September 28, 2008

NFC Contenders? You Betcha!

The Redskins made quite a few believers this week in their upset of Dallas. The media will certainly count the Skins among the top contenders in the NFC if not the NFL after they dominated the ball and large parts of the game Sunday.

The Skins can soak in the glory, but only on Monday because there are still 12 more games to be played and 3-1 start can quickly turn into a disaster. What has brought them this far is consistency and aggressiveness combined with a killer instinct that previous Skins' squads never developed. If the Skins want to continue winning they have to keep that consistency which is easier said than done.

Jim Zorn has kept the Skins focused and collected thus far. After New York, he made the necessary adjustments. After New Orleans, he stuck with what worked and built on the progress against Arizona. Coming into Dallas, he made sure the Skins weren't intimidated and ended up going blow-for-blow with the big D.

And it wasn't just mindless body blows. The shots were direct and square in the mouth. A ball control offense wore down the Cowboys until they didn't know what was coming. An early dose of Campbell gave way to some strong runs by Clinton Portis. An opportunistic defense shut down Marion Barber and made a key interception late in the game.

The Skins went out to keep the ball away from Dallas' offense and they did just that. They held the ball for over 35 minutes and had their way for much of the day with Dallas' secondary.

Zorn's play calling used the pass to set up the run and the scheme seems to fit Washington beautifully. Portis improves as the game wears on while Campbell continues to avoid mistakes.

To beat great teams, turnovers can't happen and the Skins have only one in four games. Campbell has yet to throw a pick while his decision making has been superb. Several times he checked down as his downfield target was covered. Other times he avoided pressure and got the ball downfield to the open man. He hasn't been biting off more than he can chew and Zorn has given him his complete trust.

This trust was something Joe Gibbs never gave Campbell. Whenever there was a positive, Gibbs failed to build on it. Not so with Zorn. The offense can't be this flawless all season, but Zorn has already proven his ability to bounce back. Consistency will be the main thing down the stretch and with Zorn we should see more of it in the offense.

Only time will tell concerning the long-term consistency of the offense, but one thing is for sure: the Skins are damn aggressive. After killing the clock with passing the last two weeks, the Skins threw non-stop en route to four straight scoring drives. Then Zorn unabashedly ran right down the Cowboys throats on the final drive that put them up two scores. No deception, just simple, smashmouth football.

This consistency and aggressiveness give the Skins that killer instinct which have given them three straight wins. They have won these games on their own terms, killing the clock in all three.

This success has been monumental for the Skins and now that they have opened up everyone's eyes, they have to keep on the delivering. Contenders? For now, but let's keep it rolling.

No comments: