Dec 2, 2005, 2:19 AM EDT
You can reach Rich Tandler by email at WarpathInsiders@comcast.net
Since October 30, the Redskins have experienced an agonizing variety of losses. They lost a blowout in New York and dropped a shootout in Tampa. Against Oakland, they lost because the couldn’t score an offensive touchdown and they lost to San Diego despite holding a 10-point lead going into the fourth quarter.
After all of this, can they find a way to win?
They can, but it will be a tough task. The Rams aren’t the Greatest Show on Turf any more, but they are still fourth in the NFL in offense this year despite the fact that they may be using their third different starting quarterback this season this Sunday (more on that coming up). On top of that their head coach/offensive guru Mike Martz is on the shelf for the season with a heart ailment and Torry Holt and Issac Bruce have missed a combined seven games this year. Still, they crank along at a pace of 372 yards a game.
They have scored 24 or more points in nine of their eleven games. Contrast this with the Redskins’ scoring output, which has reached that 24-point milestone just twice.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, a rookie from Harvard, led a stunning comeback last week against the Texans, rallying the team from deficits of 24-3 with 30 minutes to play and 27-17 with 30 seconds left. Although he’s the reigning NFC Offensive Player of the Week, he might not start for the Rams on Sunday. If Jamie Martin has recovered from the concussion that knocked him out of last Sunday’s game, opening the door for Fitzpatrick, he will start and Fitzpatrick, the only Harvard quarterback ever to throw an NFL pass, will go back to the bench. Martin did not practice on Thursday and he is listed as questionable.
If Fitzpatrick does indeed end up starting, he won’t be quite the mystery he was to the Texans. Gregg Williams and company have 30 pass attempts to study to find his tendencies and his weaknesses. That’s 30 more than Houston had.
Because they are no longer unknown, quarterbacks often have a considerably tougher go of it in their second appearances than they do in their debuts. In 2002 Patrick Ramsey got his first NFL game action in Tennessee after starter Danny Wuerfel got hurt. He went 20-34 for 248 yards, two TD’s and no interceptions with a QB rating of 103.6. The next week Ramsey got the start and his stats took a nosedive as he threw four interceptions and had a quarterback rating of 48.8. He created a book in that first game and the Saints read it and took advantage of it in his second appearance.
If he plays, Fitzpatrick’s rating will almost certainly take a tumble from the lofty career 117 mark he now sports. Martin, on the other hand, is in his 11th NFL season (he actually was with the Redskins for a while in 1997, but he didn’t play) and, while shouldn’t look for gaudy numbers from him he should give a solid, workmanlike performance.
You never want to root for anyone to get hurt or remain hurt (bad karma), Redskins rooters might want to hope that the Rams err on the side of caution and give Martin an extra week to clear his head.
So, back to the original question, will the Redskins be able to beat this team on the road in a very loud dome? If you’re one who believes that defense quiets a crowd and wins games, you have to think that they will. We looked at scoring output earlier, now let’s look at scoring prevention. St. Louis has allowed the other team to put up 24 points or more eight time, the Redskins just three. If form holds, we’re probably looking at a game with scores in the upper teens to lower twenties.
Redskins 23, Rams 20
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