The 5th Quarter
By: Rich Hilts  
Posted: 2004-08-12
Category: Washington Redskins News
Welcome back Joe Gibbs. The flashes of how large a difference coaching styles can be were seen on the field this evening in Canton, OH. What was once lost was once again found. The plays, while not executed well, were what fans once expected on a weekly basis. The offense sputtered, but the defense caught up, then the offense came to life. While it was tight, it was better than had come to be seen over the past 12 years. One important note – limited penalties, one turnover and good backup play in some quarters made this a very uplifting game to watch.

Passing:

Mark Brunell and Patrick Ramsey both showed that jitters can happen, no matter the experience level. Brunell showed the bad timing of a quarterback new to the receivers and the system, while “Double Clutch” Ramsey showed what the effects of a pounding all year can do to your psyche. The passing game didn’t show much until Tim Hasselbeck came into the game and led the Skins to a drive scoring a touchdown, then led them on a last minute drive to win the game. Gari Scott and Darnerian McCants were the receivers who impressed the most overall for the game

Score: 2 Quarters

Rushing:

It was to be expected that the Broncos would be looking for Clinton, as well as the rushing attack. Considering Gibbs’ reputation as a run first, run second coach, the defense was geared to stopping the rushing attack. Clinton didn’t get a lot of looks, and with the vanilla attack plan for preseason, he didn’t look impressive. Given a normal game plan, he will improve by far, but running a few basic plays against a defense geared towards stopping him, he was in there more for the hits and the reps for the offensive line. Once the passing game started improving under Hasselbeck, the Broncos loosened up on the run defense and Sultan McCullough got some nice little runs. Overall, not impressive, but once again, no surprise.

Score: 1 Quarter

Defense:

While the defense allowed a lot of yards, there were backups in the lineup from the start, so it wasn’t surprising. Like Gibbs, Williams ran a fairly vanilla defense with some linebacker stunts and a couple of blitzes, but rather plain overall. Mostly, it was a 4-3 man or zone, or a nickel zone. The backups on the defensive line, notably Nic Clemons did a relatively good job of shutting down the run after being blitzkreiged on the first couple of runs. Marcus Washington had a couple of very nice plays at linebacker, as did Mitchell. It was interesting to see the defensive line play stringing out the runs to the outside allowing the linebackers to knife in and make hits.

The secondary – what can you say. Sean Springs, Sean Taylor – 3 picks – one touchdown. Springs with the horizontal flying interception, Taylor with an interception in the Skins endzone to prevent a TD and another interception near the Broncos’ end zone to score a TD. Taylor also had some phenomenal hits to cap off a terrific evening. Ade “Sure Thing” Jimoh proved once again that he didn’t meet a receiver he could cover while Ralph Brown brought some nice hits to the table to show why he should be on the team.

When it came down to it, the starters, backups and third stringers only allowed 9 points, coming up with stops when needed. While it isn’t the best policy to do that all the time, it worked well this evening. All in all, it was a better defensive outing that was expected with all the shuffling of personnel and the learning of a completely new system.

Score: 2 Quarters

Special teams:

The scoring was good, the coverage, well, wasn’t. While everyone stayed in their lanes the way they were supposed to, it seemed that they were almost too tentative coming out of them even when the ball carrier was right next to them. While the Broncos never seemed to be ready to break one wide open, they did do some damage, returning the ball consistently 10 yards or more further than most teams like to see. The blocking on the Skins returns seemed ragged and the returners were constantly running up the backsides of their blockers in front of them. The punting was very nice, with a couple of very nice punts downed – one inside the 20 and one inside the 5. The kick at the end was close enough to make an Eskimo sweat on the coldest night of the year, and John Hall’s kick was beautiful. Both were good, but stick to Hall – please.

Score: 2 Quarters

The loss of Jansen makes this a huge blow to the new “Dirtbags”, and our prayers go out to him for a swift recovery. Expect more of the same for the rest of the preseason, fans. Gibbs is nothing if not predictable when it comes to preseason, so prepare for losses. Keep one thing in mind, however – the improvements might not be easily seen, but they are there, and in the greater scheme of things, they are tangible. Once put all together by this coaching staff, they make for a winning recipe.

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