Six Pack: Cardinals
By: Stephen Zorio
Category: Washington Redskins News
1) Whew. The Cardinals game was a wee bit closer than we might have liked. Yes, we escaped with a win (and escaped is the appropriate word) but we had this constant fear of having a chat in like three years that would go something like: 'Dude, remember when Kurt Warner was wearing a sling and STILL threw for a couple of touchdowns and the Redskins lost. That sucked.'
First, yes, we often converse with ourselves and, secondly, ever since the Boomer Esiason 8,000,000 yards passing game, we have a healthy fear of the Cardinals. Our father, who finally acquiesced and agreed to watch a game in what we call "the glory of hi-def" was convinced the Redskins were going to lose at the start of the fourth quarter. Sadly, we were hard pressed to disagree and, trust us, we are disagreeable people.
2) Here is what we take issue with vis-à-vis the much discussed offensive philosophy. We, unlike the Fox announcers, understand that the Redskins offensive line is first, the foundation of their success and, secondly, utterly ravaged by injuries. So it makes sense to us that the team would need to scale back some of its options. However, what does not make sense to us is to instead repeatedly do something that clearly, empirically is not working.
3) We refer, specifically, to possessions like the one that began with 7:14 to go in the game after the defense had sacked the one-armed man and recovered the fumble. The play calling was: run up the middle, 4 yards; run up the middle, 1 yard; incomplete pass, punt. Now, we are not as dumb as people might think so we understand the danger of putting the ball in the air at this spot on the field. We are not suggesting a four receiver set with everyone running go patterns.
However, up to that point, running the ball had netted the following: 22 attempts for 57 yards. Granted, there were some goal line runs and touchdowns in there, but those were the direct result of the defense providing a short field. Even if we allow for the necessarily short runs, the rushing attack wasn't working, by any objective measure.
At that point in the game, we are baffled as to how this coaching staff would call runs up the middle given the results. Regardless of who is playing offensive line, it is crucial, given the score, time and starting point, that the offense advance the ball at least (at the very, bare minimum least) 20 yards.
4) Now, the ONLY scenario in which consecutive runs up the middle makes sense given the context is one in which the offensive line has been manhandling the defensive line for three quarters. That was clearly not the case here.
So when the offense needed to basically get two first downs, why would the first instinct be to rush up the middle when, at that point, that very same play had been tried five times and netted eight yards. Eight yards total.
Your offense needs 20 and you run two plays that, optimistically, will get you six yards. Sigh. Perhaps more damningly, the offense was on the field for less than three minutes. We love Coach Joe Gibbs, we have spent more time defending him and his decisions than most people we know and we find much of the criticism of him to be misguided. But that was poor coaching, plain and simple. Freud would call it insane, we will not go that far.
5) We would say this to the esteemed coach: if Tony Stewart was leading a race and decided, with about 50 laps to go, that he would run the high line, no matter what, even though he had run faster laps on the low line, for the remainder of the race, you, as the team owner, would be upset ... and rightfully so. If something is not working, it doesn't make sense to keep doing it. We understand that injuries have taken some of the cards out of your hand but it does not mean you've only got one to play.
You used a first-round draft pick to get Jason Campbell and you sat him and were criticized for both moves yet, thus far, they have paid dividends. Going forward, please cash in some of that well placed faith in JC (17, not the deity) and give him a chance to help your offense. We feel the game against the Patriots can be a real statement about this team and its potential but if it is handcuffed by a devotion to a philosophy irrespective of the results, it will be a sad statement.
6) We were, of course, pleased to see that Gibbs et al took responsibility for their mistakes. What makes us leery is that we feel we've been down this path before. However, we are eternally optimistic. That's a lie. We are optimistic in this instance. Due to both geographical location and a general disinterest in sports, we missed much of Gibbs 1.0 during our youth. But the most salient theme from his first reign, the thing we hear cited the most often, is his amazing ability to adapt. We believe he still has that in him and, around 8:30 Eastern Time on Sunday, we look forward to saying: "Oh, so that's what they meant."
- Stephen Zorio
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