My initial breakdown is that the Colts are still the Colts (their defense is what has been susceptible this year) and the fact that we went down by as much as 10 and stuck around until the final moments of the game, is very satisfying. We’ve BEEN a team where talent alone has kept us in games like these… but this is a game we would have lost for sure in years prior; last night, we really beat ourselves.
The Redskins moved the ball very well on the ground even though Indianapolis looked to be playing more disciplined vs. the run than they had all season. Ryan Torain showed a quick elusiveness to make the first and second man miss, and then good vision and power to get where he had to go. His lack of speed is beneficial at times as it really forces his patience, and he finds some very good lanes (which I can’t figure out why Portis couldn’t see them). Torain appears to be a substantial back, and while we’ll face more physical, heavier defenses in future weeks, I thought the line did what they were supposed to do against the run last night.
The passing game really concerns me though. Starting with the line, we gave up more pressures than we should have. I think Trent Williams (with an injury) did a Hell of a job against Dwight Freeney (very often on an island) and that was very much a key to us hanging around *More on Trent later*. Armstrong played sufficient for his first appearance as a 2, he’s got some real solid hands. Moss was also fire, as usual, but after that, I’m not sure. Cooley showed poor effort at times and had some very huge drops which I’m not happy with; he ended up leaving the game with a concussion which I believe he sustained on the goalline fake-sweep play. Galloway’s routes aren’t amazing, and it seems like his timing with McNabb isn’t really there. I’m also concerned that we don’t see enough separation over the top with all of the speed we’ve got at the position. Fred Davis clearly isn’t in sync with McNabb either… I felt like he did a tremendous job away from the ball last night where McNabb could have found him a few times. I wonder if Davis is in the doghouse as well, because we know once he gets on the field, he’s a completely different person than practice shows us.
Playcalling? I was very skeptical of the Ryan Torain sweep on 3rd and 1 in the 4th quarter. There was a play that had it gone up the middle at that point in the game, it’s a sure first in my opinion. Redskins couldn’t convert on 3rd down through the air, and really struggled to establish an identity (as has been the case all season). We really need to see a more cut-throat team on 3rd downs… and power up the middle with Torain would have been the choice there. The other play that concerns me in this game was the 4th down call late in the game where McNabb went deep to Armstrong… I thought he had Armstrong open earlier than when he threw it, but he waited for that deep cut through the DB’s or something... but again, he missed the opportunity to hit Fred Davis underneath on a chip and release which could have been good for at least 20 after the catch.
Penalties – On kick coverage with Brandon Banks, you don’t need to hold… this kid is fast and elusive enough to get away from defenders and absorb contact… give him a chance. It also hurts when you back us up to the 10 every single drive… as opposed to the 25-30 where we were finishing our returns (a couple of the holds happened away from the play and had no real impact on the returns).
Defensively – there was nothing we were going to do against Peyton Manning in order to slow him down and get ourselves in position to make substitutions. Peyton Manning is the smartest coach in the NFL right now, and there really was no limiting. Collinsworth made a great point about the crowd letting Manning get his plays called which is something FedEx needs to work on… we used to be good at that… I blame the Zorn era and being unfamiliar. We need 92,000 rocking at all moments the offense isn’t on the field, and I mean ALL moments!
Run-defense was non-existent for the most part, but we committed to stopping the pass and that is what hurt us. We didn’t want down-linemen because Peyton still threw like Peyton does and rushed his no-huddle, and that would have slaughtered our defensive linemen.
Pass defense, I felt we did a little better than the yards show. Peyton does this to everyone, again… so it’s easy to just let this one go. I thought Buchanon stepped up huge when he needed to, and Carlos Rogers continued to cover very well… Hall on the other hand really upset me with his coverage… this is HIS defense, I thought? He can’t cover a 1, 2, 3, 4, OR 5… that’s very upsetting.
Special teams – Hunter Smith did a pretty good job punting the ball… coverage units were outstanding yet again. Graham Gano’s still not a good kicker but we’re not going to find any better out on the streets. It amplifies our need to just get the ball into the endzone… long-snapper actually did a good job last night, so Gano’s only got himself to blame.
Players of the Game:
Donovan McNabb – He made some bad mistakes, and took some bad steps in the pocket, but he played a hell of a game and his last TD drive was the prime example of what we’ve been missing here in DC. Jason Campbell’s had those opportunities in years past and he’d make a terrible throw late in a good drive. McNabb was picked off on 1st down to end the game… but the INT was a better play than McNabb having a horrible throw… McNabb is clutch, and plays very well when it counts… he does even early (but some others don’t show up).
Trent Williams – He’s the unsung “hero” of our night on offense in my opinion. He had a penalty and Freeney got a couple of pressures, but I’ve said since June that Freeney is the most feared defensive player in the NFL. Williams did a great job, and he studies (as evidenced by the angles of his blocks, in particular on the screen-play to Simpson). He did a great job defending a lot of Freeney’s arsenal and was left on an island maybe 95% of the night.
Ryan Torain – He performed… whether it was a bad Colts defense or not (more not, they played sound last night in getting to the ball carrier). He fought through tackles that often should have been the end and fell forward. He lost some yards on a few plays, but the only I really fault him for was the misdirection in the redzone when he took a wider cut back than he should have.
Santana Moss – He’s still the most stable piece on this offense. His route running and hands are incredible. He knows how to work zones, and he’s a guy that’s not afraid at all to go over the middle. McNabb’s been a difference maker for us, but I still believe Moss is our offensive MVP.
Mike Sellers – Mike blocked well last night on the run, and he had a huge reception where he broke off of 3 tackles and rumbled down-field in the second half. He definitely played one of his better games of the season last night, and appeared to have his hunger back.
Casey Rabach – This guy was roughneck and blue collar run blocking… he got great chips to create a hole and found himself accompanying Torain into the secondary a few times. He held up in pass-pro as well.
Brian Orakpo – He didn’t have a spectacular night… he came into the game feeling ill, an ended up playing more than he probably was told at the beginning of the night. There were still a number of holds on him that the officials just missed (one where his facemask was getting ripped around in particular). He still got his hand on the ball for a sack-fumble at one point in the game though… this man’s heart bleeds burgundy and gold.
London Fletcher – He’s not cut out to be a 3-4 ILB who can attack the line as a linemen when a lineman drops back in a zone-coverage… but he still performs and takes care of his business. His hit on Addai was crucial.
LaRon Landry – He’s still an animal, and ends up with another takeaway of his own on the fumble recovery of the aforementioned hit on Addai. He took maybe one or two bad angles on the night, but he still plays with an intensity I don’t think I’ve seen on the Redskins, even including the late Sean Taylor.
My Game Ball (even though we lost) goes to Santana Moss *see above for why*.