Monday, October 25, 2010

Game Recap: Skins @ Bears

Hail Victory!
(Two of today's heroes celebrate D. Hall's TD. Photo via via AP)
I know, I know the first game recap in a matter of four weeks. I actually skipped the Initial Thoughts post since I watched most of this game in it's entirety. But I'll be real quick and sum up the last three games in two words or less.
vs. Eagles: Discipline
vs. Packers: Tenaciousness/Toughness
vs. Colts: Missed Opportunities

There, now we can talk about today's game.

 Today's game was a game that fans of defense will probably love and fans of smooth, high scoring offense will probably hate. It was a game where the 8th ranked Bears defense had to prove why they're ranked so high and the 32nd ranked Redskins defense are much better than their rankings suggest. Let's face it. Neither the Bears or Redskins offensive lines are that great and it showed as both quarterbacks were frequently hit, hurried and sacked. The Redskins also didn't help themselves with multiple drops of easily catchable balls, fumbles, missed blocks, missed field goals and poor decisions.

In the end what this game came down to was field position (ie. who could take advantage of a shortened field) and turnovers. The Redskins forced six Bear turnovers (2 fumbles, 4 INT); the Bears had only 3 (1 fumble, 2 INT). Both scored a TD on a turnover. Both teams had one touchdown drive that started around their own 30. Both teams had occasions to get the ball near mid-field. On one of many occasions, the Redskins finally took advantage of a short field and converted a 46yd. Graham Gano field goal. Outside of that, you're mostly talking about what each of the defenses did and how good they looked.

The Redskins defense took advantage of a bad Bears offensive line and the fact that Jay Cutler makes some mistakes with both decisions and technique. Also what helps is that both Devin Hester and Johnny Knox is that they are incredibly fast, but aren't big WRs and are inconsistent (they like to drop passes as well). For some reason, they don't know how to use TE Greg Olsen (I'd use him like Cooley or Davis). I also never fully understood the love of Mike Martz's scheme. Outside of his run with "The Greatest Show on Turf", his scheme just tends to cause multiple sacks and interceptions (maybe Kurt Warner is the only guy who can run that scheme?). Martz doesn't like to run the ball either; which again could have really helped the Bears (the Bears were having success running the ball when they had a WR package forcing the Skins to bring out their nickle/dime packages- thus you lose better run stopping LBs and D-linemen). The Bears RBs had 13 carries for 61 yards. You'd think maybe you'd stick to the run a bit more with those stats. The pass rush was good (not on the Giants level of good however) and it did enough to fluster Jay Cutler. In the end it was DeAngelo Hall that read exactly where Cutler was going with the ball.

It was funny to listen to Troy Aikman call the game. After Hall started to make interceptions, Aikman was surprised that the Bears didn't try to go deep on Hall. He stated this because Hall was jumping the routes (ran by both Devin Hester and Johnny Knox) to make three interceptions. During his last comment, the Bears took his advice and Cutler threw to Knox deep only to be picked off again by Hall. It looked to me that Hall was reading Cutler's eyes/head on every interception. Add that neither Knox or Hester was getting little separation made it pretty easy. Also, give Hall credit on the TD. He made a nice one handed catch while leaping and then stayed inbounds for a 92 yard run. I have more to say on some of the guys on D who stood out, but I'll save that for Good, Bad, Ugly.

One silver lining for the Skins offense is that they've finally developed a running game. Ryan Torain looked good and actually had some holes to run through. Was the running game perfect? Not by any stretch. But what I am noticing is that the TEs (Cooley, Davis, Paulsen) seem to be doing a better job sealing guys off. I'm seeing a few guys doing a better job getting to the second level. I'm seeing less caving of the O-line which totally destroys a stretch play. Also, less holding.

OK enough about the game. Let's do some The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

The Good

- DeAngelo Hall (7 tackles, 4 INTs, 1 TD). Made some nice tackles and.....ARE YOU KIDDING ME? 4 INTERCEPTIONS IN THE 2nd HALF!!!!!!! For the second time this year, Hall has scored a TD that has pretty much won the game for the Skins. Amazing for a guy that was traded from Atlanta to Oakland for being a locker room cancer and then cut by Oakland b/c they thought he couldn't cover anybody. Note to Carlos Rogers: I personally think you're a better tackler and cover corner than D. Hall, but there is a clear cut reason why he gets the big contracts from teams. DeAngelo Hall is a playmaker. He takes advantage of mistakes and either picks off passes or returns fumbles for TDs. If only you can learn to pick off passes 'Los you could get an equally large contract and be considered one of the top corners in the league. Again kudos to D. Hall who was frustrated this week with his coaches and had a sore back, but still made the Bears pay.

