The 5th Quarter: Rams
By: Rich Hilts 
Posted: 2004-08-28
Category: Washington Redskins News
While the execution wasn’t there, the game was not a total loss. Taylor Jacobs showed he had a motor, the offensive line proved that there were some backups who can indeed come in if needed, and Ramsey, though not sharp did not display the stutter and double pump tonight. The first team was suspiciously absent on the defensive side for 3 ˝ quarters and the offense started substitutions early as well. It would be expected that the Skins could hold up somewhat better versus the Rams starters, even with backups coming in, but it wasn’t to be. Forget the loss, remembering several times the Skins went 0-4 in the preseason
often under Gibbs and sometimes with apparently devastating scores. Focus on what was learned at certain positions that were question marks.

Passing:

Patrick Ramsey showed a bit more confidence tonight, which is the main step he needed to make. While hanging on to the ball a little more than prudent, the double pump jitterbug dance did not make an appearance tonight. While both he and Brunell did not really engineer the drives, keep in mind that several passes were just slightly off and that will be rectified in the next two weeks of practices. Taylor Jacobs showed some speed, Gardner had a couple of nice catches, but much of the receiving went to the underneath backs and receivers. Hasselbeck also had some nice passes towards the end of the game, and for those who say he doesn’t have at least an average arm, go back and look again – he fooled you. While not as sharp as fans would like, the passing game is a step or two off and that will change by the regular season.

Score: 2 Quarters

Rushing:

Clinton Portis once again got very few carries. Mostly, he was in there to practice reads and get hit a few times to get back up to speed for the regular season, but considering the Skins ran 3 plays almost mirror image to each other during the time Clinton was in there, it wasn’t any surprise it wasn’t successful. Betts had a nice run and showed some effort. It appears he may have a lead on the second string position due to his being elevated above Rock, Simon, and McCullough. He was also pulled after very few runs. The majority of the runs were with several backups on the line and TEs, so it makes it difficult to ascertain his progress. While running simple plays, Sultan did manage to crack off a couple of nice plays, though not enough to secure a position on the roster.

Score: 2 Quarters

Defense:

The run defense looked sharp for some time, stopping Faulk and Steven Jackson while the majority of the starters were in, and the blitzes had the Rams on their heels for a moment. Why did Williams back off to zone and let Holt blitzkrieg the open pockets in the zone? Unless it was to teach the cornerbacks some humility or to play a lot of the backups (which it took Collinsworthless and his gushing over the Rams until the last 1:15 in the game to even mention) it is unknown. What is known now is that Holt tore the zone up when players like Lott, Bauman, and Ralph Brown were playing. Most of the passing coverage that broke down, when looking at the replays, can honestly be blamed on zone coverage not being picked up by second and third string players. Smoot, mostly, was not in man coverage on those big passing plays, as he would release after Holt made a move. You can see clearly that the zone player responsible for the area Holt moved into did not react in time, leaving a gap. This is what accounted for a majority of the completions.
The run defense, the blitzes and Taylor balance this out in the greater scheme of things. Until no name players came in to play linebacker and line the Skins did limit the damage on the ground and constantly pushed the pocket with linebackers shooting gaps here and there. Once cuts are made, this area will improve. Just seeing Griffin stiffen up the line when the Rams ran to the inside should show what a difference can be made. When Daniels, Arrington, Barrows, and Taylor are in full time and the nickel back is Walt Harris, improvements will be seen immediately. Much was said about the Dolphins last week and their missing players and that point certainly is valid here as well.

Score: 2 Quarters


Special teams:

While there wasn’t a tremendous amount of special teams, the punt coverage was phenomenal. EVERY time the punt was caught, the returner looked up to see no less than 4 Skins in a wall in front of him. The kick coverage, considering the Rams team speed, was almost as remarkable. The Skins did have some respectable returns, both on kicks and punts, though people questioning Morton should look at the difference between Scott and Morton tonight and the ease in which Scott went down and understand what Morton’s drive and perseverance gains the Skins in the returns. Hall looked as sharp as ever with his 38 yard field goal, putting it high and almost right down the middle. This unit is looking sharper every week.

Score: 3 Quarters

Keep the chins up – this is preseason. The Skins don’t gameplan, the second, third and scrub teams were being substituted in from part way through the first quarter, and most of the plays were so basic most college teams wouldn’t have a problem reading them. This will change, come two weeks from Sunday.
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