Tuesday, September 15, 2009

2009 Redskins Report Card: Week 1 vs. New York Giants

Giants 23, Redskins 17

So, what the hell, we'll do this again this year. Hopefully we'll have more positive comments this year than last, but if the offense doesn't improve from this past Sunday, I'm not holding out much hope for that.

Offense: D+

The offense was bad. You don't have to look at the numbers to know it was bad, but I'll throw a couple key ones at you anyways. The Giants dominated time of possession, 36 minutes to 24. The Giants had eight drives of 8 or more plays, the Redskins mustered just one. But when I saw that Jason Campbell's passer rating was 0.1 points above Eli Manning's, I knew the numbers wouldn't tell the whole story.

The worst play of the game was by Campbell. He rolled out after his pocket collapsed, and gained a few yards while scrambling...and then threw an interception. He was well beyond the line of scrimmage, but of course, the turnover trumped the penalty, so he made a bad decision that much worse. I understand that Campbell is a pass-first quarterback, and I'm content with that. But in that situation, he ought to have the football instincts to know that he's over the line, and needs to tuck it in and run.

One of the more perplexing parts of the Redskins' game plan was their failure to use any sort of no-huddle offense until the very end of the game. With the Giants' defensive line quality and depth being their defense's greatest strength, and with Redskins head coach Jim Zorn allegedly boasting a West Coast offense, the smart move would seem to be forcing that defensive line to stay on the field by going with a hurry-up offense. It plays perfectly to what should be the Redskins' strengths, and should at least partially counterfeit one of the Giants' strengths. It makes plenty of sense thinking about it now, but for the time being, I'll have to trust the "football experts" in the Redskins' coaching offices, and believe that they knew what they were doing.

Defense: B+

There were several instances where the defense shined. A first half drive by the Giants was stuffed on 4th and 1 at the Redskins 3-yard-line. They forced two turnovers, not a huge game, but already ahead of last year's lethargic pace. They prevented the Giants from getting into the end zone on any of their three red zone opportunities.

There were lapses, of course, such as the touchdown by Mario Manningham where three different Redskins missed tackles. And in the fourth quarter when the Redskins needed stops, the defense allowed two long field goal drives, totaling nearly eleven minutes of game time and putting Washington down two scores. Additionally, while he certainly had some impact, we didn't see any great plays out of the $100 million man, Albert Haynesworth. His fellow day 1 signee DeAngelo Hall, though, did get an interception that he nearly took to the house.

Special Teams: B+

Take out the fake field goal touchdown by Hunter Smith and this grade is more like a C, but any time you can put points on the board with your special teams, that's a good day. They did average nearly ten more yards per kickoff return than the Giants as well, and the Giants didn't gain a single yard on any of Smith's five punts on the day. There's plenty of room to improve, but a lack of any big mistakes keeps the grade high and bodes well for the future.

Overall: C

It's tough to rate the whole team as a C, but the offense really let the rest of the team down this week. Washington gets the Rams, Lions, and Buccaneers over the next three weeks, and there's absolutely no reason to think they won't be 3-1 after those three games. If they lose any of those games, I honestly wouldn't be surprised with any change, including quarterback and/or head coach. Let's hope it doesn't come to that, and we get to watch some well-executed football next week.

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