Monday, August 23, 2010

Game Recap: Ravens vs. Skins (Pre-Season)

(It looked good early, but it didn't get any better. Photo:WD)
It's tough to really rate this game. There were some good things going for the Skins and clearly some things that were bad. You have to treat this game just like the Bills game. Learn from the mistakes and try to repeat the things that worked well. Coincidentally, "Staying Medium" works for the first two games. The Skins aren't winning a Super Bowl based on beating the Bills and they're not going 4-12 in 2010 based on this game against the Ravens. If anything it just confirms something that most Redskin fans should already know: we're better than the really bad Bills but not as good as the potential Super Bowl contending Ravens. So take the below advice:
(Words of wisdom provided by the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy)
The Skins 1st team hung with the Ravens and most of the 1st half was tied until the Ravens decided to run a fake punt that put the Ravens right on the goal line and led to the first TD given up by the 1st team defense. After that, it was really no contest. The Ravens are just a deeper team and it showed. What also showed was that the Ravens game planned for the Skins. From fake punts, to exotic blitzes, to multiple reverses and a Jim Zorn Gatorade shower it was clear that the Ravens were dead set on winning this game. The Skins on the other hand apparently played a very "vanilla" offense and defense. I personally think Shanahan was looking at individual performance over scheme in this one.

Ok, since this is a little late, let's put this game out of it's misery with a Good, Bad and Ugly.

The Good
- 3rd down conversions. One thing that I've noticed about Donovan McNabb vs. Jason Campbell or any other Redskins QB going back even into most of Gibbs 2.0 was the ability to convert third downs. Before McNabb if it was 3rd and 5, the Redskins would get 4 yards. That scenario happened frequently and it would drive me nuts. McNabb however is quite the opposite. If it's 3rd and 14, he'll get 17 yards. If it's 3rd and eight, he'll get 12. I love that.

- Santana Moss in the slot. Moss had 4 catches for 79 yards and couldn't hold onto a fifth catch. Notice where most of the passes were thrown? That's right, in the middle of the field. Moss dominated mismatches  and used his speed to get open. Meanwhile McNabb gave himself enough time to let Moss get open and then threw some nice bullets to the 'Tana Man. The time McNabb threw the INT? A deep pass on the side of the field while Moss was in double coverage. Expect Moss to own the slot this year.

- Chris Cooley (2 catches, 33yds.). He may not be the fastest, most athletic TE in the game but Cooley has a talent for which he is extremely gifted. He always finds a knack for getting open. Expect to hear McNabb to Cooley often this year.

- Clinton Portis (2 carries, 14 yds; 1 catch, 5 yds). Ran with some burst and seemed to be the only back who could do anything against the Raven's run defense. Also, still a hard core pass blocker. Pretty much solidified his #1 RB status (that and some mediocre performances by the other RBs) after this game.

-Anthony Armstrong (4 catches, 82 yards). The 2nd week in a row where Armstrong stands out with most of the 1st team. He had split double coverage on the 45 yard bomb from McNabb. Had the ball not been under thrown, he would have had a TD. That said, Armstrong adjusted to the ball and made a beautiful sliding catch. On another play, he had beaten coverage deep but was overthrown. I have to think Armstrong has earned a roster spot at this point.

- Redskins 1st team D. Joe Flacco didn't look that great against the Skins and wound up many time looking off receivers to find Derrick Mason at all costs. The run D was somewhat improved as I noticed better technique and better containment by the linebackers. Ray Rice looked like he was on his way to a 100yd rushing performance had he played the entire game. The rest of the Ravens running backs, however were contained or shut down. In two games, the starting D has only given up 1 TD and that one TD was on a goal line run thanks to the fake punt.

- Tackling looked better. Last week, the Skins tackling looked poor. This week it was better with less arm tackling and better technique. Some players could still improve, but over all a better performance.

-1st team secondary. Carlos Rogers played some amazing coverage. He blanketed most of the guys he was covering. He made some nice tackles as well. On the other hand, DeAngelo Hall isn't know for his tackling prowess but he made some very nice hits/tackles against the Ravens. LaRon Landry has finally been put in a place where he can excel. He never was a FS like Sean Taylor and even with his speed and agility, he thrives in the box wreaking havoc near the ball. Man, I would have loved to seen Area 51 in 2010.

- Rocky McIntosh. A very nice pass defection early in the game thanks to some tight coverage. Made some nice tackles. He looks like he likes the 3-4 better than the 4-3.

- London Fletcher. Just because.

The Bad
- Larry Johnson (8 carries, 4 yds). The run game was pretty non-existent so it's hard to fully blame Johnson for that performance. But, he didn't have that much burst and was slow to hit the briefly opened holes. Add the bobbled /dropped pass and some weak pass blocking and you can't consider this to be a good day by any stretch. The only silver lining for Johnson is that none of the other RBs not named Portis had a good night either.

- Donovan McNabb (11/26, 206, 1 INT). The pass yards look good but the execution to get those yards didn't look so good. McNabb threw behind many WRs and on one catch, Anthony Armstrong had to make an amazing play on the ball that was practically behind him. He also under threw Armstrong on one play (luckily Armstrong turned it into a 45 yard catch) and over threw on another. The INT was just a bad decision. He also missed both Portis and Sellers who were wide open in the flat. Hard to blame McNabb for all of this however. He was getting pressured frequently and had some of his passes dropped.

- Too Many Drops. Chris Cooley, Santana Moss, Fred Davis (for a TD no less), Larry Johnson, Mike Sellers. Way too many dropped passes. And I'm sure I didn't think of everybody (Devin Thomas I'm sure dropped one as well).

- O-line Struggled. Every unit struggled in one form or another. There was little to no run game. The team struggled in pass protection. Honestly, Stephon Heyer probably had the best night against the Ravens. Trent Williams looked good early against Suggs. But as the game progressed, he really struggled with him. Welcome to the NFL Mr. Williams.

- Special Teams Awareness. The fake punt was a great lesson for the Redskins and frankly, I'm glad John Harbaugh ran it. I hope the Skins learn a valuable lesson. Also, H.B. Blades has to make that tackle. After him there's nothing to stop the runner.

- The Refs. Baltimore fans are convinced that the NFL and the refs are out to get them. SHD is convinced that the Refs made favorable calls to help the Steelers win their last two Lombardi's (seriously, just ask him). Last year, the Raven fanbase were so convinced that they were being screwed by the NFL that fans dressed up as blind refs at home games.
(The Insane Clown Posse and Blind Ref watch on, Al Roker doesn't look happy. pic via KSK)
Of course in this game Michael Oher held Brian Orakpo so much that it was amazing that Orkapo had any remnants of a jersey left by the end of the game (noticed this when I watched the game a 2nd time at home). I also didn't understand what was with the late hits out of bounds. Dawan Landry played like his brother by hitting guys late out of bounds multiple times. But, unlike his brother in previous years, was never called for a single penalty. It wouldn't have changed the outcome of the game, but I just wanted to let the Ravens fans know that they don't always get screwed. Not the worst called game I've seen. Not even close. Matter of fact they made some good calls about forward progress, upheld a call correctly on replay and many of the penalties called were valid.

The Ugly
- Not much to say here. The Skins have a lot of work to do and sadly suffered some injuries in the process. Then you add Albert Haynesworth to the mix and things get real stupid. Hopefully, the Jets game will be better. But if McNabb, Seller and Moore are possible scratches, it will be hard to see the Redskins improving upon last week's problems.

Up Next: J-E-T-S and Rex, Rex, Rex!

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