If you look at this week’s game, it wasn’t nearly as close as the score would lead you to believe. The Redskins were dominant throughout the game on both offense and defense.The weak spot this week? Special Teams.
The Redskins’ Special Teams unit accounted for 14 of New Orleans’ 24 points. Randle-El’s fumble may not have been returned for a touchdown, but it put the Saints in position to score their first touchdown. Durant Brooks should have kicked the ball out of bounds, but instead kicked a low, line-drive right to Reggie Bush (who is already known as a dangerous return man) who promptly returned it for a touchdown.
The Special Teams also missed two field goals; one was shanked by Suisham, the other was a mishandled snap by Brooks. That’s 6-points lost by the Redskins.
If you count that up, the score should have been Redskins 35, New Orleans 10.
Many people may be saying “wow, what a difference ten days makes” but it really boils down to our opponents. The Redskins lost to the Giants 16-7. That’s a 9-point margin of loss to the defending Super Bowl Champions. By contrast the Giants whipped the Rams 41-13 this week. That’s a 28-point margin of loss. The Rams had one touchdown, and two 54-yard field goals.
The Redskins certainly looked a lot better this week, and did improve on some things, but they looked a lot better when they weren’t facing a team who had just finished winning a Super Bowl on the strength of their defense.
My first bit of praise goes out to the Redskins’ defense. They got some pressure on Brees, but more importantly they played the ball, not the receivers. Tipped passes, batted passes, strip attempts, one fumble recovered and two interceptions; that’s how a defense should look. Technically the Redskins’ defense gave up 17 points, but 7 of those points were defending a short field after a fumble by the special teams.
The star player on defense? A guy who wasn’t even supposed to play; Chris Horton. Something tells me Reed Doughty is going to be moved to the second string after this kid’s performance. This 7th round rookie was responsible for all three of the Redskins’ turnovers on defense. Way to go, Rook!
My second and largest bit of praise goes to the offense. Pass protection looked a lot better; Campbell looked more comfortable stepping up into the pocket. The other major note…no offensive penalties. No holding, false start, or illegal formation penalties the whole game. That’s incredible for this team considering the offense had the ball for nearly 35 minutes!
Campbell certainly didn’t make it look easy, but you could see the confidence build in him as the game wore on. You could also see the coaches gaining confidence in him.
My third batch of kudos goes out to Jim Zorn and his coaching staff. Things looked a little rough to start off with. The ‘Skins burned up all of their time-outs for the first-half in the first-quarter. They went for field goals early when the fans felt they probably should have gone for it, but the play-calling as a whole was well done. The time-management was greatly improved in the second half.
The team was well prepared for their opponent, and held Reggie Bush to a mere 28-yards on 10 carries. The offense found the open receivers, had no real trouble running the ball, and anticipated the pass rush well. They played mistake-free football on offense with no penalties and no turnovers.
The most important detail (that I think will be the most overlooked) was how Zorn took care of his players. I personally believe that the deciding factor in yesterday’s game was the heat. Zorn had his patented Z-shades set up over the bench, and had misting fans everywhere. I didn’t get much of a chance to see the Saints sidelines but I don’t recall seeing any kind of shade on their sideline. It may not seem like much, but in a game that is won by inches, that little bit of comfort may have made all the difference, especially in the fourth-quarter.
The Redskins Special Teams are usually their strong point, and I have every confidence that Danny Smith with fix the problems that they had this week.
All in all, this game was exactly what the ‘Skins and their fans needed and I look forward to seeing how they do against Arizona next week!