September 16, 2008

Victory Is Sweet But Questions Remain On Offense

With a thrilling 29-24 victory over the New Orleans Saints, the Washington Redskins found the win column and some offensive prowess to boot.

Jason Campbell was impressive throwing for over 300 yards and Santana Moss proved once again how devastating he can be when healthy as caught seven balls for 164 yards including a 67 yard game winning TD catch from Campbell.

Clinton Portis added 96 yards on the ground with two scores, playing in a way he hasn't in quite a while. In fact, the running game really stood out to me for the following reason. The Redskins mixed up the play calling in such a way that it allowed Portis to face less men in the box as the game wore on.

Jim Zorn actually opened the playbook and continually ensured that Campbell would dial up his receivers. This wasn't the case in week one and in many games which Joe Gibbs coached with Campbell. There often has seemed a reluctance on each coach's part to let Campbell get the ball to his playmakers, but yesterday we saw how good Campbell can be when he is given a looser reign.

In week one, Zorn seemed to call the most basic pass plays and the running game was very predictable. If Campbell completed a pass, Zorn seemed to think it would automatically free up Portis.

This week, Zorn kept up a constant passing attack, forcing the Saints to respect Campbell. As the game wore on, Portis began to see fewer men in the box and bigger holes. He ran with speed and power and the hesitation seen in week one was gone.

The offensive line was fairly effective only giving up two sacks while opening up good holes for Portis especially in the second half.

And of course Moss put on a show all day with Campbell. He took advantage of Aaron Glenn's injury in the fourth quarter burning a battered secondary all day. Antwaan Randle El also got in on the action with four catches and Chris Cooley came back from a quiet game with a workhorse-like five catches including a nice first down grab on a second-and-22.

The big issue with the offense is that they failed to put the ball in the endzone in the first half despite five trips into New Orleans' territory. That cannot happen against teams like Dallas and Philadelphia. Those teams are much better equipped on defense so drives can't be wasted.

Overall, it was a phenomenal offensive effort, but the Skins will be playing much tougher defenses in the upcoming weeks so they had better hope their strong second half performance translates into season long success.

I think if Zorn stays aggressive the Skins have a chance to field a good offense. Campbell has always been fairly interception free so the main concern will just be getting the ball early and often to his playmakers so that the running game will open up as the game heads towards the late stages.

The defense also played well as they only gave up 17 points (the other score was courtesy of a horrible Durant Brooks punt). One of the scores came off of a short drive that stemmed from a Randle El fumble on a punt return.

So, in essence, the Skins only gave up two long scoring drives and looked solid for most of the game. The front four applied decent pressure and Jason Taylor notched a sack. The linebackers were their usual steady selves and the secondary improved drastically from week one to week two.

HB Blades filled in for the injured Marcus Washington and had six tackles. He looked very comfortable and I wouldn't be surprised to see him play a lot more in the future.

LaRon Landry played spy on Reggie Bush for a large part of the day and prevented any big plays. He played with more fluidity in his second game back from a sore hamstring.

However, the big star had to have been seventh round rookie Chris Horton who recorded two interceptions and a fumble recovery along with three tackles. Horton had a good nose for the ball and could very well replace Reed Doughty who just appears to be a step behind on so many plays especially through the air.

Lastly, the cover 3 defense used on the touchdown from Brees to Robert Meacham was atrocious. Firstly, Shawn Springs should never be left covering flats when he is the best corner on the team. Secondly, the Skins have been burned often when in zone defense and I don't understand why they even consider using it. They really don't have the athleticism to use it and it takes the linebackers away from the line of scrimmage where they excel. Anyway, I didn't like the call and I impore Greg Blache to can the zone.

The game was a joy to watch. One of my favorite Skins games in a while. I just hope and pray there will be more like it throughout the year.

No comments: