Monday Musings Week 1
5. No Landry No Problem
On Friday night I was lucky enough to be invited to appear on Brian Mitchell’s Friday night Tailgate Show with Darrell Young and the guys from Hogs Haven and The Hogs.net on http://www.bmitchlive.tv. During one of the segments, B Mitch asked me how the team would fair without Landry, considering the Defense really dropped off without him late last year. I stated that the additions of guys like Kerrigan, Cofield and Bowen not to mention OJ and Dejon Gomes would help mask him not playing.
Last year losing Landry really hurt the team because we had so many guys out of position. Adding all the pieces to solidify the 3-4 really helps hide the fact that you’re missing a guy like Landry.
Gladly I was right and last night, the defense survived.
Not only survived but really played a heck of a game. Make no bones about it, this Giants offense is a good one (you have to be to get ten wins). Leading up to Sundays’ matchup Eli and the G Men had pretty much owned the Skins nine of the last ten times they have met, and let’s be real here we have not been able to stop the Giants running attack since Gibb’s running the show.
In the first half it looked like same old same old. Watching Nicks torch Doughty for 68 yards was enough to send me into a pillow throwing tirade. Following that with the Giants marching down the field brutalizing the front seven with the run in the second quarter was enough to push me over the edge.
I spoke to Fullback Darrell Young Friday night regarding how they were going to attack the Giants, and what they needed to do to be successful. He said that they had to limit their turnovers and stop the power run, noting that the power game killed them in the season finally last year. They knew the Giants were going to run right at them early and often. Apparently knowing its coming and stopping it is two different things, but still to see them struggle when they knew it was coming was a pretty difficult pill to swallow.
You won’t will a whole lot of games giving up 14 points in the first half, unless you can make adjustments and correct mistakes. Thank God that the Redskins did just that allowing zero points over the next two quarters with pressure that absolutely suffocated Eli Manning.
Look I’m not saying it’s a good thing Landry is out. In fact it’s pretty lame. Reed Daughty (bless his little heart) is just not close to being the player Laron is. He get’s torched in coverage consistently, and really does not bring the ability to make the big plays…ever.
The fact is last night the defense played as a unit. They had each other’s back and did everything they could to minimize the impact of not having a big play guy like Laron.
That’s really all you can ask for.
4. Strong Showing by Rookie Class
One reason the defense pitched a shutout in the 2nd half was because of the play of rookie OLB Ryan Kerrigan and seventh round pick NT Chris Neild. I had been tweeting with some of you guys back and forth throughout the game when twitter follower @rypien1191 tweeted “one turnover might win this game”, I responded that was a scary thought with Rex at QB. Literally seconds after my tweet Ryan Kerrigan came through with an absolutely beautiful tip pick six leading @rypien1191 to tweet “and there it is”.
Kerrigan is the kind of guy who just gets at it the whole game and never ever takes a snap off. Sure he is a little rough around the edges with the switch to LB from DE. Last night he showed that more importantly than playing a position he plays football. It has helped that Haslett has put him in a position to be successful while making the transition leading to Kerrigan getting a few sacks in preseason and now stealing the show in the opener.
Last night was exactly the type of performance you would hope to get out of your first round pick, and Kerrigan did not disappoint.
Neild on the other hand, is a totally different story.
Does anyone know how many players were drafted after Neild in April? Anyone? I will tell you… just one. Chris Neild was the next to last player taken in the seventh round of the 2011 NFL draft. The nose tackle from West Virginia was expected to be sort of a project. Most fans and experts thought he would be a practice squad guy. In fact Just about everyone was pretty shocked last Saturday to see him survive cut day and actually make the team.
Thankfully Shanahan and Haslett know a little more about their players than we do.
Neild said he expected to get around 10 snaps last night, but man did he make those snaps count. He was consistently adding pressure and collapsing the pocket getting two sacks on the night. Barry Cofield joked last night that Neild was already on his way to the Hall of Fame.
Joking aside Chris made serious impact on the game last night. If he can continue to make contributions like that it will allow Jim Haslett the same type of flexibility we hoped to have when Jarvis Jenkins was healthy. We should see a lot of rotation along the D Line with Bowen, Carriker, Cofield and Neild allowing Haz to attack offensive lines from every angle and keeping them guessing. In any case we should definitely be expecting a few more snaps for Neild as the season progresses.
3. Keep Loose Mr. Beck
How awful was the pass protection last night?
I really feel bad for Rex he got hit early and often against a Giant’s defense that was missing both of their pass rushers. I could understand it a little more if Osi and Tuck had played but really Trent Williams? To borrow a line “Come on Man!”
You cannot go against backup guys and get pushed around like that. Rex should have had it made last night, but the New York defenders just flat beat our big guys up front. I understand it’s the first game and all but if we don’t get some better protection John Beck is going to get his chance to play while the training staff tries to sow Grossman’s head back on.
2. The Times they are a Changin’
Remember last year when Willie Parker said the Redskins players don’t care about football and they just wanted to party and goof off?
Those days, if they even existed in the first place are long gone. Every player that I have talked to this year has told me this team is different. They don’t care about having the most popular jersey in the league. They don’t care what ESPN is saying, in fact Santana Moss told ESPN NFC East Blogger Dan Graziano “At the end of the day, we don’t really care what the outside world thinks”. This team wants to do one thing win…period.
It is such a breath of fresh air to hear that the players declined to take a “Victory Monday” day off, opting to instead get back to work preparing for the Cardinals.
I’m pretty sure Clinton Portis never begged for extra practice time win or lose, and maybe that’s why he is currently unemployed. But the point is the Skins have not been the hardest practicing team over the last few years, so seeing this culture change is a welcome site.
During the post game on Comcast Sports Net Anthony Armstrong told Kelly Johnson there is “something special” to this team, you know what I believe him.
1. HEEEEEEEEEYYYYY OOOOOOOOH, YOUR REX IS ON FIRE
If I have learned anything in my years of football obsession it is that consistency is the key to success.
Yesterday afternoon Rex Grossman became the first Redskins QB to start the Season Opener with more than two years in the same system since (are you ready for this) Gus Ferrotte. It has been no secret that the QB carousel in DC has been a nightmare since the Jeff George debacle, so we have not had a chance to see any QB actually understand a system.
On his way back to NASCAR Joe Gibbs told Dan Snyder that the most important thing they had to do when hiring a new coach was to keep some form of continuity. They failed…badly causing the team to go through two years of embarrassment at the hands of Jim Zorn, leading to the arrival of the Shanahans.
When Mike and Kyle took over and brought in Rex Grossman, I thought it was little more than bringing in a guy who knew the system to help teach, and to be able to play ok enough to be a backup (ala Al Saunders and Todd Collins). Again looks like they knew a little more than the rest of us. Grossman spent 2010 showing the team how the system was supposed to be run while Donovan McNabb did everything he could to tailor it to himself.
When McNabb was benched and Grossman was given the keys to the car, the offense absolutely took on new life. Sure Grossman turned the ball over, but in three games he twice threw for over 300 yards. Yesterday he broke the three hundred yard mark for the fourth time in his carrier.
If you are doing the math at home that means that in his time with Chicago Rex only went over 300 yards one time…once. The other three have come over his four total starts in Washington.
I’m no math wiz but that is serious improvement. This is a system that is absolutely a perfect fit for Rex and he knows it inside and out. You can see his knowledge of the system on both touchdown passes. Both were perfectly placed balls that were thrown at the exact time they needed to be. He believes in this system and more importantly the Coaches and the players believe in Rex.
IF (and I understand that is a big IF) Rex can keep the turnovers down, we could be in for a real treat watching him run the offense in 2011. One thing is for sure, if only for one week, Mike Shanahan can tell the world “I told you so”