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Pass Protection's Still the Name of Game

When the Pittsburgh Steelers came to FedEx Field in Week 9 last season, the Redskins thought they were ready for a high-profile NFC-AFC matchup.

Washington was 6-2 entering the game under rookie head coach Jim Zorn, and eager to measure itself against one of the other conference's best clubs. The Redskins, however, quickly learned they were not who they thought they were.

The Steelers displayed a caliber of football with which their hosts were not familiar in a 23-6 victory that began a long slide for the Redskins. The pass-protection problems evident since preseason undermined the offense as quarterback Jason Campbell was sacked (only three quarterbacks were sacked more than Campbell last season) a season-high seven times and operated under duress from the outset.

Although the Steelers gained only three more yards (224 to 221) and had a slight edge in time of possession (30 minutes 43 seconds to 29 minutes 17 seconds), their top-ranked defense dismantled the Redskins' offense so thoroughly the outcome was never really in doubt.

"That was a tough game," quarterback Jason Campbell recalled the other day. "You know what you're going to get with Pittsburgh and that defense, they were the best defense in the league, but we felt good going into that game. It was tough."

I figured Campbell would rather face any team except the Steelers again - even in the preseason. But when Campbell saw the schedule, he was pleased to see the defending Super Bowl champions would be back at FedEx tonight. He believes the Redskins have made strides in pass protection, and facing the Steelers should be a good gauge of where they stand, Campbell said.

"The Steelers come after you, you know they're going to put pressure on and try to get to the quarterback, so you know what to expect," he said. "You have to try to stop it, and I like a lot of the things we're doing with our protections. I like what we did last week, so you just want to try to keep it going."

The first-team offense did not give up a sack in a 23-0 preseason-opening loss to the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. The group only was on the field for two short series and Baltimore pass-rush star Terrell Suggs sat out the game, "but our line did a good job," Campbell said. "When we played Baltimore there last year [a 24-10 Redskins' loss], they really gave us a lot of problems with their blitzes and stunts. To be honest, we really couldn't stop them.

"But we did a good job picking it up this time. They ran a lot of stuff at us and we handled it. The communication was there. We saw what we need to do and all the guys did a great job of talking. A lot of times, if you have that communication working, you can get stuff blocked and get a chance to make a play. So when I saw that the changes we made worked, you have to feel good about that. Everybody knows Pittsburgh is real aggressive with their blitzes, so you'll get a chance to keep working on that."

The first-team offense produced only 45 yards and three first downs against Baltimore. Considering that the Redskins averaged only 16.6 points - ranking 28th in the 32-team league last season - and Campbell was battered in the final eight games, he said he could understand why Redskins fans would be concerned about such a poor start, "but the biggest thing is that the changes we made in our pass pro worked," he said. "The preseason is all about trying to get better, and that's what we're working on. You've got to look at what's important, and we definitely did some good things with our protection. We just have to keep it going."

By Jason Reid  |  August 22, 2009; 1:00 PM ET
Categories:  Jason Reid  
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Next: Scratches for Steelers-Redskins (Updated)

Comments

first!

Posted by: 21forever | August 22, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

We need to get some scores.

Posted by: scampbell1975 | August 22, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

I wouldn't let the players off with "the first team did okay in pass protection". This suggests that the terrible play of the backup offensive linemen, or that the lack of run blocking from the first team was acceptable. These offensive linemen - starters, backups and backups to the backups - need to step up in a big way. Nothing less than a "dominating" performance should be acceptable.

Posted by: RedSkinHead | August 22, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Looking for 2 things:

1) TDs

2) JC17 to throw something other than check-downs and short-intermediate crossing routes

Both of these will be dependent on solid Oline play. But I'm frankly not interested in simply seeing solid Oline play without these 2 things also happening.

Posted by: p1funk | August 22, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Let's face it: even if the line stays relatively healthy once they face topflight defenses they'll get dominated.

At best the Redskins make the playoffs but get knocked out in the first round when facing a top-tier defensive line.

But that's true for about 75% of the teams in this league.

Posted by: SteveMG | August 22, 2009 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Here's what I'm looking for.

1. Campbell surviving w/o serious injury. Which meansm, obviously the OLine held up.

2. One of the two scatbacks either breaking a long run or KO/Punt return. If he does this week or next, he's on the team.

3. 5th receiver to emerge. Loudmouth Portis alerted the world to Mitchell's skills, meaning he won't last on the practice squad.

