Oct 7, 2005, 7:58 PM EDT
LaVar, Gibbs, and Bold Predictions
Before getting started here, a few non-words about Arrington. It’s really simple—he’s not playing because he’s not playing within the defensive scheme. Will he be back next year? Next year is 13 games away, possibly more, and too much is going to happen to make anything but a wild guess about whether or not Arrington will wear the B&G next year. Not that I’m foreign to making a wild guess from time to time, but I’ll pass on this one.
We’ve discussed media templates here before and one of the prime ones surrounding the Redskins is some variation of “the game has passed Joe Gibbs by”. He was stuck in the 1980’s world both strategically and mentally, with a game plan that went out of vogue with disco music.
Like most of the templates, this wasn’t made up out of thin air, there once was some basis in fact for it. Even Jon Jansen said that the team was running plays from 1992. The awful results from the offense last year speak for themselves.
A template, however, is static. Joe Gibbs is dynamic. As soon as the 2004 season ended, he got down to work in a way that few of us ever will get down to work on anything. For most of the offseason, the work days of Gibbs and his coaching staff started at 12 hours and usually went longer, six and seven days a week. They looked at what was wrong with the offense from every possible angle–plays, game plans, personnel, game management, everything. Gibbs got some new weapons, jettisoned some old ones, went into OTA’s and minicamp and installed the revamped offense.
Some elements, like a max protect pass package, are old. Others, like the shotgun, are new to Gibbs. The Redskins haven’t lit up the world offensively, but they have scored enough to win three games out of three and rank 14th in the NFL in offense. That may not be very impressive, but it is better than 17 other teams, including Mike Shanahan’s Broncos.
And it means that Joe Gibbs gets it. He can adjust, he can get it done. It doesn’t mean that the Redskins will go undefeated this year; it doesn’t mean that they will even win a playoff game. It just means that those who said that the game had passed by Gibbs were wrong.
I don’t expect the legion of Gibbs doubters out there to suddenly grow a pair and come out and admit that they were wrong like Terry Bradshaw did on FoxSports.com.
It’s damn impressive what the Redskins have accomplished thus far.
Let’s go back to last year. Remember, at the end of last season, Gibbs came out and said, “Let’s not be so quick in writing off Brunell.” Patrick Ramsey, yes, he’s pretty good, but Brunell can still play.
Now, I was one of those guys who openly questioned Gibbs when he said that. Did he really believe that? I was saying, “Hey, get the young kid in there. You can’t win with Brunell.”
Why did I do that? Because I’m following into a trap like everyone else. Pick up the papers back in Washington. The writers thought Gibbs was dead wrong about Brunell. I’ve learned my lesson. There is no way I know more about what’s going on in Washington than Gibbs. I just see it from a studio and I’m impressed that the Redskins are 3-0 and in first place.
Such statements as Bradshaw’s are nice but not necessary. As long as they drop this outdated template, that will be fine with me.
Whenever the Redskins play an AFC team I feel like it’s a game that’s being played on the moon or something. It’s very foreign and very hard to figure out. When you play a team only once every four years there just isn’t much to go on.
But, hey, I’ve made a living here on making a lot out of not very much, so here goes.
I do know one thing for sure—this is a statement game for the Redskins. Win and a quality road victory (make that a second one after Dallas) will force the detractors to take some notice.
The Broncos, after years of having a reputation for being a high-powered offense but a mediocre defense and something of a soft underbelly, are now playing it rough. It’s back to the days of the Orange Crush with the defense leading the way. Or make it the Brown Crush (sorry, can’t come up with anything more poetic there) as ¾ of their starting defensive line played for Cleveland last year. Wherever they came from, they are ranked fourth in run defense and sixth in overall defense. They physically beat up on the Jacksonville Jaguars last week and the Jags are quite physical themselves.
The Redskins still aren’t a smooth-running offensive machine and it’s unlikely that they’ll score a ton against this defense. Without some help from the defense (more on that in a minute) it’s hard to see the Redskins putting up more than 14-17 points, whether Champ Bailey, who missed last week’s game and is listed as questionable this week, plays or not.
And that could be good enough to win. The Denver offense is middle of the pack at best. It’s not as good as the Seattle offense that the Redskins beat last week. Shaun Alexander is better than either of the Broncos’ backs, Darrell Jackson and Bobby Engram are better than Rod Smith and Ashley Lelie and Matt Hasselbeck is much better than Jake Plummer.
This is the week that Gregg Williams does less talking about the blitz and faking the blitz and starts bringing it. Plummer is at his most effective getting outside of the pocket and making plays on the move. If you force him to make decisions quickly and get rid of the ball, he can be rattled.
And a rattled Jake Plummer means turnovers. Last year, he threw 20 interceptions, not a bad number for a guy who started 16 games at all. However, they tended to come in bunches. Plummer had six games in which he threw no picks. But seven times he had games with two or more completions to the other-colored jerseys.
If the Redskins can coerce one of those multi-INT efforts out of Plummer on Sunday, they will win and they could win easily. If not, it will be yet another game that goes into the final minutes, or extra minutes, until it’s decided. If that happens, it’s anyone’s game.
The call here is that Gregg Williams will get inside Plummer’s head and he will throw those two or three picks. Champ Bailey will play and will get beaten by Santana Moss. Clinton Portis won’t have a spectacular game in his homecoming, 80-90 yards or so. It won’t be spectacular, but it will be successful. Nick Novak kicks another late field goal and the Redskins hold off a late Denver bid and win.
Redskins 17, Broncos 13
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