Monday, September 13, 2010

Thoughts on Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins [9/12]

I’m very skeptical in judgment on the offense. While part of me wants to be harsh and admit the offense was not on-par… the realist in me needs to admit that the Dallas Cowboys still do have one of the surest defenses in the NFL, and I wasn’t going into this game expecting any huge 42-7 blowout on our behalf.

I felt like Donovan McNabb did a good job hitting his target on a majority of his throws, under pressure, standing tall, on the run… I noticed he was slightly off on screens (except the long-gain by Cooley). He locked in on Cooley and Moss most of the game (surest hands) but I’ll give it to the fact that he recognized mismatches, or they were simply beating their defenders. I liked a couple of the shots downfield, but Dallas gets quick pressure, so some of the long-ball opportunities were just negated.

Trent Williams is a stud at left tackle. His biggest problem was trying to adjust to what Ware was doing, and he’d key in on it and Ware would change from power to speed. Williams allowed a sack, had a pressure allowed, and was called for a false-start… a rookie, in front of 90,000+ against the Dallas Cowboys and DeMarcus Ware, and those three plays were all he screwed up on? Seasoned veterans have problems with that; I’ll take this kid anyday. Great blocking downfield on the Cooley screen as well.

Jammal Brown also performed tremendously, and was solid all game. Coaches gave him a break, and continued to evaluate Heyer at tackle. Heyer handled himself very well. There was some subbing back and forth on the line to determine who was winning the battle… but I’m sure just to get in-game experience as well on the chance someone goes down.

Santana Moss battled all night long, and came up big in some key moments. He also lined up in the backfield to help in run-blocking, and really exceeded at it. He looked loose and like he was really having fun and enjoying himself. Chris Cooley the same.

Outside of them, receivers didn’t necessarily show up. Kyle Shanahan called the same play back-to-back, fade to Anthony Armstrong in the endzone in what seemed to be a mismatch vs. Mike Jenkins. While it showed confidence in Armstrong’s abilities and getting him the opportunity to experience the situation, it also rang out (in my mind) that Kyle Shanahan was pleading his case for a go-to clutch receiver who can pose a mismatch for corners with height and size. It’s been believed the Redskins were in the hunt for someone, only time will tell if a guy (say, Vincent Jackson) becomes a possible target after Thursday’s meeting with the league.

Defensively, Washington came to play ball. I tweeted earlier in the week that the mismatch I was scared about was the Cowboys receivers vs. Reed Doughty… and while he seemed responsible for giving up the touchdown, I think he actually handled his duties rather incredibly. It helped that the front seven got pressure and allowed him to attack rather than react.

The defensive line is still a bit of an uncertainty for us as well. Haynesworth wanted to play, and I’m sure the more he plays the better… but when he was on the field, he did get manhandled and dominated by Gurode. Ma’ake Kemoeatu didn’t fare well either at times… he got blown up off the snap several times. The DE’s did a very solid job though.

Rocky McIntosh and London Fletcher got pushed around a bit allowing Dallas to run on us at times, but key reactions really helped the two of them out in getting to the ball carrier and not giving up huge gains. They’ll become far more accustomed as the season goes on. Loved seeing McIntosh attacking the QB for once and getting a sack finally.

Orakpo was a beast all night long, being tackled, held, lassoed, clotheslined… he kept fighting though. We’ll get to the controversy in a minute… but the rest of the game, Orakpo commanded respect and got it… and it makes it all the more scary to imagine what happens when he’s not being double or triple teamed a couple weeks from now.

Carter played outstanding for the most part… I didn’t see him struggle in coverage even if it wasn’t a lot of man-to-man. Alexander and Wilson also impressed last night, playing both sides… Zo playing multiple positions.

Rogers, Buchanon, and Hall came into the game with a solid gameplan and really held their own. Westbrook was good when he came in as well. I thought Rogers was the most outstanding at containing, he didn’t let anything come his way. Hall got tested and beat a bit, but played VERY sound football and was one of the key performers without his score…

LaRon Landry is my player of the game though. I said Landry would greatly benefit from being back at his true position, and while he was still playing several schemes like a free safety instead of a strong safety, he played solid and handled himself well. He made great plays, taking outstanding angles and not misjudging anything.

Special teams, Gano was outstanding, Bidwell struggled at times on punts, and Sundberg was very questionable snapping the ball. I’d personally love to see Ethan Albright return to the lineup as the sure-hand at the job. Devin Thomas was outstanding returning kickoffs, hitting the hole powerfully and quickly. Coverage units were tremendous.

Dallas’ decision-making from coaches was horrible. They obviously don’t communicate well enough. The fumble before the half never should have happened, and the team was simply doing what they were told to do. I still don’t believe Wade Phillips controls his locker room, and with that mentality, the Cowboys can be favored on talent all they want, but they’ll forever remain losers at the end of the year.

The Redskins played with an intensity, a new mindset that we haven’t seen since Joe Gibbs. The players tried to put the game away, and offensive woes (or Dallas’ defensive dominance) hindered that, but the team actually tried to win the game. Last year, this team probably would have lost… this year, it appears there is a focus on trying to put games away, and as long as they try, they give themselves the chance to do.

Brian Orakpo was tangled by the neck on the final play of the game, the second hold by Barron on him of the nature. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a fine handed out for Barron not once, but twice, wrapping his arm around the throat of Orakpo. On the last play, Romo scrambled and found Roy Williams open in the endzone for what appeared to be the game-tying touchdown… flag down for holding. Time is run off, play is negated, Redskins hold on to win.

Game balls go to:

Donovan McNabb, Trent Williams, Santana Moss, Brian Orakpo, DeAngelo Hall, LaRon Landry

Welcome to the new era of the Washington Redskins!

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