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The Tuesday Take—Misperception

Sep 10, 2008, 5:00 AM EST

To open up the 2007 season, the New York Giants went on the road to play the Dallas Cowboys. They lost by 45-35 in a game that was not as close as the final score indicated. Last Thursday the Redskins went on the road and lost to the Giants by nine points in a game that was not as close as the final score indicated.

Yet the reaction to the game a year ago is vastly different to the game last week. Sure, the Giants had their critics and the buzzards were circling around Tom Coughlin. But the buzzword then and now, as that game is being revisited, is that the Giants were “competitive”. Even though half of their team, the defense, was completely ineffective, it was OK because they were able to post five touchdowns.

Just like the Giants a year ago, the Redskins were ineffective on one side of the ball but it was the Skins offense that couldn’t get untracked. The Washington defense was respectable throughout.

We know what the reaction to the Redskins’ loss has been. I heard a Sirius NFL Radio commentator say that the Skins would have trouble beating a high school team. Dan Steinberg in the DC Sport Bog did a good job of compiling some of the more hysterical reactions from both his WaPo compatriots and others.

Such contrasting viewpoints depending on which half of the team pulls a no-show are the norm on all levels of football. Even though they say that defense wins championships, if you’re going to stink up the joint on one side of the ball, it had better be the defense. If you lose a high-scoring affair, you’re in there fighting. If you lose while giving up just one touchdown you would have trouble beating Duke.

One more related point here. Please don’t tell me that the Redskins were “lucky” or “fortunate” that the Giants didn’t score more points, that it “could have been 28-0″ , or any other such nonsense. Yes, the Giants drove into scoring position three more times in the first half after scoring their first and only touchdown. But the Redskins defense, not bad luck, stopped them and forced them to settle for field goals.

There were no dumb penalties on the Giants. They did not drop any passes. No questionable call or non-call cost New York a touchdown. There were no occasions where a wide-open receiver or a runner in the open field slipped and fell. The Redskins simply turned them away.

It’s like saying that the Giants were lucky that the Redskins didn’t run or pass for a first down on their first three possessions.

  1. Anonymous - Sep 10, 2008 at 7:44 AM

    Amen to this! One game does not a season make. Other teams had much worse times on opening days. Just imagine you are a Colts fan and having to explain losing your first regular season game at home in your shiny new stadium. And be thankful the Skins don’t have to face the Bears during the regular season. It’s going to be tough enough facing Giants, Eagles, and Cowboys without having to worry with Da Bears.

    Observation: Jamarcus Russell for the Raiders looked even more lost than JC did this week.

  2. Anonymous - Sep 10, 2008 at 9:32 AM

    Well, I agree the Skins’ defense did tighten up, but I think the statement that we “shut them down in the second half” would also be misleading. If our offense were effectiving countering when the Giants scored, the Giants would have been more aggressive. Because their defense was playing well, they didn’t need to risk sending Plax over the middle. We never had an answer for him or Jacobs. I don’t want to be completely pessimistic. I think the Offense will improve, but the defense was worse than the score indicated and will continue to deteriote throughout the season. There is just no young emerging talent on D, except Laron. It’s only a matter of time before Springs, Washington, Griffin, etc break down.

  3. Joe in Raleigh - Sep 10, 2008 at 9:47 AM

    I don’t know if I’d say the defense was “respectable throughout.” They got rolled over on the opening drive. Jacobs and Burress did whatever they wanted. Manning seemed to somehow get accurate passes off right before getting clobbered. Obviously, the Skins defense made some changes and improved as the game went on.

    As to the comment by a reader that the defense will get worse, I’m not really sure why I would believe that. When Springs comes back, he’ll immediately make the secondary better.

    As far as young guys on defense, I’ll be keeping an eye on Chris Wilson, Rocky Mac, and Chris Horton to come into their own. I think Horton may eventually take Doughty’s spot.

  4. Rich Tandler - Sep 10, 2008 at 9:54 AM

    First of all, Anon #2, I did not make that “shut down” statement. They did shut them out, that is a fact.

    Second, speaking of facts, let’s deal in facts here, not suppositions. On what facts are you basing your assertion that the the Giants were not being aggressive? The Giants didn’t empty their bench. Eli kept throwing and handing off to Jacobs and Ward. He did keep throwing to Burress.

    Don’t give me this they weren’t trying garbage unless you can bring some facts to the table to back it up.

  5. Rich Tandler - Sep 10, 2008 at 9:56 AM

    Joe, is giving up a touchdown drive–one–to the Super Bowl champs in their building not respectable? Do you have to shut them out to gain that description?

  6. Joe in Raleigh - Sep 10, 2008 at 10:52 AM

    On the Giants 1st drive they picked up 84 yards on 11 plays. Burress had catches of 17, 30, and 11 yards. I don’t think they had any plays for negative yards. The defense added 5 yards to their drive with a penalty in the red zone. They let a slow-footed QB scamper into the endzone.

    If the goal of a defense is to somehow impede or slow down the progress of the opposing offense, then no, they were not respectable on the opening drive. Especially for a team like the Redskins that’s relied on stout defense for the past 5 years or so.

    But they certainly got better as the game went along. And I’d never blame the defense for a 16-7 loss. If you hold a team to 16 points, you should win.

  7. HokieJoe - Sep 10, 2008 at 11:40 AM

    I think the overblown criticism of the Redskins has more to do with the change of coaches than anything else. People, both locally and nationally, gave Gibbs a huge amount of slack–he should have received much more criticism for an anemic offense than he did. Now that St. Joe is gone, Zorn and his offense are taking the brunt of the frustration of years of ineptitude on offense.

  8. Skudge - Sep 10, 2008 at 11:41 AM

    Bottom line, the Redskins have become the team that everyone loves to hate.

    Everyone loves to laugh at them for the coaching search woes, their overpriced dead-end veteran rouges gallery, and Snyder’s stumbles in general.

    And so when they win, they were lucky or the other team beat itself.

    When they lose, they stink, it was deserved, and they’re never gonna amount to nuthin’.

    Even a Superbowl win will be taken with a grain of salt.

    Unfortunately, I think the only thing they can do is put together an excellent program and keep it together for enough years (yeah, years) to change the perception entirely.

  9. Anonymous - Sep 10, 2008 at 12:20 PM

    credit where credit is due.. for the first time in a long time, the defense actually made adjustments at half time that lead to improved performance in the second half.
    if this were richie pettibone the huzzahs would be deafening, but that is exactly what it was.

    this loss goes squarely on the offense. when your defense shuts down ANY opponent for the second half , much less the world champions in their own house,
    in their home opener, it is doing it’s job. with any kind of decent offensive output (one TD and one FG) we walk away with a win on the road, in a very tough stadium.

    maybe some of that failure is due to the giant defense under that vile Mr Spags, but i am not feeling charitable to him in any way. i still think it comes down to our offensive ineptness more than anything.

    i will be delighted with another similar defensive effort against the saints. let them have only 16 points and we better come out on top..

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