The FIfth Quarter: New Orleans Saints
By: Scott Hurrey
Category: Washington Redskins News
Campbell had what was perhaps his best day as the Washington field general. He started off slow and steady, but eventually got into a rhythm that proved fatal for the Saints injury-riddled secondary. The offense seemed to come alive when Campbell got Chris Cooley involved in the second quarter. Cooley's ability to get open, sure hands and desire to plow over people to gain extra yardage always seems to fire up his teammates and force the defense to think about more than Santana Moss. And speaking of Moss, Campbell threw his finest pass as a professional with that fourth quarter bullet to Moss. From section 420, that pass looked phenomenal, and is hopefully a harbinger of things to come for number 17.
After the "scandelous" comments of Clinton Portis earlier in the week -- and the backlash by fans and media -- no one could know how CP would respond. Well, wonder no more. Portis looked more patient than this writer can remember in recent memory. He also appeared to have a quick acceleration step once his running lane had been chosen. The offensive line appeared to be opening decent holes on the left side and Mike Sellers did a good job keeping his pads low on blocks, sealing the hole for Portis to scamper through. It was surprising to see the stats following the game, as it seemed sure that Portis had gained 100 yards, but he was close enough and came up big when the team needed him to.
The defense was dominant in the first and fourth quarters. They seemed to have trouble containing Reggie Bush for the second and third though, and that coupled with the offense's inability to finish off drives in the first half almost proved fatal. Luckily, when the chips were down, the defense stepped up -- especially rookie sensation Chris Horton. You aren't supposed to be able to lose your job due to injury, but Horton made his case to his coaches that sometimes you should. Granted, there were plays that it seemed Horton wasn't sure where he was supposed to be, and his film grade may ultimately decide whether he gets another start or just increased playing time, but its hard to argue against a fumble recovery and 2 picks, one of which iced the game. Also, one shouldn't forget that Jason Taylor got his first sack as a Redskins and generally looked better against the Saints than he did the Giants. The pressure on the whole was good in the two dominant quarters, but certainly was not in the two quarters that the defense struggled. Coincidence? I think not.
Wow. Considering the way the rest of the team played, this unit, the stong point of last week's game, came up lame this week. Shawn Siusham missed 2 field goals, although one was a pretty long one that he'd probably like to have back and the other was a botched hold by the rookie punter. And speaking of the rookie punter, that had to rank as one of the worst punting performances in franchise history. Not only were the punts bad, but one of them was bad enough that Reggie Bush took it with a running start and just ran around the punt coverage unit for the score. With Frost punting well in Green Bay, the rumblings had already started, and this performance will do nothing to help quell them. The best thing Durant can do is practice holding for Suisham, practice punting and stay away from newspapers, television and the internet. He's got talent, but weeks like this are not going to cut it.
On the other side of the ball, Antwaan Randle-El fumbled a punt that led directly to the Saints first score and wasn't able to do anything with the ball when he held on to it. The Saints covered punts well, and the Redskins blocking left a little to be desired, which, coupled with more east-to-west running instead of north-to-south running made the punt return unit less than effective. At least Rock Cartwright had a good game, although even Rock hesitated on a catch in the end zone before coming out, resulting in possession on the 17. Danny Smith will be fired up this week in practice.
New to this year's Fifth Quarter is a coaching grade. In the first half, the Redskins used all three of their time-outs in the first quarter, and were ineffective in the redzone. The defense had a bad second quarter as well. At the half though, Coach Zorn and the offensive assistants made good half-time adjustments that led to the offense ramping up for that big fourth quarter. Specifically, the slant to Moss on fourth and 2 with a couple of minutes left was brilliant. No one saw that coming. As for general play calling, Zorn did a good job of mixing things up and not being to terribly predictable. The defense also made good adjustments in the fourth quarter.
Well, after week 2, the Redskins find themselves at 1-1 preparing for the Arizona Cardinals. The Cards used to be perenial pushovers, however two former Skins in Ken Whisenhunt and Russ Grimm have begun to turn that teams around. Kurt Warner is playing well, and the receiver tandem of Boldin and Fitzgerald might just be the best in football. It won't be easy for the Skins. They'll need to start off the way they finished if they have any hopes of being 2-1 going into the two divisional road tests waiting for them on the other side.
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