Okay, so the Ravens game was everything the Bills game wasn’t; it was ugly. That being said, it wasn’t without it’s glimmers of hope. For example, Donovan McNabb’s completion percentage may have been dismal, and at times he looked like he was off target (well, was off target) but when he did connect it was for first down yardage. He completed 11 passes for 206 yards.
That may be a detail that seems trivial, but to a long-time Redskins’ fan, we are accustomed to 11 completions for more like 80 yards. We are also used to interceptions and no touchdowns.
Clinton Portis was used sparingly, but averaged 7-yards per carry on his two runs. He looked like a superstar compared to Larry Johnson’s efforts of eight carries for 4-yards.
Washington gained 401 yards through the air, and 25 yards on the ground. Washington also passed the ball 47 times while rushing only 14. Now obviously in a regular season game, you are going to see a more concerted effort to establish the run. The greatest concern for me was the failure to connect on passes to the HB coming out of the backfield as that has traditionally been one of McNabb’s strengths in Philly (he’d light teams up passing to Westbrook out of the backfield).
A lot of the passing seemed forced, which is what you might expect in a pre-season game. It seemed like every receiver was surrounded by two or three defenders. I can only hope that the coach said “call x-play and hit y-receiver” wanting to see if the route worked, or if the receiver could get separation, or if the QB’s could adjust their throws based on the coverage. I gotta admit, seeing Moss make a catch with three defenders around him (practically in his pockets) looked great, but also looked like a pass you wouldn’t want to make in a regular season game.
While the knee-jerk emotion is to get ready to read about Larry Johnson’s pending release, there really wasn’t a lot of running plays called, and it’s hard to judge a back on only eight carries. We’ll see what the coaches do this week versus New York.
Flipping to defense, they really didn’t look all that bad. They struggled a bit against the run, and later against the short passing game, but we saw emphasis on tackling from the starters and plenty of gang tackles in the first half.
Now you know I can’t bring up the defense and not mention this week’s episode of “As the Albert Turns.” It’s obvious Haynesworth came into this game annoyed that he was going to start in the third quarter. His efforts were half-hearted at best. That would have been bad enough, but then he had to go and run his mouth to the media…again.
The man had the nerve to talk about how he shouldn’t be playing in the third quarter because he’s a “ninth-year pro” when he just finished playing like a first year walk-on. Had Albert dominated the line like he was supposed to, and kept the QB running for his life, then maybe I’d agree with him, but based on his performance, the man has no room to be talking about where he should be.
You’d think Haynesworth would have learned by now that Shanahan judges you by results, not by your pro-bowl appearances or your paycheck.
Haynesworth went on to talk about how the team “underplayed” his illness by describing it as “headaches.” Notice Haynesworth didn’t exactly go out of his way to tell the media what it actually was; just to say that the team tried to play down his “condition” to make him look bad. Well, I gotta wonder if he’s regretting that now that sources have leaked what his condition actually was and that it is typical for an athlete that is out of shape.
Maybe now he has a new appreciation for a limited list of symptoms that allow him to keep his health condition private.
All of this could have been avoided if Haynesworth had put his own feelings aside, put forth the effort consistent with a “ninth-year pro” and let his play do the talking. Fans would be clamoring to see the big man moved up to the starting squad instead of shaking their heads in disappointment at a man who prefers to run his mouth instead of the play.
Finally, I want to touch on the Ravens’ “trick play.” I’ve heard it said, more than once; “who runs that kind of play in the pre-season?”
Well, everyone. Fake punts, fake field goals, half-back options, crazy reverses with a receiver option, flea-flickers; These are all plays you are more likely to see during the pre-season because they are very risky. It takes a lot of brass to try something like that during a regular season game, but in pre-season, where the results don’t matter, why not run a trick-play? Good for the Ravens’ that it worked out for them and caught us napping. Good for us because it’s a play the special-teams players aren’t likely to forget.
Apart from that trick play, the two teams seemed pretty evenly matched through the first half. I know the loss was lop-sided, but I still don’t feel too bad about it. I think we saw quite a few positives out there. Two more games and then it’s time for the big-show. I can hardly wait!