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 12: Initial thoughts (Eagles 27, Redskins 24)
Here are my initial thoughts about the Redskins’ 27-24 loss to Philadelphia on Sunday. I let them marinate during the 2.5-hour drive home from The Linc. (FL-S photographer Mike Morones and I made stellar time in light of fears about post-holiday traffic. We even had time for a cheesesteak on Broad St.) I haven’t watched the game film yet, and they’re in no particular order.
*Bad teams find ways to lose games, and the Redskins certainly fall into that category. For the third straight week, they played well enough to be competitive. But they don’t make the decisive plays, and they commit too many mistakes. Sure, 24 points is a great afternoon for this offense. But two interceptions, seven penalties and miscommunication in the secondary are setbacks that good teams can either overcome or don’t suffer in the first place.
*QB Jason Campbell did some things well, but he also made too many errors. His deep fade to Malcolm Kelly in the second quarter was a perfect throw, and he looked off the defense to the left before throwing back to the right. He created his touchdown throw to Fred Davis with his mobility, sucking the linebacker off of Davis and allowing Davis to get open. But the two interceptions were bad, and he again missed some open receivers. I’m thinking of Antwaan Randle El streaking wide open down the right seam. I look at this game and think that, despite the Redskins’ problems on defense, they would have won if they had an elite quarterback.
*The running game was not effective enough to win. I’m not sure who deserves the blame for this. I know Rock Cartwright wasn’t pleased with his performance. That said, credit Washington for sticking to the run game. Doing so provided some essential balance.
*Another bad day for the offensive line. We saw that LT Levi Jones is not in DE Trent Cole’s league. RG Edwin Williams looked like a rookie making his first start. He’d offset a nice block with two breakdowns. As usual, poor play up front was a major factor in this loss.
*The Eagles didn’t seem to blitz as much today as they did in the first meeting on Oct. 26. They seemed content to let their front four try to disrupt Washington’s passing game, and they succeeded.
*I’m wondering if any Redskins fans at this point are actually rooting for the team to lose because 1) it would improve the team’s draft order and/or 2) more losses increase the likelihood of sweeping organizational changes. Anybody out there following this line of thinking? Let me know.
*The Redskins have a 9-game losing streak on the road. Those defeats aren’t just coincidences.
*On WR Santana Moss’s 4-yard touchdown catch on a slant from the left slot, Jason Campbell audibled out of a running play because he recognized that Moss was facing a favorable coverage. It was one of Campbell’s shining moments.
*Washington sorely missed DT Albert Haynesworth in the middle. The first half of this game played out much like last week’s loss to Dallas. Philadelphia successfully ran the ball right at the middle of the Redskins’ defense. If Haynesworth doesn’t play against New Orleans next week, Washington has absolutely no chance of winning.
*Philadelphia’s run game was also aided by the fact that SS Reed Doughty played deep in the secondary for much of the afternoon in order to take away the big pass play. Doughty is at his best around the line of scrimmage in run support, but this alignment was out of necessity. And we saw how well the Eagles ran the ball against the Redskins’ 7-man fronts.
*DL Jeremy Jarmon started at defensive tackle; it was the first start of his career. Washington began the game in its nickel package (CB Justin Tryon started, too). Jarmon hurt his knee on kickoff coverage in the second quarter, and it would be devastating if it’s a serious injury. These last five games are prime developmental opportunities for the rookie. Missing those due to injury–as G Chad Rinehart will–would be critical.
*It will be interesting to hear Jason Campbell’s status as the week progresses. He admittedly blacked out after being hit on the Redskins’ final offensive play. That means he suffered a concussion, however minor it might be. And considering the cautious approach the team is taking with Clinton Portis, perhaps Campbell is forced to miss some practice, and maybe more.
*To hear all the Redskins’ talk about last week about preventing big plays, it was fitting to see Eagles WR DeSean Jackson standing wide open in the end zone waiting for Donovan McNabb’s pass to float into his arms. There was a miscommunication between Fred Smoot and LaRon Landry once the play broke down in the pocket and McNabb rolled out. Such errors are what prevent the Redskins from being a good team.
*Andy Reid’s call to attempt a surprise onsides kick on the opening kickoff was the most baffling coaching decision I have ever witnessed live. If he wanted the ball so badly, he should have elected to receive after winning the coin toss. And did he not realize that the Redskins’ offense is among the worst in the NFL? Kick the ball away and defend. Take the lead and then try your surprise onsides kick later. The Philadelphia writers were all over this one.
*The more I see of Devin Thomas as a kick returner, the more I believe that he should handle those duties full-time. He failed to reach the 20-yard line twice, but he’s explosive back there. Rock Cartwright hasn’t proven that he still is.
*London Fletcher seemed like his old self. He attacked the line of scrimmage aggressively in run support and he dealt a few crunching hits. He single-handedly gave DeSean Jackson a concussion with his hit over the middle.
*The game turned when the Redskins’ settled for a field goal after Justin Tryon’s interception deep in Philly territory in the fourth quarter. That kept the Eagles within one score and gave them life. A touchdown there practically seals a win. The Redskins came out conservatively there with two short runs and an incomplete pass.
*The Redskins have touted the fact that their roster is full of "character" guys, and that’s about to be put to the test. Now that they have eight losses and are assured of missing the playoffs, they’ve got five meaningless games left. So far, we have every reason to believe they’ll continue to play hard.
*That said, considering today’s and last week’s performance, I believe the Redskins will win at least once more this season. At Oakland and home against New York are looking like their two best chances.