Monday, December 27, 2010

Game Recap: Skins @ Jaguars. Bubblegum Duct Tape D Beat Jags

(Skins celebrate after a 4th and goal TD by Ryan Torain)

I think it's fair to say that the Redskins D has some issues. Many have argued that the Skins lack the personnel at many positions to run the 3-4 scheme effectively. I can't disagree, matter of fact I think the Skins could use upgrades probably on 2/3rds of it's line 1/2 of it's LB corp. and some improved depth. Then prior to the game it was revealed that Reed Doughty, Brian Orakpo and Kareem Moore were out. Plus, the Skins IRed three linemen this week (Kedric Golston, Maake Kemoeatu, Phillip Daniels) so there were some major deficits in the D this week. The Skins had to rely on guys that had either just had been signed to the roster (DE, Darrion Scott, DT/NT Joe Joseph, OLB Rob Jackson) or guys who are playing out of their natural position ("Macho" Harris and Kevin Barnes making the move from back up corners to starting safeties).

The game plan was simple. Stop the run and force David Garrard to beat you with the pass. What helped the situation was that the wind was swirling which will cause some difficulty in the pass game. Most importantly MJD was out this week, but we know that the Redskins have struggled against teams that like to run the ball and stick with it. Also, Rashad Jennings isn't a bad running back and he's averaging 5.7 yards/carry. What happened was that the plan worked to perfection. It wasn't pretty. There was some times when the Jaguar receivers were ridiculously wide open and statistically Garrard put up some decent numbers (22/38 299yds; 1 TD, 2 INT) but the Skins caused Garrard to throw 2 interceptions with a decent amount of pressure and no run game.

The Skins took an early 3-0 lead thanks to a nice KO return by Brandon Banks, a 15 yard face mask penalty on Jags kicker Josh Scobee and a 48 yard FG by Graham Gano. They followed that up on the Jags drive with a Carlos Rogers INT (Yes, I did say that!!!!) that led to a 1 yard TD pass from Grossman to Fred Davis.
(Photographic evidence that Rogers can catch and hold onto the ball. It's rare but does exist.)
The Jaguars came back to tie the game at 10-10. Then, late in the third quarter the Skins had a long 14 play, 7:50 minute drive that resulted on a 1 yard Ryan Torain TD. What stood out was that the Redskins went for the win here by going for it on 4th and 1 on the 1 yard line. Skins lead 17-10. The Jaguars rallied thanks to a poor Sal Paulescu put that gave them good field position. This lead to a long run by Garrard and a tied game at 17-17. The game heads to overtime with the Jaguars winning the toss. The Skins pressure Garrard and he throws a horrible pass that Kevin Barnes had no problems intercepting. This led to a game winning Graham Gano FG from 31 yards.

What stands out the most about this game was that the Skins kept fighting. They kept playing despite playing a team that was desperate to make the playoffs and possibly would have it they did. This has been a trend of this team for many of the games this season and hopefully that trend will stay.

Lets do some The Good, The Bad and The Ugly..........

The Good
-The No Name D. I'm not saying that this group should remain our starting group next year, but many of these players made a case to be at training camp in 2011 and possibly a chance to make the 2011 roster. The D line was primarily made up of guys who were back ups and just joined the team. Adam Carirker, Anthony Bryant, Vonnie Holiday, Jeremy Jarmon, Darrion Scott and Joe Joseph pretty much made up the line and this group actually put pressure on  David Garrard that led to four sacks and held a run first Jaguar team to only 78 yards on the ground. In particular Holliday, Bryant and Carriker stood out and Jarmon also showed something as well.

-Kevin Barnes (3 tackles, 1 INT). I was worried while he was on the Zorn/Blatche Redskins, the CB from Maryland was going to be a bust and cut because the Skins never used him. He was mostly inactive. This season Barnes has been used much more. While he hasn't become a starting corner on the squad, Barnes has shown that he can be an asset to the team both as a corner and a safety. He's a hard hitting player who can make plays and I'm glad the Skins have found a way to use him.

- Rob Jackson (3 tackles, 1 sack, 1 FF). The 2008 Redskins draft pick makes a statement in this game and is showing why the Skins have kept him around for the past three seasons.

-Graham Gano (2 FGs; long 48). This was a nice counter argument to the Tampa game of two weeks ago when you're debating whether Gano should be here or not. Gano has a very strong leg and he showed it with the long 48 yarder in swirling wind.

-Santana Moss (5 catches, 85 yards). This seems almost standard for the 'Tana Man lately. He has really thrived in what the Shanahan's have done with him this season.

