Saturday, November 3, 2007

Redskins/Jets Preview

There's no position in sports that encompasses the hero/goat dichotomy as completely as the NFL quarterback and there's place in the world where it's easier to be scapegoated than New York. Just ask Chad Pennington. With his team sitting at 1-7 the five-year starter is going to be riding the bench this week against the Skins as second-year pro Kellen Clemens makes his second career start.

I've never been a fan of assigning win-loss records to individual players (pitchers, quarterbacks, goalies) in team sports and in my opinion to say the Jets struggles this year are the result of Pennington's play isn't fair. That's not to say Pennington is an ideal starter - his lack of arm strength lets teams put more guys in the box and makes it easier to stop the running game - but he has a 65.3 career completion percentage and has thrown 81 touchdowns to 53 interceptions. Plus it's not like Clemens (49% completion rate; 1 TD and 4 picks) have played so overwhelmingly well that he has to be given a chance.

The Jets offense really doesn't have much a chance to do anything of note in this game; despite their 52 points-allowed debacle last week the Redskins are still one of the best defensive teams in the NFL and a Jets offense that ranks 30th in the NFL in total yardage, 26th in points and has seen their running backs score exactly one touchdown to this point in the season won't give them too much trouble.

Of course it's not like the Redskins offense have been world-beaters so far this year, but this game should give them a chance to start getting things together. The Jets rank 29th in ranks allowed and 26th in points allowed and don't have anyone who can stop the Redskins receiving corps. Washington's offensive line is still beat up, but they should provide enough opportunity for a Skins offense that should be able to run a lot of plays as the defense shuts down the Jets pathetic offense.

Players to Watch:

Kellen Clemens. After several seasons of Jets fans bemoaning their horrible fate in having Pennington as their starting quarterback before finally seeing him benched could it be anyone else?
Redskins: Clinton Portis. Portis hasn't had a solid game on the ground since Week 5, averaging 3.2, 2.4 and 2.5 yards per carry in games after that. If the Skins want to compete for a playoff spot, especially playing Gibbs' style of football, Portis needs to get it going. He'll have the opportunity to against one of the worst defenses in the NFL.

Redskins 31, Jets 13 - and it won't even be as close as the score.


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