Monday, September 27, 2010

Rams 30, Redskins 16: a familiar feeling returns

In the first two weeks of the season, the Redskins gave up a lot of yards. In the Week 1 Redskins win over Dallas, the Cowboys gained 380 yards but were held to just seven points. Then in a Week 2 shootout, the Texans gained a whopping 526 yards and earned a comeback victory in a 30-27 win over the Redskins. In two weeks, that adds up to 906 yards -- way too many to give up. Still, traveling to St. Louis to play the Rams, the Redskins were supposed to blitz and confuse a rookie quarterback, Sam Bradford, starting only his third NFL game.

And that didn't happen. Instead, Bradford completed 23 of 37 passes for 235 yards and a touchdown as the Rams outplayed the Redskins and won, 30-16. Most of Bradford's passes were short ones, but that strategy worked to perfection since not only did it get the ball out of Bradford's hands quickly, but it also forced the Redskins linebackers to cover, which didn't work out very well for Washington. Failing to really pressure and frustrate Bradford -- the Redskins only had one sack, by Brian Orakpo -- the Redskins allowed 30 points and 365 yards to, at the very least, an average Rams team.

One of the main reasons that the Redskins hired Jim Haslett and switched to the 3-4 defense was to get more pressure on opposing quarterbacks and create more turnovers. Against the Rams, the Redskins got a Kareem Moore interception, but that was their only turnover besides a Rams fumble on a kickoff return. One sack and one forced turnover simply isn't enough, especially against the Rams. And with their next four games against the Eagles, Packers, Colts, and Bears, not only is the subpar defense going to be under attack, but the Redskins missed a golden opportunity to move to 2-1 with the toughest part of their schedule coming.

The defense was pretty bad; the offense wasn't much better. Donovan McNabb played just about as well as Bradford, which isn't a good thing. He finished 19-32 for 236 yards and also had one touchdown pass and one interception. He looked OK, but the offense only scored three points in the second half and couldn't get anything going. The offense also couldn't sustain many drives in the second half, and, for the game, the Rams dominated the time-of-possession margin by nearly 10 minutes.

Removing McNabb's two runs for 25 yards, the Redskins averaged over six yards per carry (15 rushes for 91 yards) in the running game. Ryan Torain, recently activated from the practice squad, had seven carries for 46 yards; Clinton Portis had seven carries for 44 yards. But even though the running game was better this week, it didn't lead to more points.

The one player who had a great game was Santana Moss -- six catches for 124 yards and a touchdown -- but even he had a horrible fumble early in the game that set the Rams up for their second touchdown. Besides the second quarter, when the Redskins outscored the Rams 13-0, just about nothing went right.

Yesterday, neither the offense nor defense were good enough to win -- a very scary thought for the rest of the season. And despite the mediocre offensive performance, the team's main focus should be to fix a broken defense, if that's possible. If it's not, the Redskins are in big trouble.

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