Zac Boyer will be entering his third season covering the Washington Redskins for The Free Lance-Star this fall. Make sure to follow Zac on Twitter (@ZacBoyer) for the latest updates or e-mail him with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Week 2: Game Balls and Gassers
This is an idea I pinched from several other writers around the league. It’s a quick recap of the Redskins’ best and worst performances from their 9-7 victory over St. Louis yesterday.
SS Chris Horton: Horton made two game-saving plays in the fourth quarter. His hit and forced fumble on WR Donnie Avery at the 5-yard line was the play of the game. Finally, someone on this team stepped up in a crucial moment and made a game-changing play. It kept the Rams off the scoreboard when a field goal would have given them the lead. Later, on the Rams’ final play, how many of you had visions of the deep catch Avery made in last year’s game to set up the winning field goal? Horton made a perfect play, though, on Marc Bulger’s pass. He got his head turned, found the ball, used his body to get position on Avery and knocked the ball down.
TE Chris Cooley: Cooley has been Washington’s biggest threat in the passing game, which, in my opinion isn’t a good thing. He can’t exactly stretch defenses the way the Redskins need to. Still, he’s getting open–which is more than you can say for some receivers (see the Gassers). Campbell’s comfort level with Cooley seems to be as high as ever. Cooley’s game-high seven receptions for 83 yards give him team-leading season totals in both categories. I counted two receptions that converted third downs.
DT Cornelius Griffin: Griffin stood out on the defensive line by generating a push for much of the game. His dropped interception notwithstanding, he had Washington’s only sack and had a tackle for a loss. His four solo tackles were tied for second on the team. He was much more visible than fellow tackle Albert Haynesworth.
LB Rocky McIntosh: McIntosh has been one of the defense’s top performers through two weeks. He had four solo tackles and one assist yesterday. He has been taking stout against the run, taking sound angles to the ball. And yesterday he wasn’t beaten badly in pass coverage, which can be a weakness for him. His forced fumble against RB Kenneth Darby yesterday could have been a momentous play in the game if a roughing-the-passer penalty hadn’t negated it.
WR Malcolm Kelly: Kelly played through a right hand/wrist injury he suffered early in the game to catch four passes for 41 yards. He made an impact for the first time in his NFL career–his four catches yesterday surpass the three he had all of last season. He used his size to make a nice catch over the middle in traffic on second-and-15 from the Rams’ 45 on the long fourth-quarter drive.
K Shaun Suisham: Suisham made three chip-shot field goals. But, hey, that’s why the Redskins chose him to be their kicker over Dave Rayner.
WR Santana Moss: Moss had a pedestrian three catches for 35 yards. It’s apparent that he’s not getting open. Double coverage or not, he needs to find a way to get open because the Redskins can’t stretch the field without him. His fumble in Rams’ territory late in the first half was one of the biggest gaffes on a day full of them.
WR Devin Thomas: Thomas dropped a touchdown pass in the first quarter. Jason Campbell threw the ball quite hard from about five yards away, but this is the NFL, and a second-round pick needs to make that catch. As a result, Thomas did not finish with any catches and is still looking for his first career touchdown. To his credit, he spoke openly about the play after the game and took full responsbility. "I’m sickened," he said.
FB Mike Sellers: Also dropped a touchdown pass. That’s enough to earn a Gasser this morning.
CB DeAngelo Hall: Hall was in coverage on Marc Bulger’s fade pass to Laurent Robinson that resulted in a touchdown. Hall said he left the huddle early before the play and didn’t hear all of the play call. And he said that if he heard the play call, he would have done something different on the play. What?!? I need to follow up on this. Regardless, Hall has been a weak link in the Redskins’ secondary in both games.
RB Marcus Mason: If you’re gonna take carries away from Clinton Portis against a defense as bad as St. Louis’, you’ve got to produce more than a 1.7 yards per carry average. Let’s just say I’m eager to hear what Portis has to say about this. If he doesn’t talk to reporters today, his radio spot on the John Thompson Show tomorrow afternoon becomes must-listen programming.
HC Jim Zorn: First, the good. I liked his decisions to go for it twice on fourth downs late in the game. He had reason to be confident in his defense, and it paid dividends. Now the bad. For whatever reason, Zorn decided that he wanted to beat the Rams through the air. Campbell dropped back 26 times in the first half, compared to only 10 rushes (8 for Portis, 2 for Mason). When you consider what Portis did against the Rams last year (129 yds, 2 TDs), and what Seattle’s running game did against the Rams last week (167 yards) I don’t understand why Zorn was so set on throwing. I also have questions about the pass play he called for Portis on third-and-goal from the five in the third quarter. Why not call that play on first or second down when the Rams are actually expecting Portis to run? When Cooley goes out for a pass on third-and-goal, you think the defense isn’t already expecting that? I’m also a bit unsure why Zorn activated Mason. Mason didn’t add anything to the game, and perhaps he alienated his star running back in the process. We’ll see about that one. Also, when Randy Thomas went down, the Redskins were in a precarious position because they activated only two reserve linemen, and one was non-versatile tackle Mike Williams. That could have been disastrous.
…Did I miss anyone? Let me know who else deserves a Game Ball or Gasser.