Little has apparently changed from 2009 to 2010 despite early indications the Redskins would be a better team in terms of execution and preparation. It was an ugly performance today in St. Louis as Washington fell to the Rams 30-16 in a lifeless effort from the entire team.
Honestly, can you take anything positive out of this game? Ryan Torain had a good half of football and Santana Moss made up for his costly fumble, but one yard of rushing in the second half did the Redskins in.
Washington ran the ball for 115 yards in the first half. They didn't run the ball once in the fourth quarter and just five times in the third quarter. Somehow they still averaged 6.8 yards per carry for the game. Washington gave up on the run and it cost them dearly.
The second issue is the lack of depth on the offensive line. The Redskins could use an upgrade at left guard, center, and right guard, and today without Trent Williams, Stephon Heyer single-handedly managed to sabotage several drives.
Washington will have to deal with Trent Cole, Clay Matthews, Dwight Freeney, and Julius Peppers for the next month, and they must have a healthy Williams if they wish to compete in those matchups. Donovan McNabb appeared to be a bit jumpier in the pocket today with the extra pressure and Williams will go a long way towards easing the backside rush.
Back to this game, my offensive player of the game would have to be Santana Moss. He's quietly having a very good season and he had 6 catches for 124 yards and a touchdown. He did fumble the ball early in the first quarter, but he was the only offensive threat in the game.
Roydell Williams was the only other wide receiver to catch a pass and Devin Thomas was invisible again despite the absence of Anthony Armstrong. Armstrong was inactive with an injury. It might be safe to say the coaching staff has no faith in Thomas as a receiver despite possessing more athletic ability than any other wide out on the roster save Moss. Thomas has never particularly impressed me, but he's better than Roydell Williams. If I could know one thing for certain about this year's team it would be why they refuse to put Thomas in at receiver.
On the other hand, Moss has 22 catches for 290 yards and a touchdown. He's on his way to another big year even if Washington isn't.
My defensive player of the game is Phillip Daniels. Daniels had a monster series on the goal line against the Rams at the end of the first half. He had great penetration on several running plays and after Washington forced a field goal attempt, Daniels rumbled through the line and blocked it.
The Redskins defense was unable to get off the field on third down as St. Louis went 7-16 on the money down. Sam Bradford picked apart the middle of the field, and Washington seemed lost for much of the second half.
Linebackers continued to over-pursue the run and the defensive line failed to shoot gaps or occupy extra linemen. Sloppy tackling was the norm and certain outspoken players (see: DeAngelo Hall) were completely disinterested in taking part in contact. The run defense especially wore down in the second half as the Rams took control of the clock. St. Louis held the ball for 34:10 and it showed down the stretch.
Washington will need a more inspired effort next week against Philadelphia and hopefully we will see it since it will be McNabb's return to the city he starred in for 11 years. Regardless, these Redskins have a long ways to go under Mike Shanahan.