-Jim Haslett and the D coaches. Not a bad job of putting a makeshift D together and shutting down a team that has been effective with their offense.

The Bad
- Instant Replay. The idea of replay is to make incorrect calls correct. Mistakes happen and in a game where things move so fast there is no surprise that a ref. will miss something or make a bad call. Replay was designed to help give the refs. a chance to see the mistake in slow motion and to make the right call. How is this system working when the wrong call is made after replay? I refer to the Rex Grossman INT in the end zone. I've seen the footage and there is no way that was an INT. The DB did not have two feet in. Remember when I said Refs. should be fined if the NFL is going out of their way to fine players? This is an example of why I suggested this.

- Stephon Heyer. Still gets beaten regularly when playing RT. I really think the Skins need to address the depth at RT next year behind Jammal Brown.

- Chris Cooley (5 catches, 48 yards). Not a bad game and had a much better second half, but the 3-4 drops indicates more of a bad day than a good one. I will note that Cooley looked good blocking also.

- Sal Paulescu. All I heard on the radio for most of the game was Larry Michael saying a short, line drive kick. It helped the Jaguars field position and his last punt gave the Jags. great field position.

- Playcalling (Kyle Shanahan). It's windy and cold, you have a good RB in Torain and Williams has been decent. Why do you throw the ball 39 times and run only 24? I'm a Redskin fan of the old Gibbs/Bugel philosophy of "run the ball down your throat", so why didn't the Skins run more? Or is this just more opportunity to evaluate Grossman in adverse weather conditions?

The Ugly
- Rex Grossman is an ok QB, but an interim QB at best. Grossman does know this system and seems to be much more comfortable in it and his reads than McNabb appeared to be. Grossman also seems to be able to help the Redskins put more points up (50 points in two weeks) than McNabb. That said, Grossman has very little mobility which is a detriment in a system that uses bootlegs to run play action and gives the QB the option to make a play with his legs. Grossman also makes mistakes, especially under pressure and his arm isn't the strongest. Would Grossman be an ok option for the Skins in 2011 if they draft a QB in the 1st? Yes. Is he a long term solution? No.

Adam Carriker's 1st career sack as a Redskin
Rob Jackson's 1st career sack and forced fumble.
Jeremy Jarmon's 1st career sack (technically a 1/2 sack shared with Andre Carter)
Terrence Austin's 1st career reception

- Skins are still terrible at 3rd down conversions. 4/15 (26%) is still lousy. I think part of the blame again come from throwing the ball too much on 1st and 2nd down.

- Santana Moss has topped the 1,000 yard mark for the 4th time in his career (3 with Washington in 2005, 2008 and 2010). Moss has also tied a career best with 84 catches this season. One catch against the Giants and he'll break that career best.

-Sam Huff is interesting to listen to on the radio. More on this in a second, but I wound up hearing most of the game on the radio with Larry, Sonny and Sam. Let's just say that Sam is absolutely crazy. Multiple times he made comments where Larry or Sonny had to correct him. Multiple times Sam wanted to go for it on 4th and short even though the Skins were on their side of the field. Sam Huff is the president of the London Fletcher fan club and is absolutely stunned that Fletcher doesn't make every play. After Larry said that the Jags won the toss in overtime and the Skins kicked off, Sam asked how the Jags got the ball. On Carlos Rogers being injured- "he's always hurt, when isn't he hurt". On Gano's game winning attempt- "he better make this or he'll be on the next train outta here".

- Skins make a new record in # of overtime games played this year (4). Skins are 1 OT game away from tying the league record.

- Skins are 3-1 in overtime this year and have lost the coin toss in all four overtime games. So much for the need to change the overtime rules huh?

- Skins end the season 4-4 in away games. Actually, that's a pretty good road record. If only they could win at home, the Skins could be pretty scary.

- Skins finish 2-2 against the AFCS. Not bad since many considered at least 3 of the 4 teams as possible playoff contenders going into the 2010 season. Surprisingly, only one team will represent the AFCS in the playoffs.

- Skins go 6-9 which is not good for them in their hopes to get a better draft pick. That said, the team needed it and you could tell that for a team that will at best be 7-9 that they really were thrilled to pull of the victory and was important for the team to pull out the win in Jacksonville.

-I missed most of the game on TV. I got called in to the real job for a work related emergency. The roads were horrible and I had to brave through almost a foot of snow in some parts, but the task was accomplished. I love my car (Honda) it gets me through all kinds of crap weather.

Next week......the Skins finish the 2010 season with the Giants heading into FedEx.

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