What causes a drop? When does a coach adjust play calling to allow for defenses’ tendencies? How much more can Patrick Ramsey take before he simply breaks under the tidal wall of blitzers? When does he quit fighting? These are the questions that have to be asked and answered soon before the Redskins find themselves under the guidance of Rob Johnson.
While the passing game in and of itself was well called in the actual design of plays, the receiver corps, in a repeat of the Giants game, let Ramsey down. When he could actually breathe long enough to pass the ball in the first quarter, the receivers generally dropped the passes. Hope does spring eternal, due to the fact that had the receivers managed to hang onto the balls that hit them in the hands for the most part, this game would have had a different look altogether. While the end of the third quarter and the fourth quarter was full of well timed and executed passes, one begins to question the heart of the receivers who seem to have hands made of concrete in one half of each game. Even McCants, the receiver who brought the Skins to the brink of winning, dropped a pass in which he was wide open and the ball in his hands. While McCants wins the Hog Nose for his play in the 4th quarter, the rest of the corps needs to examine their will to win, Gardner most of all. Ramsey continues to show heart, and the receivers continue to rip it out piece by piece in front of him as he takes punishment getting the pass to stone fisted receivers. Ramsey gets the other Hog Nose, simply for not giving up and continuing to get up off the turf.
The less said about the running game today, the better. Neither back was utilized to any great extent, and neither performed well enough to continue to attempt to go to them on the ground. The blocking of the offensive line which had shown so well in the prior 4 games in the ground game was obliterated by the Eagles front seven with their run blitzes that did not allow any long runs by either Betts or Canidate.
While the offense was asleep in the first two and a half quarters, the defense repeatedly came up with big plays. Smoot came up with an interception to stop an Eagle drive only to have it handed back to the Eagles when Coles allowed a pass to bounce off his hands. Trotter grabbed an ill thrown pass and raced towards the end zone, stopped at the one. There were several times that there was pressure on McNabb, with the pocket closing quickly on him. Sacks today were recorded by Bruce, Holsey with 1.5 and Armstead with .5. While there were a couple of big plays, both by the Eagles and the referees, the defense did not really allow much in the way of rushing or passing until the 4th quarter when they simply wore out, allowing Westbrook to run all over them. While they did allow quite a bit of rushing, a large portion came on the last drive the Eagles had with Westbrook accounting for 20 yards rushing on the touchdown run. All in all, they performed better than expected, but the offense turning the ball over inside the 20 and not performing better than 3 and out most of the day just battered them down. Before you scoff – keep this in mind – Philadelphia would have only scored 6 without the turnover inside the Skins 20. The score at half could have been 7-6 Skins. Without the touchdown by Kalu – the Skins win the game. The Hog Noses? Smith, Trotter, Smoot, Holsey – all for obvious reasons.
Ahh… what could have been. John Hall – 4/4 on field goals and an onside kick recovery. And while Barker did not have a great day, one would have to say he was a bit above average at 42 yards per punt. He did hang them up there long enough to get coverage under some, but there were 2 punt returns that were long enough to be scary again. The coverage teams did better than Philadelphia’s considering Morton had 25.7 yards per return average, but that isn’t a recommendation just yet. The Hog Noses would have to go to Bryan Johnson for the onside kick recovery and to Hall for his excellent effort in every way today.