambles. Obviously the Giants have a top tier pass rush, but with all the money the Redskins have poured into the offensive line, you'd expect a little more performance out of them.

One last thing is that this team was at its best last year when Mike Sellers was involved. Sellers proved to be a very appealing red zone option, which is a place the Redskins have struggled this season. Both on the ground and through the air, Sellers has got to have a bigger role if the 'Skins are going to make good on my prediction (which I'll give you at the end of this article).

Defense: C-

This was a bad defensive performance as well. They did a decent job at containing the run, holding both Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward under 4.0 yards per carry, and stifling a couple of drives inside the red zone. But the Redskins got absolutely picked apart by Eli Manning, not much differently from their first meeting. Manning picked up 305 yards through the air, and hit virtually every important pass in the first half, making clutch third-down throws and just generally dominating the vaunted 'Skins secondary.

Is Washington's defense a disaster? No, not at all. Jason Taylor just needs to start doing what he was acquired to do, which is disrupt the passing game. He's a physical freak and he's got an entire career of pressuring quarterbacks. It's about time he started doing it in a Redskins uniform.

Special Teams: C-

Alright, I'm ready to back off of my support for the kicking game...just a tiny little bit. Shaun Suisham missed a 42-yard field goal, his 3rd miss in 4 tries on kicks over 40 yards over the past three games. But the two games before that he was 5/6 on 40+, so it's not like my faith in him was completely unfounded. I still don't think you replace him or anything drastic like that, and you still give him a chance at any field goal 45 yards or shorter in decent weather. But if it's a long field goal, or if weather is an issue, then you give more consideration to going for it on 4th down. That's all.

Plackemeier had some good punts, though he was trading punts with the master, Jeff Feagles. Someday this guy will get the credit he deserves; he's a virtuoso. Oh, and James Thrash is just useless. He can be a gunner on punts and a coverage guy on kickoffs, but you just can't give him the opportunity to catch/carry the ball anymore. That's Devin Thomas' job. He can be a decent kickoff guy, and since he's under-utilized on offense anyways, putting him in the return game only helps, doesn't hurt. Do it.

Overall: D

My overall grade this week is lower than any of the individual grades, and here's why: the clutch factor. Whenever the Redskins needed to make a play on offense, they came up short. Whenever the Redskins needed to make a play to stop the Giants' offense, they came up lame. In a game that's as competitive as professional football is, it all comes down to converting third downs, making smart special teams plays, taking advantage of opportunities that present themselves. The Redskins failed on all of these levels on Sunday, and it showed in the final score.

All that being said, I think the Redskins are a playoff team. What's that you say? They'd have to win their final 4 games to make it into the playoffs? Well then, that's what I'm predicting. There's no reason they should lose to San Francisco or Cincinnati, and Philadelphia is always a beatable team. This weekend's game against Baltimore is, in my mind, their toughest game on the road to the playoffs, and I think they win it. Baltimore isn't the powerhouse that they're getting credit for being, and this group of Redskins players made late pushes last year and three years ago. I think they've got it in them to do it again.

So watch out, 11-5, here come the Redskins!


Chip said...

Who's giving Baltimore credit for being a powerhouse? I try to track them and would like to say I do a pretty good job doing so, and I haven't heard anyone say they were a powerhouse team. Are they in the play-off hunt? Yeah. They need to snag 2-3 wins out of the last 4 games against tough opponents (Redskins, Steelers, Cowboys, and Jaguars). The kicker being the Steelers. If they can nab that one, there will be a huge shift in the AFC play-off picture.

GoodPointJoe said...

Maybe "powerhouse" was too strong a word, but certainly a lot of people have positive things to say about the Ravens and their golden boy, Joe Flacco.

- ESPN's Power Rankings
- Fox Sports' Power Rankings
- NBC Sports' Power Rankings

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