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Game thoughts


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- Is Lockett ahead of Green on the depth chart, and if so, is it because of Green's PR duties? If so, KL showed me something today with a great TD catch to put us back on top.

- Our defense only sporadically generated a pass rush, although it seemed to improve a bit as the game went on, which seemed to coincide with more blitzes. But there were frankly few times for Plummer to have to consider scrambling. Wynn and Wilkinson had quiet games in particular.

- Our o-line almost never had any push on running plays. Frankly, I saw more AZ defenders in our backfield during run plays than vice versa. Perhaps this just goes with the territory in our new run-blocking scheme, where we "influence block" defenders instead of drive blocking them. And Davis (or at least his stats) didn't seem to mind . . . However, the pass protection was solid, with Matthews almost never seeming to have to worry about pressure at all.

- Despite the above o-line observations, Stephen Davis always seems to run stronger in the second half, and always falls forward. Amazing.

- Why put Smoot instead of Bailey against Boston? Smoot is less physical, and is a poor tackler, especially against someone that size. That cost us RAC yardage after several catches, and allowed Boston a couple of virtually uncontested catches with Smoot only pestering him after the catch like a terrier nipping at his heels. To me, Boston on Smoot is a mismatch. Add to that Smoot's brain fart on the Boston TD, with his eyes in the backfield and biting/hesitating and then stumbling on Plummer's pump fake, and the Cardinals almost had enough to get back in the game. This is inexcusable, as Boston is the only true superstar on that team. How can you allow him the opportunity to beat you?

- AZ's two TD's came off of two Redskins miscues- a Matthews INT deep in our territory (which was simply unlucky) and Smoot's brain fart. This could easily have been a 31-9 or 31-12 Redskins win if those things don't happen.

- Arizona moved the ball better than I would have liked overall, but our defense did seem to stiffen right at the time we needed them to.

- NFL, meet Rod Gardner, your newest #1 WR. Meet Derrius Thompson, your newest #2 WR. Are you afraid? :)

- We still have penalty problems, although that seemed mostly to be the case in the first half.

- I have zero faith in our KR's right now. That was a circus out there, no matter who was catching. Get Watson out of there! WTF was that jump he made at the ball in the first half!?!? And Derrius had better start looking confident in a hurry, or else he needs to go too. Maybe this is McCants' opening into the active roster and the lineup . . .

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My observations:

1. Matthews is likely going to hold the starting qb spot for some time if he stays healthy.

2. Gardner, Thompson, Lockett and Doering appear to be the top 4 receivers right now. Green was all but invisible and dropped that ball on the return :(

3. The offensive line, contrary to your own comments, IS in my mind showing that it can block for the run. Again, when the game was in doubt through the first three quarters, Davis was averaging 5 yards a carry. It was only after the Skins started to whittle away at the clock in the fourth quarter did Davis start to get stacked up, and his per carry average suffered as a result.

4. The Redskins pass rush will be a work in progress in 2002. No, Gardener and Wilkinson did not generate a great inside rush, but the Cardinals could not run inside at all, and Jones' yards all came on pitches to the outside and as counters from spread out formations. The Skins ability up the middle vs run with Gardener, Wilkinson and Trotter is going to pay some nice dividends down the road.

5. Other than getting the win, perhaps the best news for the season is that both Chris Samuels and Daryl Gardener not only started but finished the game healthy :D

These guys are a huge part of what we are trying to accomplish up front and have the rare ability to dominate opponents. We need them to be more than merely a decent team in 2002.

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I agree with a lot of your points. I am happy with a win, but was hoping for a blowout. Maybe Arizona is that good, but some of the same things jumped out at me:

1) no significant pass rush except occasionally Bruce around the outside. Big Daddy got manhandled.

2) terrible run defense from the DL. Again they got shoved around. This was inexplicable to me.

3) strange defensive play calling that seemed to keep Bailey away from Boston.

4) too much zone defense

But, credit where credit is due. Plummer has become a much more mature QB. Boston is a big baby the way he asks for interference when he is the one commiting it, but there is no denying he is a superstar, and he would get those bogus calls if he played for Dallas or the Giants.

I hope, though, that it turns out that Arizona has a great OL, because we certainly made it look that way today.

The other good thing was that Marvin Lewis looked p.o.d at the end. And he should. I don't think he'll be giving any Norv Turner "we did what we needed to win" speeches to the troops tonight.

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Overall it was a pretty good start to the season. A win is a win. The most glaring shortcomings to todays game were: a lack of a consistant pass rush, and a horrible kickoff game. Plummer had way too much time to throw all day long. Our secondary should be commended for their play. Other than the Fred Smoot mistake, they played super all day long. We have to find a way to generate a pass rush. Where was Arrington? Defensive MVP this season????? You better pick it up LaVar. I barely heard his name mentioned all day long. The Cards started all day long in great field position. I'm beginning to lose all faith in Conway. A hamstring cramp????? C'mon man!!!! The kickoff game was worse than the high school game I attended Friday night. A high school kid was kicking the ball just as far on kickoffs as Conway was today. Take these two things away and the Skins crush the Cards. Spurrier's play calling was as good as I have seen in Washington since Joe Gibbs. He got a little conservative late, but if we had a kicker that could reach the endzone on kickoffs, the Cards would not have been much of a threat to score. Garder, Davis, and Matthews played very well. The o-line held together and provided pretty decent pass protection. If they aviod injuries, they should get better as the season progresses. All in all it wasen't a bad effort for the first game. This team will only get better as they learn under Spurrier. I think we are in for a good ride with the old ball coach!

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You gatta remember dude, when the oposing team is starting every possesion from their own forty or better, your defense is under alot of pressure. Pin the Cards back a few times and you might have seen some plays stopped in the backfield. Plummer is a much better QB, and the Cards o-line isn't that bad. Beleive me, the run defense is the least of our worries right now. We need a kicker big time!

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The question mark, going into todays game was whether Sperrier's offense would work in the NFL. It did. It put up 300+ yards and 31 points with a QB that everyone said was no good. Not only did he throw for 300+ yards, he completed 70% of his passes and the only Int came from a ball he tried use to give an enema to an offensive lineman. The offense answered every question asked of it thus far.

As for the defense, I hold to the fact that it is damn hard to defend properly when you are constantly playing 'uphill' on a 'short' field. Why Bailey wasn't on Boston is beyond me, but considering he is one of the NFL's elite receivers, I am not too worried about the secondary vs. the rest of the league. I would like to see some more blitzes and more pressure on the opposing QB, hopefully Lewis will rectify this situation next week vs. the Eagles...although I would prefer to keep McNabb in the pocket.

The ONLY thing that made this game close was our atrocious kickoffs...fix that and todays game ends up 31-17 or worse.

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