“Usually the team that scores the most points wins the game.” - Madden
5-2 teams rarely face as many doubts as the Redskins, and it's all about points. The most significant doubts hang over the offense and trigger that Washington sports fan anxiety we all know and try desperately to repress. Every win this season has come against teams that have been held to under 20 points. The offense sits at 25th in the league in points per game, and saying they struggle to score in the second half fails to capture the extent of the situation. The offense is practically nonexistent in the second half. Stated plainly, can the Redskins passing game deliver enough points to beat good teams? More specifically, can Alex Smith win games with his arm?
The second doubt is a question of proving it. It comes from a history of daring to believe only to have the chair pulled out from under us. Is this defense as good as we think it is? So far they’ve been most great, but mostly in a season less than halfway done isn’t enough to silence the unwelcome thoughts that creep into my mind. Thoughts like “the Cowboys, Giants, and Cardinals aren’t impressing anyone. How good is Carolina, really? Rodgers was on one leg in the mud. That might be a fluke.” The New Orleans game should be the exception that we can all write off, but I’m not sure that anyone is doing that with any confidence yet.
Today’s game can go a long way to granting us peace of mind. The Falcons can be a very potent offense. Will the defense shut them down? Will the offense score enough points to win even if the defense uncharacteristically surrenders more than 21 points?
I’ll find out from the press box, because life is unfair and they’ve once again given me a press pass.
The Redskins declared the following players as inactive:
No. 25 RB Chris Thompson
NO. 39 CB Adonis Alexander
No. 48 S Kenny Ladler
No. 55 C Casey Dunn
No. 71 T Trent Williams
No. 80 WR Jamison Crowder
No. 83 WR Brian Quick
The Falcons declared the following players as inactive:
No. 3 K Matt Bryant
No. 23 CB Robert Alford
No. 56 DE Steven Means
No. 68 T Austin Pasztor
No. 72 T Rees Odhiambo
No. 77 T Matt Gono
Pregame personal notes:
- I had the opportunity to talk basketball with David Aldridge in the Redskins press box. That’s a sentence I never imagined writing. Cool moment.
- Expected chocolate chip but got a mouthful of oatmeal raisin. I have no one to blame by myself.
1st Quarter update.
Terrible start to the game for the Redskins. A big penalty followed by an injury to Lauvao dooms the first drive. Two big drops and an injury to Moses dooms the second. Atlanta moved down the field with relatively ease on their first drive scoring a touchdown. Their second looked to be going the same way, but Dunbar postponed the disaster with an interception.
Falcons are perfect on 3rd down.
2nd quarter update
The doubts I held going into this game are all proving themselves well justified. Other than the 1st quarter turnover the Falcons have scored on every drive. Atlanta’s punter took the first half off and the Falcons haven’t needed to attempt a field goal. They’re a perfect 8/8 on 3rd down. Shades of New Orleans.
The Redskins offense did manage to show some signs of life midway through the second. Doctson finally caught a pass, and added a touchdown reception on top of it. Alex Smith performed a magic trick in escaping the Atlanta pass rush and scrambles for 22 yards, but nearly got himself killed at the end of the run. He came up smiling, though. Alex Smith ain’t no punk.
Holding penalty wiped out a big play that put the Redskins in field goal position before the end of the half.
Alex Smith gets his chance to play the hero in the second half.
3rd quarter update
Redskins needed a big 3rd quarter to climb back into this one and while they did play better the lead remains unchanged after trading touchdowns with the Falcons. The offense did deliver their first third quarter touchdown of this season, so at least we have that.
14 points down, 1 quarter to play. Now is the time for Alex Smith to prove he's special.
Redskins are running out of lineman and racking up an impressive number of penalties.
4th quarter disaster
The redskins needed everything to go right in order to have chance of erasing a 14 point deficit, but fell apart instead. Offense turned it over and otherwise failed to do anything of note. The Falcons ate up 6 minutes and some change on their way to a field goal and then put the cherry on this depressing sundae by ending Julio Jones' touchdown drought.
End result, the second 24 point blowout of the season.
I entered into this week with doubts and after the game I find that they've been largely validated. The Redskins appear to be the team I feared they were. Good on defense, but not good enough to stop the leagues potent passing offenses. Solid on offense, but incapable of scoring very many points. Especially when forced to abandon run.
The good news is that that schedule seems to be offering up many of the sorts of teams I think the Redskins can beat. The bad news is that the Redskins just aren’t as good as we’d hoped after starting 5-2. Well, that and the fact that the team is running out of offensive lineman.