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GameBlog vs. Patriots Final

Aug 27, 2006, 12:57 PM EST

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Pregame

Playing the role of the Master of the Obvious here (OK, so what else is new), but I think that it’s critical for the Redskins offense to move the ball. So much so, I would say, that Al Saunders might crack out a little bit more of his playbook, although I don’t think there will be much radical like, say, motion before the snap.

The defense needs to work on the fact that teams have been taking advantage of its aggressive nature. The flea flicker burned them against Cincinnati and the reverse got them against the Jets. Marcus Washington told me after the Jets game that it was more a matter of individual breakdowns than of problems with the nature of the defense itself. Both Washington and Andre Carter assured me that the defense will continue to take it to the other teams’ offenses.

First Quarter

It looks like David Lonie will get his make or break chance tonight. He’s kicking off so that would indicate that he’ll get the punting chores in the early going. If the offense does well, though, he might not have much of a shot.

Not much shown either in the way of aggressiveness or effectiveness on the Redskins’ initial defensive series. Brady had time to make phone calls while he was in the pocket against Washington’s four-man rush and he converts a couple of third downs. The Skins stiffen as Brady runs out of room deep in the red zone and the Pats settle for three.

Brunell displayed a good arm on a deep incompletion to Brandon Lloyd. Although it was overthrown he stepped in and zipped about 30 yards downfield on a rope.

Betts is running a little harder tonight than the rather casual style he displayed against the Jets. Nothing like a little competition to light the fire.

A little too booming a punt by Lonie on his first effort, into the end zone from near midfield.

A wham, bam, thank you ma’am drive for the Patriots. That screen to Dillon that got it going was kind of funny looking, it almost looked like he was surprised to get the ball. The Redskins sure didn’t think he was the receiver and before they knew what happened Dillon was into Redskins territory, turning a second and 10 at the 20 into the start of a quick scoring drive.

It’s kind of surprising that Gregg Williams is starting to do some liberal substitution on defense. Golston, Montgomery, Prioleau, among others, are in for the third series. You’d think that Williams would want to have his defense at least stop the other guys once.

Second Quarter

A good fourth-down conversion for Brunell there. He can fire the ball in there when he needs to. The fact that they went for it on fourth and four in an indication of how badly Gibbs and Saunders want to get the offense rolling.

Now, as far as I know there is no such thing as a “vanilla” field goal attempt. It is what it is and that one by Hall was just flat out ugly. It didn’t appear that the Patriots got exceptional penetration; Hall just kicked it too low.

It’s obvious that Williams wants to see how the defense can play without blitzing. He’s sent a linebacker maybe once or twice and he’s not sent a back yet. So far, the answer to the question is “not too well”.

A couple of all-out blitzes lead to a third-down conversion and a touchdown. Maybe it’s not the schemes, maybe the Redskins are just getting whipped.

Feel free to cover Ben Watson, someone, anyone. It is permitted under the rules, I do believe.

Joe Gibbs looks like he could appear on one of those “want to get away?” commercials. If he was angry last week in a press conference that lasted less than three minutes, I can’t wait to see how tense and short tonight’s will be.

Even though this is no more than a glorified practice, it would be disturbing to see the Redskins practice like this. I’m not doubting their effort but the focus seems to be off. It’s as though they are playing the role of the scout team while the Patriots just run through their paces.

Third Quarter

Duckett is in the game. The quick scouting report based on his first couple of runs is that he needs to travel North and not East-West. He got five yards up the gut and then went nowhere trying to get outside.

Whatever Gibbs and/or anyone else said at halftime didn’t have much effect as a lackluster three and out was the effort out of the gate.

The contributing writers to the print edition of Warpath were asked to give their projections for the NFL Most Valuable Player, among a few other categories. I picked Peyton Manning as the MVP. After watching him tonight, I think I want to change my pick to Tom Brady. He won’t put up as many yards or have numbers as flashy because the New England offense isn’t built like Indy’s and the Patriots play outdoors in the North, but he orchestrates that offense to perfection, makes all of the throws with zip and accuracy, and knows how to deal with anything and everything that’s thrown at him.

Fourth Quarter

Finally, after 11 quarters of play, the Redskins get a takeaway. That and the insertion of Jason Campbell into the game have given the Redskins something of a spark.

They just showed a clip of Al Saunders talking about Campbell and he was very guarded in his praise for the young quarterback. In fact, it wasn’t praise at all really, just a wait-and-see attitude. That’s consistent with the few times that I’ve talked to Saunders about him. The coach apparently wants to be careful not to put too much pressure on him or make him think that the coach is satisfied with where he is.

I’ve touched on this before in other articles, but it’s obvious that the light schedule that Gibbs has in training camp has a lot to do with the way that they have looked in the preseason. The late start, the paucity of two-a-days, the scarcity of hitting, have the Redskins ill-prepared to be competing from scrimmage against teams that are more battle tested. Of course, the object is to win in December, not in August and you can’t question Gibbs’ record when it comes to late in the season. But it sure makes nights like this miserable ones.

A positive note is that Reid Doughty, the rookie safety, has played much better tonight than he has in the previous two games. He stripped the ball causing the fumble that the Redskins recovered and has generally been in the right place.

The Redskins can bounce back from this, no question. They bounced back after the debacle in the Meadowlands and that was a game that counted. However, they had done some good things that year before that and they had the memory of that to fall back on. They haven’t played a solid, complete game since Christmas Eve. That will make it tougher to get any momentum generated.

  1. Andy Benoit - Aug 27, 2006 at 4:35 PM

    Great analysis. I agree that Washington can bounce back – they’re such a veteran team, both coaching and on the field – most of these players realize that the preseason means very little. The Colts were winless in the preseason last year.
    All it takes is one big play on offense in week 1 to give that unit some real momentum. Momentum comes with a grain of salt in August.

  2. Allen in Richmond - Aug 28, 2006 at 11:36 AM

    Wow. I guess I watched a different game! Losing 24-0 this week against the Ravens will seem like a bounce back. They were physically whipped Saturday. New England wasn’t relying on trick plays and smoke and mirrors. They came out and punched us in the gut repeatedly. Both lines looked liked like mush – and we all know games are won and lost at the line. The O line is particularly disturbing. Our Qbs had no chance, and the Patriots were rarely blitzing or dogging, they just came in with their front four and dominated. I have rarely seen a display of power like that. There is a big difference between not showing anything in the pre-season and getting physically dominated. We’ll see!

  3. Joe - Aug 29, 2006 at 2:03 PM

    Rich, Congrats on the free publicity from Jason La Confora on his washington post blog.

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