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Monday Night H-Back (Sorry)

Sorry this is going up so late. Had a hellish travel day. All kinds of bedlam at the Dallas airport today. But the good thing was, if you have to be feeling like death at 6 am waiting for a plane, always good to have Miracle Mike Wise nearby for comedic value. Nobody boards a plan sans government issue ID like him. Dude is blessed.

Anyway, I digress. Don't have much time before Coach Joe's pressure, so this will be stream of consciousness stuff.

All the stats geeks waiting for Campbell's first 300 yard game to proclaim him legit - as if that's really possible with the kind of offense they ran much of the year - well, you got it. He is so not the problem around here. If Cooley catches that lob over the middle at the 5 on third down, they probably score a TD there and might have won this thing. When it's 10-7 and the Skins are moving the ball with ease to open the second half, if Chris Samuels doesn't completely whiff on Ware for that sack and fumble, I really think the Skins go in the end zone there and win going away, because Dallas had showed nothing to that point.

But, then again, if my aunt ..... Well, you know the rest.

Was just chatting with Sonny J about JC, and you can see the kid has it all. Some people have suggested to me in emails that JC might be tipping off the snap count a bit - maybe even leaning. Sonny says he doesn't see any of it. After the game, Ware did talk about having a good read on the count, though, so we'll keep watching for it. Bottom line is Ware was eating up Samuels for chunks of this game. I really think the sack/fumble was the underrated turning point of the game.

Anyway, JC's last real challenge will be pulling off some of the comebacks in the final two minutes. He's had some good 2:00 drives at the end of the first half, but the end of the game stuff is not yet there. Sonny says that's often one of the last pieces to the puzzle. JC is the final two minutes of a half in 2007: 22 of 44 for 284 yards with two TDs and two picks, 66.9 rating.

Gonna be a lot of fun watching JC vs. Romo for a long time. Those kids were slinging it out there. Good ol fashion shootout.

As for other thoughts, I thought Stephon Heyer held up very well. He got a fair degree of help from backs and Cooley, but was also on his own and did a nice job on Ellis. Running to the right side of the line is going to remain tough, and we'll see how long Todd Wade is out. But Heyer deserves kudos. Thought it was his best outing by far and was under very difficult circumstances, obviously.

Overall, the game ended up about where I thought it would, but the path to that scoreline was weird. D shuts down Dallas for 3 quarters then blows it in the 4th (Landry and Doughty had some big time breakdowns, and I think Gregg pulled Reed more to save the kid's confidence and because he knows he's going to need him while Taylor is out. My gut is he didn't want it to be a Winston Justice situation like what Andy Reid did to the young tackle on that Sunday night game against the Giants where the kid gave up 6 sacks. Reed wasn't nearly that bad, and he's a solid prospect down the line, but against that offense and with Garrett going for the throat, it's tough).

Had to figure Dallas got its 28 points, at least, and if the Skins could stop trading touchdown opportunities for field goals they might have pulled this off. Having Suisham kick the 49-yard field goal didn't surprise me at all - that's what Coach Joe has pretty much always done this time around - but it was the one area where he could be second guessed in this one. They still had plenty of other chances to put this away and/or finish off the comeback.

But above all of that, the Skins are still in good shape. The NFC this year might actually be worse than last year. It's pretty pathetic. The two biggest things to happen for the Skins the last two weeks? The Saints losing two games. That was the one team I thought had a legit shot to pull away with the final wildcard spot. But they stink too, and that four-game winning streak of theirs seems like ancient history.

Five spots are taken - the 4 division winners and the Giants (they are going to be a wildcard). So the Skins can focus on the final spot. Biggest Skins win of the year? To me, holding on against Arizona. Rackers hits that kick folks, and this team is on life support. As it stands now, even losing to Tampa this weekend - and having 3 straights losses and what would be a 3-5 NFC record - isn't close to being the end of the world.

Let's look at it this way, who they gotta finish ahead of?

The Lions (6-5) are fading, have two games left with Green Bay, including Turkey Day and I'm not totally convinced they win more than another game all season. I see them as 8 wins at best, which means an 8-8 Skins team goes in ahead of them.

Arizona (5-5), to me, is the best team of this entire lot of ho-hum, not very good pretenders, and they actually have the easiest schedule. They lost a heartbreaker to the Ravens and Skins; take out the Maryland games and they are running away with the second wildcard in my opinion. The Cards only have 2 road games left - at New Orleans and Seattle - so they should at least split those. They get San Fran this week (they should be 6-5 and in command of a wildcard spot by then), and also have Cleveland, Atlanta and St. Louis at home. Not exactly Murder's Row. If any of these second tier teams can get to 9 wins, I say it's them, which, of course, would probably end Washington's hopes. Arizona beat Detroit head-to-head, another reason I see them as the team the Skins must fear the most. If Arizona goes wild, they might take the division title from Seattle, but with the Hawks cake schedule I can't see them with less than 9 wins, so I'm putting them in.

Philly (5-5) will probably get pounded by New England this week, their QB is hurt again and they have to go through Seattle, the Giants and at Dallas after that. I don't see them surviving that.

The rest of the 4-5 win teams - Carolina, Chicago, Minnesota - are bad even by these standards.

So, even if the Skins lose to Tampa, assuming they take care of a little business at home and don't collapse completely, they will be alive until Week 16. Even if they are like 7-8 heading into that game, assuming they beat Chicago and Minnesota (rather than 1 win being an AFC game against Buffalo) they might even control their own destiny heading into the finale with a Dallas team that will probably have nothing to play for.

Just be mediocre, baby, and you're alive in the NFC. Barring Arizona reeling off a serious win streak, this will go down to the bitter end.

By Jason La Canfora  |  November 19, 2007; 4:44 PM ET
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