Monday, October 29, 2007

Redskins Totally Dominated

At no point during this game did the Redskins have any hope of winning or playing at the same level as the Patriots. By the time Jason Campbell hooked up with Chris Cooley most fans had already changed the channel. From the moment New England took control of the ball in the first quarter the Redskins were simply outclassed. The defensive playmakers who, before the game, had hoped to impose their will and claim ownership of the field faded into the background as Tom Brady sliced threw their efforts.
The bottom line is it's not the Patriots that are head and shoulders above the rest of the NFL, but Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. Every play, every executed down is done to perfection. So much so, that even when Brady looked mortal he exploded with an efficiency that countered every effort the Redskins made. Tom Brady lost a fumble and threw a couple of balls into the dirt early in the ballgame, but finished with a 29/38, 306 yard day with 3 TDs, and 0 INTs. Oh, and he scrambled for 2 rushing TDs, just to show everyone how well-rounded he is.

But the Redskins weren't supposed to win this game anyway and regardless of the offensive juggernaut that is wrecking havoc on the NFL, the Skins lost again because of turnovers and their inability to compete at the line of scrimmage. Each fumble was caused by an assignment breakdown at the line or a botched pick up by the blocking back. The score of this game isn't the underlying issue for the Redskins who should not consider themselves ready to have an impact on the playoffs yet. They have a long way to go before they are able to compete at that kind of level. The personnel across their lineup are not getting the job done and after their third loss to a superior team, they need to re-evaluate how to utilize the players they have. The Patriots are as close to perfection as you can be right now and the Redskins should use this game to fix their flaws.

Offensively, this means a whole different game plan. I saw Jason Campbell continue to struggle with his accuracy down the field and I saw the running game hampered by a sluggish offensive line. These weaknesses feed off each other and allowed the Patriots to compact their coverage, ultimately resulting in the Redskins inability to move the football or break big plays. The coaching staff must find a way to move Campbell's line of sight to the next plane on the playing field and get the ball in the hands of Moss and Randle El on the fly. Both playmakers are getting the ball in open space but are stuck around the line of scrimmage as the coaching staff continues to call far too many quick-outs and screens.
Defensively, I saw just the opposite. I'm not sure what kind of coverage they were trying to use - cover 2? - but it allowed Brady to pick them apart with dink and dunk passes all the way down the field. Yes, the Skins were able to contain the big play threat of Randy Moss, but they instead allowed nine combined catches out of the backfield and another nine to slot receiver Wes Welker. They unnecessarily spread out their coverage and not only bent but broke six times. They've done a good job at minimizing an opposing team's primary weapon, but good teams have so many more ways of winning the game so these efforts are nullified.

Next week, the Skins battle the Jets and should bounce back against a team who has struggled mightily this year. I hope the Redskins uses the Jets as a statement game for themselves and the remaining teams on the schedule. In the following weeks, they run into Philly and get a first crack at Dallas and need to quickly right the ship that was just caught in the Patriot hurricane.

- The Hokie

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