4. Orakpo to look good as an LB

5. Tryon to display in a game what he's displayed in practice.

Hopefully the track won't be so sloppy nothing informative will come of it, other than receivers ability to hold on to wet ball and equipment manager to choose the right length cletes.

With Big Ben likely limited or not playing at all, the skins D will be chasing Mobile QBs all night.

No prediction because of iffy weather, but 'skins have a slugger's chance to impress and win.

Posted by: TheCork | August 22, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

At best the Redskins make the playoffs but get knocked out in the first round when facing a top-tier defensive line.

But that's true for about 75% of the teams in this league.

Posted by: SteveMG | August 22, 2009 1:58 PM

The Redskins have a top tier defensive line. So, by your reckoning, they ought to be able to beat 75% of the teams in the league.

Posted by: talent_evaluator | August 22, 2009 2:07 PM | Report abuse

The Steelers had a terrible O line last year and won it all.

Posted by: scampbell1975 | August 22, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Loudmouth Portis alerted the world to Mitchell's skills, meaning he won't last on the practice squad.

Posted by: TheCork | August 22, 2009 2:04 PM

Right. Everyone in the league gets their scouting reports from Dr. Do Itch Big, and Prime Minister Yah Mann.

Posted by: talent_evaluator | August 22, 2009 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Loudmouth Portis alerted the world to Mitchell's skills, meaning he won't last on the practice squad.

Posted by: TheCork | August 22, 2009 2:04 PM

The excitement around the league is building so fast that we don't need to put him on the practice squad. We can just go ahead and trade him for a third round pick in next year's draft. Hard to believe that Cerrato drafted this stud after passing last year on Jackson and Royal, isn't it, Cork?

Posted by: talent_evaluator | August 22, 2009 2:17 PM | Report abuse

TE, you should have settled for one witty retort. The first one was mildly amusing. But to follow it up with some tired crap that should have stayed on the cutting room floor, well, that pretty weak.

Posted by: mack1 | August 22, 2009 2:25 PM | Report abuse

The Redskins have a top tier defensive line. So, by your reckoning, they ought to be able to beat 75% of the teams in the league.

If everything else - receivers, QB, secondary, special teams - was equal, yes.

But it's not.


Posted by: SteveMG | August 22, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

TE, you should have settled for one witty retort. The first one was mildly amusing. But to follow it up with some tired crap that should have stayed on the cutting room floor, well, that pretty weak.

Posted by: mack1 | August 22, 2009 2:25 PM

Thanks for your feedback, mack! I'll keep it in mind!

Posted by: talent_evaluator | August 22, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

TE, you should have settled for one witty retort. The first one was mildly amusing. But to follow it up with some tired crap that should have stayed on the cutting room floor, well, that pretty weak.

Posted by: mack1 | August 22, 2009 2:25 PM

I really appreciate these suggestions. Do you happen to know Marty S. EMAIL ADD?

Posted by: talent_evaluator | August 22, 2009 2:39 PM | Report abuse

M
Do anyone have Marty S. email ADD

Posted by: HIRE_MARTY_S | August 22, 2009 2:46 PM | Report abuse

A
Do anyone have Marty S. email ADD ?

Posted by: HIRE_MARTY_S | August 22, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

R
Do anyone have Marty S. email ADD ?

Posted by: HIRE_MARTY_S | August 22, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

T
Do anyone have Marty S. email ADD ?

Posted by: HIRE_MARTY_S | August 22, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

D-bag

Posted by: scampbell1975 | August 22, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Y
Do anyone have Marty S. email ADD ?

Posted by: HIRE_MARTY_S | August 22, 2009 2:49 PM | Report abuse

S.
Do anyone have Marty S. email ADD ?

Posted by: HIRE_MARTY_S | August 22, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

A-hole

Posted by: scampbell1975 | August 22, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

University of Georgia student

Posted by: talent_evaluator | August 22, 2009 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Couldn't be, he can spell Marty.

Posted by: scampbell1975 | August 22, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Couldn't be, he can spell Marty.

Posted by: scampbell1975 | August 22, 2009 2:53 PM

He got help from his girlfriend at Tech. The tell is the "Do anyone." That'll get you an A in Freshman Composition at U. Ga.

Posted by: talent_evaluator | August 22, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Heck, clearly an AU grad.

One of those 7 year grad programs.

Ain't talking medical school either.

Posted by: SteveMG | August 22, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

TE following up a string of dumb posts by saying beetlejuice 3 times. thanks.

