Monday Afternoon H-Back (UPDATED)
Man, where should we start? So much to cover. Bottom line is that was about as thorough of a win as you can have, even taking the score out of it. The Skins defense completely turned the Lions into what they never want to be - a run-first team for much of the third quarter with the game still in the balance - and Washington's offense systematically picked apart Detroit's secondary and had that defense begging for mercy and gasping for air by halftime.
Every single swinging soul I saw pretty much played his guts out. And you can't ask for anything more than that.
First, here's some sick stats to consider from halftime:
First Downs: Redskins 15- Lions 4
Yards: Redskins 236 - Lions 41
Pass Yards: Redskins 171 - Lions 15
Plays: Redskins 41 - Lions 17
TOP: Redskins 22:14 - Lions 7:46
The last time they beat a team by 31 points was the 52-17 "Dinner Bowl" against San Fran 10/23/2005
The Lions had 144 net yards, the lowest of any Redskin opponent since Joe Gibbs 1.0
According to my pals at The Elias Sports Bureau - you guys rock, thanks for letting me keep you on speed dial - the last time the Skins gave up fewer than 144 net yards was Oct. 12, 1992 vs. Denver, when the Skins yielded 128 yards. Guess the final score at RFK that day? You got it, 34-3. Weird, eh? October home game almost 15 years prior to the day with the indentical score?
D Line Dominance/Defensive Effort
But to me, the defensive line was the key to everything (and that's pretty much the consensus in The Park today as well). They took the Lions biggest strength - their aerial game - and completely stuffed it before it began. Jon Kitna never established a tempo in that rhythm offense, and was often running for his life. The Redskins had to exploit Detroit's weakness at O Line to give the DBs a fighting chance, and they completely dominated the game. All five D Linemen who took regular action - Daniels, Griffin, Montgomery, Carter and Evans - had standout performances and made plays. That was some vintage 2004 Cornelius Griffin right there. Amazing how much the bye week can help heal a man.
Gregg Williams called a brilliant game as well. He mixed up his underneath coverage, did some smart stuff moving Shawn Springs around and going man-to-man in certain matchups and had everything set up under a deep cover-2 shell. He relied on his speed and personnel to make plays from the D Line to the LBs to the DBs, resisted the urge to blitz and completely flustered Mike Martz. People at The Park are convinced that Martz got a mandate from head coach Rod Marinelli to start running the ball in the second half - the Skins knew they had Detroit where they wanted them at that point - and were surprised the Lions did not go 4-wide or 5-wide more than they did.
The defensive backs played a physical game and the overall tenacity of the hitting - from Sean Taylor's brain-dislodging hit on special teams on down - by the secondary was imperative. They are relying on teams to think twice about going down the seam or over the middle 30 yards downfield. Also, Taylor and Landry did a great job of sticking to the system, not being lured out of their responsibilities and sitting on the deep routes. Sean is back to picking the ball off, and positioning has been the key. On most of these picks he hasn't had to do anything but wait for the ball to get to him and the simplification of the system is benefiting him greatly.
Finally, all the fantasy-football plagued people begging for a big-number game from JC got it. The anecdotal evidence over his first 10 games should have been enough, but in case it wasn't, how's 23-for-29 work for you, with two TDs and no picks? Let me guess, when I do a webchat this week someone will be complaining about when's Jason going to get his first 300-yard game?
He spread the ball around to 8 teammates. He hit on all types of routes, made some incredibly accurate throws. Sure, he still delivered the ball late a few times - no one is perfect at that position and this kid is so far ahead of where most youngsters are - but even those were caught. Also amazing what a dude's statline will look like when his wideouts don't drop the ball 5 times (kudos to the receivers for that). Love the way he drifts out of the pocket around the goal line, buys time for something to open up and delivers the ball with some sizzle on it.
Antwaan Randle El is proving that if you give him a little cushion off the line and don't press him hard, he will make you play. That little slant would have been a TD had he not suffered the hammie injury, and if he plays the second half you can't convince me he doesn't go for 175 yards yesterday even without Santana there to compliment him.
The old goats - and I say that lovingly - should get game balls. Keenan McCardell comes in here having not played a game since like the third week of preseason and having been on the team all of a six days and goes out and makes two key catches. And James Thrash, what can you say about that guy? The ultimate team guy and a total selfless warrior. Fills Santana's role, becomes the first WR other than Moss or Randle El to catch a pass this season and then, with Randle El out, drops the hammer on the Lions with that 62-yard punt return despite not having caught a punt all year prior to Sunday.
That's deep depth people.
I thought the O Line did a great job of limited Detroit's LBs - Ernie Sims had been looking like a rising star - and after a flow start Fabini settled down.
The overall offensive approach was vibrant for a change. I know the repeated direct snaps - especially in the second half with the lead - had some defensive players a little unnerved, but there was a lot more "going for the gusto" in that game plan and a lot less trying to manage things not to lose. Coming off the New York debacle, that was huge.
Loved to see Coach Joe spitting some fire on Friday afternoon at the media, and maybe this is all total psycho babble BS, but it seemed to carry over into the offensive mentality of this game. Of course, when you have a ManBeast in your backfield setting the physical tone for your offense, that helps too.
Which brings us to last but not least, Iron Mike Sellers. As the regulars have known since the origins of this blog (Training Camp Insider circa July 2006) I am in the tank for this dude, would have a No. 45 jersey with "Flesh Eater" on the back if I rooted for the Skins, etc.
Let's take a look at the first four times the man touches the ball Sunday:
run for 5 on second and 1
catch pass for 4 on third and 2 (1st TD drive)
catch pass for 24 on 1 and 10 (second TD drive)
run for TD on 1st and goal
That's a first down/TD the first four times he touches the ball. Plus, that safety Kenoy Kennedy's jersey is still stuck in parts of Mike's teeth. That's levitation, Holmes.
Now, what do they need to work on?
Well, you can't put the ball on the ground 5 times (luckily they recovered four of them). (Weirdest stat of the entire game - teams combine for 9 fumbles but just one is recovered on either side).
The running game on the whole is still iffy (and with the shuffling of the line that's to be expected somewhat). The Lions are weak against the run, especially on the outside, and the Skins tried to get CP outside the tackles a bunch, a few times with great success. But over the last 3 games - including Philly when Randy went down - the Skins have rushed 95 times for 330 yards, a puny 3.47 average. That's more than a yard off of where Big Al wants them to be, and with 5 of the next 7 on the road, they are going to need to pound the rock.
Portis at least is chugging along at the NFL average clip in those 3 games (49 rushes for 201 yards - 4.1 per), but Ladell isn't anywhere close to the 2006 form now that he's a sub again (21 for 45 - 2.14, ouch).
Still trying to figure out the replay challenge on the third and 1 that got stuffed in the third quarter. Going to take a helluva camera angle to overturn that (as Green Bay later found out last night).
The punter needs to step up. Ups, sorry, just fell into an old habit there of MAH-Bs of yore. Dude put 3 of his 4 punts inside the 20. Booted one 52 yards. Dare we say the words "in-season contract extension?"
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