Wednesday, October 7, 2009

2009 Redskins Report Card: Week 4 vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Redskins 16, Buccaneers 13

I know I'm a little late posting this week, but it was very difficult for me to get some perspective on the game. I didn't want to be too emotional, so I took my time. Also I got caught watching the Twins/Tigers one-game-playoff last night, and that was my night.

Offense: 1st half - F / 2nd half - C+

If you didn't see the first half, you're lucky. It was a train wreck. Two minutes into the game, the Redskins were down seven. Twenty minutes in, Jason Campbell had thrown two interceptions and fumbled the football twice, losing one. In four first quarter drives, they gained 25 yards. For the second week in a row, (against the "mighty" defenses of the Lions and Buccaneers), the Redskins failed to score a single point in the first half.

Thank goodness for the second half. Washington scored on their first three drives of the second half, posting all of the points they would need (and all the points they would get) to win the game. They still had just one drive of 10 plays or more, but they also had a 1-play, 59-yard drive on a bomb to Santana Moss.

The running game sure seems like it's going to be a problem. The Redskins did gain 125 yards on the ground, but it took them 35 carries to do it, with a 13-yard scamper from Campbell being their longest run. Additionally, punter Hunter Smith still has the team's only rushing touchdown.

Campbell does seem more willing to run, which I believe is a good thing. However, it seems like there were too many designed run plays, whereas I think the value of a running quarterback is more evident in the passing game. If you can pull linebackers off their coverage to attack the quarterback, or keep the center of the field open because of the threat of a pass, your offense can pick apart an opponent. It seems like Campbell is just overall much more effective when he starts to run, so I think getting Campbell out of the pocket more frequently is the right move. Also, I mean, really, it's only a shadow of a pocket that this hodge-podge offensive line can put together anyways.

Defense: B-

Statistically, the defense did pretty well. They were put into a lot of bad situations by Campbell's propensity for turnovers, and they managed to stifle the Buccaneers offense more often than not. However, the recently cut Mike Nugent bailed out the defense twice with missed field goals. If he makes one of those, the game goes to overtime. He makes both, and the Redskins lose. But again, that Nugent even had those chances was a direct result of turnovers, so you can't fault the defense for all of them.

One problem that seems to arise for the Redskins every year, regardless of coaches or personnel, is their inability to contain a running quarterback. I understand that a running quarterback brings a new dimension to the opposing offense, but too many times Washington players would get a hand on Josh Johnson and not bring him down. It's one thing if he gets loose and everyone is back in coverage; it's another thing entirely if you've got him bottled up and he gets free. That gets fixed with fundamental tackling effectiveness.

Special Teams: C-

This week, the return game was still solid but not spectacular, but the coverage team was less than stellar. Shaun Suisham did plant a couple kickoffs in the end zone for touchbacks, so that was nice. Hunter Smith's injury may keep him out of this week's game, which hurts both the punting and kicking games. Smith is a fantastic holder, among the best in the league, and it's no surprise that with him out of the game, the Redskins missed an extra point. Hopefully a week of practice will get the new kicking team ready to go if Smith can't.

Overall: C-

I hate to put the overall rating so low on a win, but the Redskins really looked awful in that first half. The hallmark of Jason Campbell's career has been that he seems like he avoids mistakes, but he never makes big plays. Well, he made a big play on the go route to Moss, and made some mistakes. I don't know if it's better, but it is different. If Campbell can get the best of both worlds, we'll really have something to cheer for.

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