The Doubters surfaced last week, but the team silenced them yet again with an astounding performance. Vick didn’t know which way to turn, and the Skins offense clicked while the starters were out on the field. There was a shovel pass, a reverse and several wide receiver hitches. A masterful defensive game by Gregg Williams left the Falcons wondering what was going to happen to their west coast offense. While there were penalties, as would be expected from scrubs, none were called versus the first team, which operated with machine like efficiency. Even some of the scrub players highlighted themselves with top efforts in the final attempt to secure a position on the team.
While Brunell had often taken flak for even attempting to supplant Ramsey, he stepped on the field tonight and showed how he earned the starting quarterback position. He led the team down the field with several nice throws, engineering a 78 yard drive that was capped off by a Betts run. Brunell looked confident and sharp. Ramsey did not repeat his stuttering performance of prior weeks, but instead showed confidence and threw the ball well. As was predicted, Ramsey did well with the pressure off his shoulders. Several dropped balls didn’t help his numbers, but he had some nice plays, including ducking a rushing linebacker (a la the Jets game) to unleash a flat footed 40 yard pass. While the bomb was incomplete, the arm strength demonstrated should concern defensive coordinators should he regain the field. Taylor Jacobs and Thrash had some nice catches, Coles burned a defensive back on the first drive and Gardner made a heck of a run on the reverse. Well played by all.
Score: 3 Quarters
Due to the amount of playing time Betts and McCullough received, this was obviously a game to allow the coaches to see them in a longer stint. They were both given numerous opportunities in the rushing game and both caught the ball well out of the backfield. Betts scored both touchdowns, yet McCullough shows that he can burn a team with speed. McCullough is a shifty back, perhaps too shifty. In cases, instead of hitting holes, he danced himself into tackles, whereas Gibbs prefers “one cut and run” backs. His numbers look better due to 2 long runs he did break. It does seem that if the Skins were to use him, it would be more effective to have him as an outside runner, and keep him away from “inside the tackle" running. The Dirtbags and their understudies were masterful in run and pass blocking for the most part, even with Atlanta stacking 8 men in the box and using frequent run blitzes. Yes, the Skins backs got tackled for loss a few times, but they burned the Falcons a few times as well. All in all, a tough decision come cut time for the coaches between these two backs. If both backs are considered for the roster, the tough decision for the coaches becomes “Do we cut Rock, Simon or both?”
Score: 3 Quarters
Does Daniels make a difference? How about Griffin and Arrington? Yes. The first few series on the field for the defense included starters who weren’t out on the field for much of the preseason. Arrington got to Vick twice, a corner blitz got to him once. Springs and Smoot hitting Vick caused an interception by Matt Bowen. Arrington caused a fumble that was returned for a touchdown by Antonio Pierce. The run defense was much more stingy even with the backups in on the defensive line. The secondary was selfish as well when not in zones. Warner, Boschetti and Wright all had stupendous games as backups, with Warner and Wright getting lovely bone crunching sacks. And who the heck is Khary Campbell? Just the man who happened to be in on most of the tackles in the second half. Could this be the man that enabled the coaching staff to release Mitchell? He showed very intuitive linebacking skills, putting himself in the right position to make the plays. Just one more thing for the folks who aren’t believers in this defense yet – 13 sacks in the preseason compared to 27 for all 16 games last year. Nuff Said?
Score: 4 Quarters
Hall – a linebacker in a kicker’s body. What a tackle on Dantzler. The man just came in like he was saying “No you aren’t taking it all the way back on my kick, buddy” and promptly wrapped Woodrow up like a pretzel. His mindset is perfect "Gibbs", and his 3 PATs and 23 yard field goal tonight helped cement his position on the team. While Ola Krimm has nothing to hang his head about, Hall is not the type of kicker to lose if you can help it. The punting was good, the coverage was fairly good, even though the kicker shouldn’t be making the tackles. The special teams seem to be improving with good control on the lanes and coverage as long as the opponents aren’t holding them beyond belief. Morton, while not a huge factor, did have a very nice runback for 25 yards that put the Skins in excellent field position on the Falcons’ 35 yard line. Morton should retain his position due to his skill level, as Gari Scott hasn’t shown he can perform at the same level.
Score: 3 Quarters
Gorgeous game for the most parts. The offensive line, with all the backups performed well, especially Molinaro. The defensive line and remarkably Warner, Wright and Boschetti showed why they should make the team. Jacobs and Cooley showed they can catch as well as run routes or block. Khari Campbell is a definite player if he can maintain that level of energy. With cuts approaching, several people showed the coaches all they could to stay on board. While there have been some rough times in this preseason, this squad is solidifying to the point that most fans can be quite satisfied at the amount of progress from last season.