Posted by: chrislarry | August 22, 2009 2:59 PM | Report abuse

TE following up a string of dumb posts by saying beetlejuice 3 times. thanks.

Posted by: chrislarry | August 22, 2009 2:59 PM

CL taking time off from working the Caps blogs with his typical girlie-slap post.

Posted by: talent_evaluator | August 22, 2009 3:02 PM | Report abuse

HIRE_MARTY_S.
HIRE_MARTY_S.
HIRE_MARTY_S.
HIRE_MARTY_S.
HIRE_MARTY_S.
HIRE_MARTY_S.


Maybe I'll stop after the hire !


Do anyone have Marty S. email ADD ?

Posted by: HIRE_MARTY_S | August 22, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

this girlie slap line is crazy weak by the way. And is the caps blog supposed to be an insult? b/c Tarik is the best sports reporter the post has and The Caps are a young talent laden team built through the draft with a smart owner and one of the best fan game day experiences in pro sports.....

Posted by: chrislarry | August 22, 2009 3:08 PM | Report abuse

this girlie slap line is crazy weak by the way.

Posted by: chrislarry | August 22, 2009 3:08 PM

You're the one that keeps bringing them, CL, including this one.

Posted by: talent_evaluator | August 22, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

I know its just preseason but you can bet the pittsburgh steel will want to make a statement. I dont want it to be at the expense of our psyche. They dominated our line of scrimmage mostly cuz they took us out of our run game which was cliking when we got there and troy polimolive did it single handedly. then we got behind then we had to throw. he shot in out of control at the legs of the linemen and penetrated. put a spy on him. and let cp smack it u in there, then hit em with the play action with two tights in a single zone and work it down the field, cause our d just need some good field pos to win the game all by its self imo

Posted by: Rvf0509 | August 22, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

"The first-team offense did not give up a sack in a 23-0 preseason-opening loss to the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium."

That's not true at all. Cooley let someone by and Jason got sacked. It was the ONLY time that the Ravens blitzed.

Get some glasses dude.

- Ray

Posted by: rmcazz | August 22, 2009 3:41 PM | Report abuse

The Post should just ban that idiot Hire Marty's IP and he'll be gone for good. He'll have no other choice but to go back to being his dad's little princess again. His mom must be so proud of him..

Will it really matter that much if the O line holds up in a preseason game tonight? Word is Harrison might not even play.

Posted by: ga8085 | August 22, 2009 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Will it really matter that much if the O line holds up in a preseason game tonight?

Posted by: ga8085 | August 22, 2009 3:51 PM | Report abuse


Yes.

Posted by: p1funk | August 22, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse

I bet this game won't get finished. Lightning and thunder in the forecast.

Posted by: rachel216 | August 22, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

I think hire_marty_s is seriously drunk.

Posted by: rachel216 | August 22, 2009 4:20 PM | Report abuse

I bet this game won't get finished. Lightning and thunder in the forecast.

Posted by: rachel216 | August 22, 2009 4:18 PM

Rachel's called it. This game isn't happening. Look at the weather map from Sterling, Va.

http://radar.weather.gov/radar.php?rid=lwx&product=N0R&overlay=11101111&loop=no

Too bad. Lot of guys need this game to make the team.

Posted by: talent_evaluator | August 22, 2009 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Here's what I'm looking for.

1. Campbell surviving w/o serious injury. Which meansm, obviously the OLine held up.

2. One of the two scatbacks either breaking a long run or KO/Punt return. If he does this week or next, he's on the team.

3. 5th receiver to emerge. Loudmouth Portis alerted the world to Mitchell's skills, meaning he won't last on the practice squad.

4. Orakpo to look good as an LB

5. Tryon to display in a game what he's displayed in practice.

Hopefully the track won't be so sloppy nothing informative will come of it, other than receivers ability to hold on to wet ball and equipment manager to choose the right length cletes.

With Big Ben likely limited or not playing at all, the skins D will be chasing Mobile QBs all night.

No prediction because of iffy weather, but 'skins have a slugger's chance to impress and win.

Posted by: TheCork | August 22, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse
==========================================
TheCork,

I'm really hoping for items 1 through 3 to come true. Items 4 and 5 are icing on the cake since they're all things defensive. That side of the ball seems head and shoulders ahead of the O and Teams. But, we'll see post game how the list shook out. I'm also hoping in the vein of Horton, that a guy that's been under the radar, steps out and shines unexpectedly.

