THN Weekly with Andre Carter: Week 9
By: Jake Russell @_JakeRussell
Posted: 2008-11-02
Category: Washington Redskins News
Yes, the Redskins beat a winless team they should have beat in the Detroit Lions. Yes, the Redskins are 6-2 at the halfway point, a feat last accomplished eight seasons ago. But not everyone is happy about the performance. Especially defensive coordinator Greg Blache, who was interviewed on Redskins Post Game Live on Comcast Sports Net following the game and was quoted as saying his defense was the “worst 6-2 defense in the league” and that they played like “the south side of a northbound skunk.”

Some may think that Blache’s comments were overly critical, especially after a win, but according to defensive end Andre Carter, his criticism was validated by their performance.

“I understand what Coach Blache meant pertaining to last week’s performance. You have to understand that as a coach and as a player you are only as good as your last game. The week against Cleveland, we played hard and physical. This past week, we weren't playing Redskins football. He knows the level we are capable of playing on and last week’s performance wasn't acceptable,” Carter said.

Those comments by Blache best display how he reinforces his old-school beliefs on his players and reflect why past teams he has coached (such as the Chicago Bears from 1999-2003) have had such productive defenses.

How does Andre compare Coach Blache to other coaches he has had in the past?

“I feel that Coach Blache is one of the best. He is an old-school and hard-nosed football coach. I had a coach similar to him in college. Even though our record was poor season after season, the Pac-10 was impressed with how our defense played. So in comparison, Blache is great to have as a coach,” Carter said.

One of the reasons for Blache’s criticism may have been due to the lack of a pass rush. The team tried desperately to upgrade the pass rush with the addition of Jason Taylor after Phillip Daniels was lost for the season in training camp. Taylor’s addition was supposed to help Carter, who had his most productive season as a Redskin in 2007, get more opportunities to sack the quarterback. However, sacks have been lacking this season, as was witnessed Sunday against Detroit as Demetric Evans was the lone Redskin with a sack against a very underachieving Lions offensive line that even lost a starter to injury during the game.

Carter explains why there hasn’t been much of a pass rush and without specifically saying so, may also explain the improved productivity of the secondary at the same time.

“The past few games I have realized that a lot of teams have max protected against us. There are often 7 on 4 or 7 on 5. This is a copycat league. So a team that we played the week before, we know that our next opponent is going to use similar situations to be successful against our defense. We have been working very hard day in and day out with our technique. (Defensive Line) Coach (John) Palermo emphasizes pass rush technique every day. Hopefully soon it will come in bunches. But like I told everyone else, I will settle for two sacks for the season just as long as we are winning. Sacks don't win games. Yes, they help to put us in better situations. However, from a statistics standpoint, sacks are sacks. Wins mean more than anything,” Carter said.

Another reason for the lack of a pass rush may come from Taylor himself, who admitted he played against the Browns two weeks ago at only 60% with a calf injury. Despite playing the Lions game on Sunday, he underwent another operation for his calf earlier this week and will be out for Monday night’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“I can't speak for Jason. There are so many players like him that are hurting throughout the league. In this business, most players are playing at 60 to 70 percent. If you are on that level, it’s a go. He made the decision to go so he went. I commend him for that. We all thought that his calf was healed and I am sure he was for certain that his calf recovered. Unfortunately, this developed and as a result he is set back again. You can't blame him for wanting to contribute to the team. It’s in a nature to not try to stay out of the game. If you can go then you can go,” Carter said.

The defense shouldn’t take the brunt of the blame considering that often times this season the offense has put them in tough situations. For example, there were an array of penalties and fumbles from this past Sunday’s contest against the Lions. One of those fumbles, lost by quarterback Jason Campbell, put the defense in a tough position and led to Detroit’s first points in the first quarter of any game this season.

Those situations don’t matter to Andre or the rest of the defense. Their intention is to focus on the job at hand and not what put them in the positions they are in.

“No matter what happens in the game, we respond as a team. It’s not offense, defense or special teams. We play as one. If you focus on what this or that group did, that ends up creating finger pointing. We are mature [enough] to help each other out no matter what situation may occur,” Carter said.

The offense did, however, produce plenty of yards thanks to running back Clinton Portis and wide receiver Santana Moss.

Portis, the NFL’s rushing leader with 944 yards, was once again voted by fans as the FedEx Ground NFL Player of the Week for the second consecutive time after his fifth straight performance with 120 rushing yards or more. He also earned NFC Offensive Player of the Month for his outstanding play in the month of October.

Portis carried the ball 24 times for 126 yards, while Moss caught 9 passes for 140 yards and one touchdown.

Moss also returned a fourth quarter punt 80 yards for a touchdown. The play displayed Moss’ incredible athleticism as he was almost knocked down by fellow wide receiver Devin Thomas upon catching the punt.

“I thought Moss was down or was going to get tripped up, however, he recovered his feet and took it to the house. That was a great return. I am sure (special teams coach) Danny Smith loved that one. And no, we didn't joke with Randle El,” Carter said in response to his evaluation of the play and whether the team joked with regular punt returner Antwaan Randle El after Moss scored on just his second punt return of the season while Randle El still has no touchdowns this season after 24 returns.

That play earned Moss NFC Special Teams Player of the Week.

“Santana and Clinton are two great players with amazing skills. Their performance has been outstanding, not only due to last week but the whole season so far. They have always been great players and I am sure they are having the best years of their careers,” Carter said.

Those feats were not without their downsides, as Portis and Moss both sustained injuries against the Lions. Portis is listed as probable with an ankle injury and Moss is listed as questionable and is expected to be a game-time decision against the Pittsburgh Steelers with a hamstring injury.

Both players are going to be needed in order to slow down a very talented and physical Steelers defense (ranked first in the league in total yards allowed per game) that is reeling from a tough loss at home to the New York Giants.

The game was played as the Redskins were making their way back to Ashburn following their victory over Detroit.

The Giants defense uncovered several vulnerabilities in the Steelers offense, more specifically their offensive line. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was harrrassed throughout the night, throwing four interceptions and was sacked five times against the Giants in large part because of the tremendous pressure applied by New York’s defensive line.

“I did watch the game. That game was physical. Those are the type of games that you enjoy watching. A straight dog fight. Not only will I study film from the Giants game but I will also analyze other opponents that the Steelers played against,” Carter said.

The colossal battle against the 5-2 Pittsburgh Steelers will come on Monday Night Football, arguably the biggest regular season stage the NFL has to offer.

“Monday night games are something else. We do keep in mind that the world is watching. There is no pressure when you have that in the back of your head. The Monday night games I have played, the performance multiplies and you often do amazing things that you never thought were possible,” Carter said.

Considering that the Pittsburgh Steelers have arguably the largest traveling fan base in the NFL, there will a large buzz at FedEx Field on Monday night considering the close proximity of Pittsburgh to Landover.

Even though the Redskins haven’t played the Steelers at home in a regular season game since 1988 at R.F.K. Stadium, the Steelers are a common preseason opponent that travels to FedEx Field. Along with the players, the fans come in droves and try to make their presence known with their yellow “Terrible Towels.”

When asked how the crowds and environment of a Monday night game affect him, Andre gave a positive response and also gave some words of advice to every Redskins fan coming to the game on Monday night.

“Its’ fun. You enjoy the moment and remember it for a lifetime. I encourage all the Redskin fans to take away the “Terrible Towels” and have Redskin towels. Ha ha ha,” Carter said.

Under the Helmet:

THN: What do you wish you had invented?

AC: I wish I had invented computers. Do I need to give you an explanation?

THN: Obama or McCain?

AC: I plead the 5th. Ha ha ha.
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