Sunday Night H-Back (Imagine That?)
Well, at least they won.
If you're a Skins fan, just keep reminding yourself of that. It ended up being the biggest come-from-behind victory of the second Gibbs era - trailing 17-3 - and, ugly as it was, it's a W. The real stuff starts now though - Skins play 7 of their final 8 against NFC teams, when all the tiebreakers come in to play - and they've set themselves up well with this 5-3 start (3-2 vs. the conference).
Guess we have to start with the run game. I want to start by saying that Portis ran hard and he ran well and that was a great effort. I also want to point out they were facing a very weak defense that seemed must better equipped to blitz out of the 3-4 than to stop the run. Clinton ran 36 times - as many as he ever has for the Skins - and got 196, his most in Washington. The Redskins ran 48 times as a team, and 41 of those times came after Washington fell behind 17-3 - which is pretty rare. The Redskins ran the ball 28 times in the second half and threw it 10 times.
After Campell's INT in the third quarter the Redskins ran 24 offensive plays; 21 were runs. I don't think you can do that and win - overcoming a deficit in the process - agaist too many defenses.
But as much as the talk was about that being "Redskin Football," I can't see this happening every week. The fact they faced the 30th ranked defense had something to do with this as well, and it will be interesting to see how close they come to duplicating it again after six straight games of ineffectiveness on the ground. For as much credit as Clinton got, Betts did a great job of running hard and with purpose after Clinton delivered some big runs, and Ladell averaged 7.1 yards per carry on nine rushes, but that was really 7 for 35 excluding the two garbage draws he ran (Portis averaged 5.4). I got the feeling Marcus Mason could have come off the practice squad in the fourth quarter and ripped up a few long ones
The left side made it happen. The healthy side of the line helped open up runs of 8 and 7 yard son the first two plays of the game. That's still their best shot. They ran 26 times to the left for 160 yards - a hearty 6.2 per carry. Portis's 32 yard burst? Yeah, behind left tackle. That 17-yard scurry to get close to field goal range in overtime? Yeah, left end. Betts's 8-yard punch down to the goal line? Left tackle. Portis's 15-yard run in the second quarter went left, too.
The right side got better as it went along, but we'll have to see how much can be extrapolated from this dominant run approach. And the line suffered against the blitz as well. A few times the Jets overloaded against the right side with good success.
Figured we'd also deal with some other stuff that got overlooked. The Jets quietly rushed for 4.8 yards per carry, and that's a testament to the cajones and athleticism of Kellen Clemens, who ran 7 times for 48 yards (tailback Thomas Jones picked up just 49 yards on 13 carries - 3.8) For as weird as this game was, it's interesting that New York threw the ball almost twice as it much as it ran it - 42 to 26 - with a kid QB in his second NFL start.
Could never figure out why the Jets didn't accept that holding penalty on Samuels with New York up 17-3. It was third-and-eight from the NY 12 - and thus would have been third-and-18 from the 32, but Suisham was allowed to try the 40 yarder and he connected. Another small turning point.
Also still puzzled by how little McCardell factored into the game given how much the receivers generally struggled again. They combined for 1 catch for 12 yards in the entire first half (Moss had that grab). In the last four games only one WR has a game of 50 yards or more (Randle El had 54 yards against Arizona). That's not good. Jason has to be at least a little closer on that deep ball to Moss late in the game as well. Been a while since they had a pass of 30 yards or more - since the Detroit game to be exact.
Lot of work to be done offensively, obviously. Getting into the end zone has to become routine as well. Two offensive touchdowns the last two games; six in the last four. Had 4 drives of 10 plays or more Sunday and all resulted in field goals.
The personal fouls on third down are killing them - Landry and London are repeat offenders now. The Jets also had 4 drives of 10 plays or more, and three drives of 14 plays or more. Not good. Luckily for the Redskins only one of them ended up as a touchdown (two field goals and one ended in the fumble). The Jets went 11-for-18 on third downs and converting 4 in a row on that game-tying drive was troubling.
Gregg Williams is still trying to find the happy medium between all out blitzing and sitting back in Cover-2 with this particular unit, and not having Marcus and Carlos impacted the team in coverage and in terms of pressure. They're going to need to clamp down on defense in the second half of the season from what we've seen in the last two weeks.
Derrick Frost's shank from midfield - after the fake punt formation - could have been a backbreaker as well. The Jets took over at the 20 after that 27-yard punt, when they should have been pinned deep, and they went ahead 17-3 on that drive. Had Washington lost that would have been a key play. Been quite a funk for Frosty.
Obviously, the guys involved in the onside kick get props - Rock especially - and Suisham going 5-for-5 was huge. His short kick to Leon Washington to start the game was problematic, though, and his onside kick wasn't exactly where he'd want it, either. Lorenzo Alexander did his thing on offense, defense and special teams again, and he deserves kudos for that.
Okay, that's all I got for now. Writing this on the train coming home and I'm falling asleep, so sorry if it's even less coherent than normal. Also, I'm up for any story ideas this week - what should we write about? - so by all means email me with suggestions.
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