Posted by: clark202 | August 22, 2009 4:46 PM | Report abuse

""The first-team offense did not give up a sack in a 23-0 preseason-opening loss to the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium."

That's not true at all. Cooley let someone by and Jason got sacked. It was the ONLY time that the Ravens blitzed.

Get some glasses dude.

- Ray
"

actually he didnt get sacked, moron. He just threw the ball into the ground...other than that yeah it was the only time they blitzed. The ravens are much, much better than the skins are

Posted by: nattylite88 | August 22, 2009 4:50 PM | Report abuse

How many points will the First string O put on the board?

I say 3.

Posted by: 1965skinsfan | August 22, 2009 5:15 PM | Report abuse

1965skinsfan- I say zero. Not trying to be negative, just trying to be real. My gut feeling is they score ZERO.

Posted by: rachel216 | August 22, 2009 5:17 PM | Report abuse

I'm thinking JC will do his typical dump offs and slowly, barely, get them into FG position. This will allow the kickers a chance to impress. Lord knows he wouldn't want to throw it downfield. JK!

Posted by: 1965skinsfan | August 22, 2009 5:20 PM | Report abuse

btw, no need to explain your position as "not negative". Last I checked it is an opinion based blog and this is America. Say what you want. Ignore those that call names. The Skins haven't given us loyal fans much to be positive about in years.

Posted by: 1965skinsfan | August 22, 2009 5:23 PM | Report abuse

1965skinsfan- Yeah, but you know some people get furious over negative comments. They'll call you a hater or "not a fan." It gets annoying but you're right, there's not much to be positive about when every year you're mediocre, or 8-8.

Posted by: rachel216 | August 22, 2009 5:36 PM | Report abuse

rachel,

who gets your vote as the 5th WR?

Posted by: 1965skinsfan | August 22, 2009 5:38 PM | Report abuse

I like Eloi due to his good special teams play so far.

Posted by: 1965skinsfan | August 22, 2009 5:40 PM | Report abuse

I know you didn't ask me but it's got to be Mitchell. I say this for 2 reasons. One, he's the one that has stood out to players and coaches alike. Two, he's a draft pick. If last year is any indication, all draft picks will make the roster. (Brooks was the exception last year, Tryon proves you don't have to be good, just drafted.)

Posted by: scampbell1975 | August 22, 2009 5:59 PM | Report abuse

Brooks was the exception last year

Posted by: scampbell1975 | August 22, 2009 5:59 PM |

Brooks wasn't an exception - he made the roster last year. He got cut after he got injured. He's punting for Green Bay now. Skins should have put him on IR and brought him back to camp this year.

Posted by: talent_evaluator | August 22, 2009 6:10 PM | Report abuse

Sorry T_E, I should have clerified that point. I know he made the team, he didn't stick though,

Posted by: scampbell1975 | August 22, 2009 6:13 PM | Report abuse

beeparoo...

Posted by: scampbell1975 | August 22, 2009 6:16 PM | Report abuse

1965skinsfan- sorry I didn't get back to you sooner. This is very interesting because there are many scenarios. I think the fifth reciever must play special teams, although Hackett does not, he does know Zorn's offense. I didn't like what I saw from Hagans in the Ravens game, none of the other recievers (besides Moss, El, Kelly, Thomas) really showed anything.) I also would go with Marko Mitchell. From what I've heard, no one can stop him and he's got the best hands I've heard. He's big, tall, and physical. Yes, he's a seventh round pick but so was Marques Colston. But I also wouldn't count out carrying 6 recievers.

Posted by: rachel216 | August 22, 2009 6:17 PM | Report abuse

I wonder how he's doing. There are two punters in camp -- him and Kapinos. Kapinos stats last year were about the same as Brooks were with the 'Skins. If neither of them picks it up, Packers might look outside the organization.

Posted by: talent_evaluator | August 22, 2009 6:19 PM | Report abuse

Nothing less than a "dominating" performance should be acceptable.

Posted by: RedSkinHead

Would you settle for our D line dominating their O line? Cuz that might be possible. But if you're expecting our O line to dominate their D line, then you need to pass the Koolaid.

I'm just sayin'...

Still, I'm wearin' the 26 Nate gave me last year when the Stillers slapped us around at FedEx in the regular season in the game that exposed the Skins shortcomings for the entire league to see.

Representin' in the preseason, see?

I ought to change my handle to The Koolaid Kid.

Posted by: RedskinWillie | August 22, 2009 6:59 PM | Report abuse

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