Sunday, August 16, 2009

My Thoughts on the Redskins/Ravens Game

This was a hard game to watch for me. Not because of the final outcome (although that was hard to watch) but because pre-season is incredibly dull and each team plays theses games differently. Some teams want to win, while some are just looking at scenarios. Some are just looking at players and what they do well and what they don't do well. I'm not sure what the Redskins were trying to do this past Thursday, but the final result was a 23-0 loss and mostly more questions to be asked than questions answered.

When I watched this game I did it from two different perspectives. One was as the Redskins fan, for which I have been for a very, very long time. The second was as a football fan who wanted to analyze position performance and how individual players/units looked compared to the final score or how the team played overall. As a Redskins fan I was generally frustrated. The result was very similar to how the 2008 season ended. The offense couldn't score and the defense would give up enough to lead to a FG but made it hard for a touchdown. Also, what really bothers me about the Skins offense is that in order for them to score they have to be perfect.

How many times in 2008 do the Skins have to play perfect offense in order to score? This means no penalties, no drops, no fumbles, no sacks, no bad passes. I saw this happen again and again in this game and it bothered me. As a Redskins fan, am I in panic mode? No not yet, I saw some good things but not as much as I wanted to see and the worries from last year don't seem to be fixed as much as I'd like to see.

As a fan trying to analyze the game, here's what I thought. The Ravens won a 3 to 0 game that had some starters out there for a few series. Let's remember that Portis, Randy Thomas, Santana Moss, Carlos Rogers and Albert Haynesworth were out. Same goes for Terrell Suggs of the Ravens. Looking at first team units, this is what stood out for me: The O-line looked quite good in pass protection, something that they struggled with most of last year. Campbell also looked good, but I still worry about the speed of his delivery and his progressions. The Om Field did a pass by pass analysis of how the O-line and Campbell fared in the game. It's a great read and I fully agree with his opinion. There wasn't much of a run game and it was mostly run on the right side (Rinehart and Heyer) which is the Redskins weaker side in run blocking. The D-line looked scary on their pass rush (Andre Carter and Brian Orakpo would have had at least 3-4 sacks had they not been held so much) but looked equally atrocious in run defense. I also worry about the depth at a few positions (RB, O-line and CB) as the Skins expected players to step up and shine and very few young players and rookies did so. Zorn's "soft" comments were justified in my opinion.

Of course, you must take all of this with a huge grain of salt. Will this game tell us about the Redskins or the Ravens for that matter? No. But it will show each team what they need to work on. Even the Ravens made a boatload of mistakes (namely getting beaten by the D-line and having to hold on every play) and will get a chance to work with their team to improve. This is also a chance to look at players and figure out what they can and can't do and how to adjust your schemes to maximize the strengths and minimize the weaknesses. Finally, it's a chance to determine who really needs to be here and who doesn't. There are guys on both teams that probably wrote their tickets off this team on Thursday.

I'm going to finish this post with some players and how they performed and for this post I will use catchphrases from that last few Skins coaches to summarize how they did.

Super Smart

Brian Orakpo- So far this guy has done nothing but prove that he is the real deal when it comes to an elite pass rusher. His performance as a SOLB was ok from what I saw but still a serious work in progress. I really hope the Skins just use him mostly as a DE even if it means Carter or Daniels has to lose some snaps in the process.

Andre Carter- Also looked beast like and was literally held non-stop by Jared Gaither and other linemen to prevent Flacco from being flattened. Hope he plays like this in the regular season.

Jeremy Jarmon- For a guy who the Skins had pegged as a project in 2009 and a possible starter in 2010, Jarmon is already fighting for playing time. He was all over anybody with the ball and excelled at stopping runs but also pressuring the QB.

Todd Collins- Looked the most comfortable and had the quicker release of the three QBs. I think he's pretty much locked up the #2 spot.

DeAngelo Hall and the Red Zone D- The Ravens 1st team O had 7 chances to score from around the 10 yard line and failed. It's a good early sign. Hall's deflected pass was just a great example.

Staying Medium

Jason Campbell- Consistent, but nothing really spectacular. I'd like to see a deep pass soon, the check downs aren't doing much for me.

Chad Rinehart and Stephon Heyer- Looked good in pass protection, still need to improve upon the run game.

Chris Cooley- Nice catch early in the game but blew a block also.

Robert Henson- Made a few nice tackles and plays, but dropped a sure INT and got away with what should have been pass interference.

Need to Coach 'em Up

Fred Davis- This guy has so much talent it's amazing. But he has to learn how to hold onto the ball.......fumbles kills any "Wow Factor" that is made by a great catch and run.

Marques Hagans- Got to make the catch even if it's somewhat overthrown.

JT Tryon- Will not make this team if he isn't more physical. Nobody should get that open on a slant.

Surprise Player to Watch for Next Game
Antonio Dixon (#75)- He's a long shot for the team with the depth at the DT position, but he played very well for what I saw and much like Jarmon, was all over the ball carriers and had 5 tackles with four tackles for a loss. If he keeps playing like this, I have to think he'll earn a spot on the practice squad or find a home with another team. I guess I wasn't the only one who noticed since the Redskins wrote an article about him (read it here).

Next Game: @ FedEx vs. Pittsburgh.

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