September 8, 2008

Ugly Start To The Season

Jim Zorn was certainly joltd back to reality last Thursday as the Giants spoiled his coaching debut, winning 16-7 over the Skins.

The game could have been much worse had the Skins not made some defensive adjustments after the first quarter. They were also helped by a more passive gameplan by the Giants after they built a comfortable lead early on.

Zorn had a whole half to comeback as the defense gave up zero points in the second half and yet the offense failed to score. Four times the Skins were stopped a yard short on third down pass completions and they went 3-13 overall on third down.

When you get in a hole early there is no way you can afford to go through the second half with no urgency, but the Skins did just that. They failed to capitalize on good field position throughout the third quarter. A 25 yard Clinton Portis run failed to bring about a scoring drive and Jason Campbell turned in a listless performance.

However, I see Zorn as being the main problem. Campbell would hit a few receivers and get into a groove only to have Zorn call an ineffective draw. Zorn didn't seem to mix up his plays in the right way whatsoever.

When Campbell hit receivers things looked good. He ran the slant route to perfection with Moss and Randle El. He missed a couple of deep throws, but I didn't think that Zorn called a game that worked in the offense's favor.

The running game was unimaginative and Chris Cooley was only thrown to three times. Countless patterns were run short of the sticks. The tempo, praised by many players to be so upbeat, was rather downtrodden.

The one thing to look at was that Campbell had great success running from the shotgun. He was 10-15 from the gun, but was only 5-12 from under center. Zorn announced to the Washington Post that he would be employing the shotgun more frequently in the future.

Nevertheless, Zorn failed to manage the clock properly late in the game and even though it was his first time out, it's common knowledge that when you are down two scores, you run no huddle. Especially considering Campbell is at his best when playing from the no huddle. In the future, Zorn must get everything under control if he wants to win close games.

The O-line improved as the game went along and aside from the first play from scrimmage, they gave up only one sack. More improvement is needed, but Joe Bugel knows how to make the proper adjustments and I don't see them struggling against a like the Saints have this week.

Defensively, the absence of Shawn Springs was evident as Plaxico Burress torched the Redskins secondary for 10 catches. Springs should be back at full strength and he'll be needed to cover Marques Colston.

The defensive line did not put pressure on Eli Manning consistently although they did notch two sacks. I think as Jason Taylor recovers from his sprained knee, things will improve, but Manning was comfortable in the pocket for most of the game. That's not something that can happen again this week as Drew Brees is a significantly better passer than Manning.

London Fletcher was the star on defense, making 17 tackles while McIntosh and Washington stayed quiet throughout the game.

The defense dropped two picks which really hurt the team's chances. Fred Smoot had one interception, but dropped an easy one at the goal line which led to a Giants field goal. Laron Landry dropped another when Manning was under pressure from a blitz.

Whenever Manning was rushed he made poor decisions and so the Skins really need to look hard at that game tape and say, "wow look what happens when we generate some pressure." They need to keep up that rush every passing down. Not just one out of every ten plays.

So it wasn't a good start at all, but if the Skins just adjust the play calling and allow Campbell more opportunities to get the ball to his playmakers, things could turn aound quickly. Unfortunately I've seen the Skins squander talent far too often and so I'll remain skeptical until I see some change.

No comments: