Saturday, September 24, 2011

Game Recap: Cardinals/ Redskins Week 2


I think the defensive coordinator of the Arizona Cardinals watched the Giants @ Redskins game from last week and determined that the Redskins struggled the most when they were blitzed. While I don't have a stat. for every time the Cardinals decided to blitz in this game, it must have been well over 50%. As poorly as the O-line struggled in week 1, they did a good job picking up the blitzers in week 2. The lone sack on Rex Grossman was more on Tim Hightower not being able to get to FS, Kerry Rhodes than the O-line failing to block a lineman or linebacker. The run game was also much improved as the Redskins accumulated 172 total yards on the ground.

Want to know something interesting?

They can be even better. One of the things that I noticed while at FedEx and it drove me crazy so much that during my Initial Thoughts I gave a little grief to ESPN 980's post-game show about their praise of the O-line was that had one more block been made or if one block had been finished just a bit longer, the Skins RBs would have scored a few TDs. Perfect example was in the 4th quarter on the Cardinals 37. The Skins ran a play to Roy Helu up the middle. Kory Lichtensteiger had gotten ahead of Helu to block, but failed to get to LB O'Brien Schofield who made the tackle. Mind you, Helu had already gained 9 yards, but you see what I mean. With Helu's speed and a clear lane maybe he scores on the play. It was little things like this throughout the game that hurt the Redskins or at least cost them larger gains.

The Skins opened the game with two very strong, time consuming drives. They moved the ball with ease each time until Rex Grossman was intercepted. The first interception was a classic bad decision as Grossman tried to force a ball to Santana Moss in double coverage. No one was open, but Moss did get some separation from his man coverage and Grossman tried to get it to him. Unfortunately, the ball was wide and the safety (Wilson) read the play perfectly for an INT. The second interception was due towards a tipped ball on Anthony Armstrong. What the refs missed was that Armstrong's left arm was being held by corner A.J. Jefferson. Armstrong tried to make a one handed catch and instead the ball deflected for the INT.

The thing that seems to stand out about Rex Grossman so far is that he shrugs off the good and the bad and continues to make better decisions. After throwing the first pick, Grossman faced a similar situation later in the game where everybody was covered and yet it was 3rd down. Grossman threw the ball away instead of forcing a pass and possibly throwing another INT. Sadly, a few Redskins fans didn't get what Grossman was trying to do and booed him. It's this type of smart play that will give the Skins at least an opportunity to score a FG and not shift momentum to the opposing team. Grossman also did do a good job of making sure that if his pass was batted at the O-line, the ball went incomplete. Grossman saw the deflected pass and spiked the ball like a volleyball. This happened twice and it possibly saved the Skins two interceptions. Grossman also did a good job leading the team late in the game and getting them to score 9 points in the final 10 or so minutes to take the lead.

The defense had another good game but at times struggled. At times (especially in the 3rd quarter) they struggled against the run. 2 TDs were from a missed or blown coverage. Overall, this defense is just so much better than the team that played this scheme last year.

Time for The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.


The Good



Tim Hightower (20 carries, 96 yards; 1 catch, 10 yards) - This was the game he wanted to win most of all and he got his wish. Made another nice tackle on one of the two Grossman interceptions. So far, Hightower has shown through two games that he can be a RB that can take 20 carries a game and give you positive results.

Roy Helu (10 carries, 74 yards; 3 catches, 38 yards) - What an amazing game for the rookie. Yes, I have to remind you that Helu is a rookie. He sure didn't look like a rookie out there on Sunday. Helu's ability to cut super quick and his homerun speed is just fun to watch.

Fred Davis (6 catches, 86 yards; 1 TD)- Davis is getting wide open frequently, he's becoming a legitimate pass catching threat.

Santana Moss (5 catches, 61 yards, 1TD) - Another solid performance. He always finds a way to make a key play when his team needs him the most.

Rex Grossman (25/43, 295 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT) - Not his best game but when has a Redskins QB lead a team back late in the 4th quarter to win a game?

O-line - Showed that this team is very hard to stop when the run game is working. Pass blocking was better this week as well.

Mike Shanahan -  Going for it on 4th and 3 was a well calculated risk. Scoring the touchdown makes him look like the coach that won two Superbowls than going 6-10 last year.

London Fletcher (5 tackles, 1 INT) - Just all over the field making plays


Brian Orakpo (1 tackle, 1 sack, 1 FF) - Was putting the pressure on Kolb for a large portion of the day. This picture (Below) sums up Sunday's performance.
(Photo: AP/US Presswire)

Ryan Kerrigan (3 tackles, 1 sack)- Kerrigan tipped a Kevin Kolb pass that led to a London Fletcher interception. Also Kerrigan put a great deal of pressure on Kevin Kolb and looked better in pass coverage this week.

The Bad

Batted Balls- The Redskins had at least 6 passes either tipped or batted down during the game. Who's to blame? Hard to say. It's a combination of a few things including Grossman's height, a decent push by Arizona's D-line and the height of Arizona's D-linemen (they realized they weren't going to get a sack to they got their hands up instead).

Danny Smith- The Cardinals found some holes in the Redskins FG blocking scheme and overloaded areas that led to the blocked FG. The Cardinals also blocked another  two kicks as rookie Patrick Peterson nearly leaped to block the kick. Skins mus get this fixed. Also, why are the Redskins punting to Peterson (a legitimate PR threat) late in the game? If not for a great hit/tackle by punter Sav Rocca who knows how far Peterson returns the punt. It didn't look like Rocca was trying to punt the ball out of bounds.

Play Calling- Maybe it's just me, but I felt the Redskins at times ran when they should have passed and passed when they should have run. I know, I know I'm being a Monday morning quarterback.


Time Clock Management- Thought the final minute plus of management by the refs, game clock operator was lousy. Frequent stops to make corrections and yet the clock was still not right. Luckily, the extra time given did not effect the outcome of the game.

"Bad" Rex- Saw more of the classic Rex Grossman this week. Terrible decision to throw the ball on the first interception. Also, threw a few other passes that were very questionable and could have been picked off. Something to watch in future games.

Red Zone efficiency- 2/7 (28%). So, the Redskins can get into the Red Zone but then struggles to score once they get there. It wasn't a problem last week, so hopefully the Skins can fix this problem.

The Ugly

- Santana Moss catches his 600th pass. Moss currently sits at 604 career receptions. With his role in this system and the pace he has been on it's not out of the realm of possibility that Moss could come close to somebody like an Art Monk (940). Moss is in his 11th season, Monk played in 16 seasons.

- The Arizona game is only the 5th game in which Chris Cooley played and did not catch a pass. This was the first home game that Cooley did not catch a pass. Cooley was targeted at least twice that I saw and sadly was open for a big gain on one of the passes.......but the ball was deflected.

- New Cheer for Redskins fans/FedEx crowd. Over the years, the Redskin fan base have embraced a few player names and when they make a big play shout it out. Examples: Fred SMOOOOOOT or Chris COOOOOLEY. On Sunday, the Skins got a new one in Roy HELUUUUUUUUUU.

- 3rd down conversions are still a problem. The 'Skins are 11/32 (34%) on 3rd down conversions over two games. This needs to get better if they are able to sustain drives.

- DeAngelo Hall is a #1 CB. We all know DeAngelo Hall's game. He's a playmaker. He takes risks to make interceptions and knock down passes. Many would put him as a #2 CB on most rosters because most teams like to have a shutdown corner (the #1 CB) and then a corner who can make plays when the ball gets thrown his way. Is Hall a shutdown corner? Probably not. That said, he takes on the best WRs in the game and does handle them well. Hall shadowed Larry Fitzgerald on 44 of 48 Arizona plays last week. Fitzgerald went  7 catches, 133 yards and 1 TD. Remove the lone TD and Fitzgerald is a paltry 6 catches, 60 yards. Hall's improved coverage with improved tackling really has made him a legitimate #1 corner in the league.

- The 4th and 3 play wasn't designed to be a TD. Rex Grossman said that the design of the play was to hit the WR in the flat and get the first down. However, on this attempt, the player was covered in the flat. Grossman saw Moss uncovered in the end zone. A good pass and catch later the Redskins score a key TD.

- I couldn't watch the game winning FG. With a block and two nearly blocked XP/FGs and last weeks miss, I just couldn't watch it. While the crowd in my section was standing, I'm sitting in my seat eyes closed waiting for the crowd to cheer or boo. They cheered.

- Rex Grossman line over 2 weeks: 46/77, 596 yards; 4TDs, 2 INTs, 5 sacks, 1 fumble, 90.6 QB rating. Not elite numbers but pretty good numbers. I'll take it.

- Tony Romo's broken rib(s). The injury was caused by a hit by former Redskin Carlos Rogers.
(Fred Davis and co. celebrates, a fan signals Touchdown!!!)
It wasn't a pretty win, but a win is a win is a win.
Next Up: How 'bout 'dem Cowboys?












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