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 15: Game Balls, Gassers and Observations
My recap of the best and worst performances from the Redskins’ 45-12 loss to the New York Giants on Monday night, plus a few observations.
***After watching this game twice, I simply can’t give out any game balls. No one played well enough. Instead, I’ll note some positive plays that I saw:
*TE Fred Davis did well to gain yards after the catch and break a tackle on his second-half touchdown catch.
*Nice job of blocking by LT Levi Jones, TE Fred Davis and FB Mike Sellers on RB Quinton Ganther’s touchdown run to the left pylon. They slowed up the defense just enough to give Ganther adequate running room.
*RG Mike Williams opened a huge hole for RB Marcus Mason’s 20-yard run on third-and-1 in the third quarter. RT Will Robinson and TE Fred Davis combined to seal the other edge.
*CB DeAngelo Hall defended well on the first two plays of the second drive, his first two plays since returning from a three-week absence. He ran with WR Steve Smith on a deep go route down the right sideline, and he drove powerfully to get inside WR Hakeem Nicks and break up a quick slant to the right.
*DT Albert Haynesworth and DE Brian Orakpo worked well together on a stunt to get Haynesworth a first-half sack. Orakpo exploded hard to the inside and effectively picked the blocker responsible for Haynesworth. Haynesworth was patient and waited for Orakpo to do his thing before bursting quickly around the outside, where QB Eli Manning had drifted.
*DL Lorenzo Alexander used a fantastic spin move to get around Giants G Chris Snee for his second-half sack. It was a superb individual effort.
*OLB Rocky McIntosh took out the lead blocker on second-and-goal from the 2 on the first drive, and that allowed MLB London Fletcher to plug the hole and tackle RB Brandon Jacobs head-on.
LT Levi Jones: Jones really struggled, as did much of the offensive line. There simply was too much pressure on the quarterback for the offense to be effective. As for Jones, DE Osi Umenyiora beat him for a sack one-on-one after Jones’ initial punch was ineffective. DE Mathias Kiwanuka blew up a run on the first play of the third quarter by getting leverage underneath Jones and driving him into the backfield.
LB/DE Brian Orakpo: He was beaten in pass coverage several times. Once, TE Kevin Boss slid inside him on a square-in when Orakpo peeked into the backfield. He also got picked by a referee on a big second-half gain. Giants QB Eli Manning was too comfortable in the pocket.
FS Kareem Moore: Moore hasn’t impressed since he started playing more following Chris Horton’s season-ending injury. He took a bad angle on WR Hakeem Nicks in the second quarter, and that allowed Nicks to gain more than 20 yards after the catch. He also was late getting over on WR Derek Hagan’s touchdown catch near the right sideline in the third quarter.
RG Mike Williams: He didn’t pick up Giants DE Justin Tuck on an inside stunt in the first quarter, and Tuck burst through to sack QB Jason Campbell. Williams and backup RT Will Robinson did better on stunts after that. The Redskins’ 2-point conversion attempt in the third quarter failed when Williams kept his head down off the snap, allowing Giants DT Barry Cofield to swim past him and make the tackle.
CB Justin Tryon: Was victimized on WR Steve Smith’s second-quarter touchdown catch after he gave up the outside despite having inside help. It was one of many mental mistakes by the Redskins’ secondary.
DT Kedric Golston: Didn’t do well enough holding his ground against linemen, especially in one-on-one blocks. Too often the Giants were able to send blockers into the second level. He was looking back into the Redskins’ secondary when the Giants snapped the ball on their last touchdown, so he provided no pass rush. Also, the lineman who blocked the extra point surged through between Golston and LS Ethan Albright. It was a rare down performance for him.
S LaRon Landry: Had a couple of spectacular missed tackles. He whiffed on a kill shot against WR Hakeem Nicks during the Giants’ second touchdown drive, and Nicks gained more than 10 additional yards. He was part of a communication breakdown with CB DeAngelo Hall on the Giants’ final touchdown.
*The Giants’ offensive and defensive lines dominated this game. On offense, it seemed that QB Eli Manning had hours to scan the field and throw. In the running game, linemen too easily got to linebackers in the second level. Redskins MLB London Fletcher’s Pro Bowl hopes might have been dashed because he had offensive linemen on him all game.
*In a related note, the Redskins’ coverage was often too soft on third downs. With the D-line not getting much pressure, receivers were too open. It was just too easy for Manning.
*I didn’t give QB Jason Campbell a gasser because he was totally battered throughout the game. He’s incredibly tough, as evidenced by his plea to re-enter the game after halftime. He also did well on several scrambles. But two things: the interception that was returned by CB Terrell Thomas for a touchdown was a badly overthrown screen pass. Also, Campbell was flagged for intentional grounding in the second quarter because he didn’t get the ball back to the line of scrimmage after leaving the pocket. He has to know that rule and use it to his advantage.
*No gasser, either, for RT Will Robinson. He didn’t play well, but no one can blame him. Injuries and poor planning by the front office landed him in a no-win situation.
*The Giants effectively and repeatedly pulled backup left guard Kevin Boothe during a dominant first half. After LG Rich Seubert went down with a knee injury on the first touchdown run, Boothe filled in exceptionally well. He sealed DE Phillip Daniels on a couple of counter plays and led the charge on RB Ahmad Bradshaw’s touchdown run early in the second quarter by blocking OLB Rocky McIntosh.
*New York ran five screens in the first half, effectively using the aggressiveness of the Redskins’ defensive line against it. The New Orleans Saints took a similar approach two games prior.
*The Redskins averaged only 14.9 yards on eight kickoff returns. That is a horrible average. WR Devin Thomas had three for only 12.7. Yikes.
*Redskins running backs continue to be uneven in pass protection. When considering RB Clinton Portis’ return next season, the team must take his exceptional pass-protection skills into account.
*I was amused when ESPN’s Jon Gruden started talking about how injuries affect teams and how coaches take blame for poor play sometimes. "The players also have a lot to do with it," he said. That’s important to keep in mind as the Redskins look for a new coach. A gourmet chef can’t make a good meal if he has rotten ingredients.
*The fake field goal at the end of the first half was bad. Once the Redskins saw that the Giants kept several guys lined up over center Todd Yoder (likely the intended target of the play; he was an eligible receiver), they should have taken a delay of game (they were out of timeouts) and kicked the field goal.
*Did you notice on TE Fred Davis’ touchdown catch, ESPN’s Mike Tirico used, "Touchdown, Washington Redskins!" as his call? Memories of Frank Herzog on the radio with that one.
*After watching QB Jason Campbell get beaten up in the first half, Sherm Lewis went to Washington’s bread-and butter bootleg play several times in the second half. The misdirection helped a bit.
*DL Renaldo Wynn made his season debut and played sparingly in the first half.