- Albert Haynesworth (3 tackles, 1 sack). Haynesworth set the tone early in the game by sacking (1st sack of the year BTW) Jay Cutler by throwing the guy blocking him (Chris Williams) into the hapless QB. During his time on the field, Haynesworth made some very key plays including blowing up a Chester Taylor run on 3rd and 1 in the 2nd quarter and stuffing Jay Cutler at the goal line in the third quarter (not only preventing a TD but giving London Fletcher the opportunity to cause a fumble). Haynesworth did a decent job collapsing the pocket on many pass plays as well. I think the Redskins may have figured out how to use him and I think Haynesworth may have finally bought into the scheme. It's about time.

- Brian Orakpo (4 tackles, 2 sacks). Gave the Bears fits all day long. Not even sure how many times he hurried Jay Cutler, but it was a lot. Needs to do a better job preventing the two offside penalties he got during the game however.

- Rocky McIntosh (8 tackles, 1 sack, 1FF). Nice job just covering the field and pulverizing anybody that gets near you with a ball. The forced fumble was a key play late in the game.

- London Fletcher (8 tackles, 1 FF). Does what he always does. The fumble was key to keep the Redskins in the game at that point.

- Other D performances: Laron Landry, Carlos Rogers, Lorenzo Alexander, Adam Carriker. Solid performances.

- Santana Moss (5 catches, 63yds, 1TD). Another solid performance that leads to his 2nd TD of the season.

- Ryan Torain (21 carries, 125yds). A great performance that was almost perfect except for 1 lost fumble.

The Bad
- Dropped Passes. I can think of two easily dropped passes by Chris Cooley and Anthony Armstrong that just have to be caught. Also, I think Moss dropped an easy pass. Not every pass is catchable and sometimes defenders make good plays on the ball that makes it hard to hold onto a pass, but in a few of these cases the ball needs to be caught. It just kills a drive.

- Fumbles. Ryan Torain had two fumbles and lost one of them that killed a drive (the other was recovered by Anthony Armstrong). Donovan McNabb had two fumbles but was able to recover both. Chris Cooley had a fumble and was able to make a smart play to bat it out of bounds, but it cost the Redskins 10 yards and eventually killed a drive (leading to a missed Graham Gano FG). Got to work on the fumbles, but I'll also give Charles Tillman some credit for forcing 2 fumbles.

- Graham Gano. Made a difficult 46 yard FG but them misses a much easier 37 yard FG late in the game.

- Donovan McNabb (17/32 200yds, 1 TD, 2 INT). Just looked off during most of the game. Although I can't fully blame him since he was being pressured most of the game. That said, the blitz that led to the INT for a TD was something he missed on the read. Also the two INTs were bad passes.

The Ugly
- This was Mike Shanahan's 150 regular season win. He now has more regular season victories than Bill Cowher.

- The Redskins were 2/13 on 3rd  downs. They still haven't figured out how to improve that stat.

- Donovan McNabb is 5-1 all time in Chicago.

- Ryan Torain has had his 2nd 100+ yard rushing game in a row. The last time this was done, it was by Clinton Portis in 2008.

- Santana Moss is 5th overall in receptions and receiving yards in the league*. Based on his performance so far, he is on pace to top some of his career seasonal stats.

- DeAngelo Hall currently leads the league with 5 INTs.* Could he be Pro Bowl bound?

- Laron Landry and London Fletcher are currently tied for third in the league with 68 tackles.*

- Brian Orakpo currently has 7 sacks on the season and is third in the league with sacks.* It looks like he'll surpasses his sack total from 2009 (11).

- The Skins are now 4-3 and if the Giants lose to Dallas on Monday will be in sole possession of 1st place based on their divisional record. Despite losing 3 games, the Redskins have a very good NFC record at 4-1. This is key for tiebreakers in playoff scenarios if that is all possible (at this point I am still convinced that the Skins aren't playoff bound).

- Kevin Sheehan on the Redskins pre-game mentioned that on the day Jay Cutler was traded from Denver to Chicago, the Redskins had a deal in place to give up 2 1st round picks and 2 3rd round pick for Cutler. It just happened that Chicago trumped the offer by giving up their two 1st rounders, a 3rd rounder and Kyle Orton. Thank you Chicago!!!! Can you imagine a Redskins team without Brian Orakpo and Trent Williams?

Next week, a return to the place that meant the end of the Jim Zorn (and thankfully Vinny Cerrato) era......Detroit!!!!

* This as of week 7 prior to the MIN@ GB and NY@DAL games.

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