Takeaway drill: Redskins defense does its job, offense has not enough flashes to matter; Plaxico Burress is still a stud and Brandon Jacobs is goddamn hard to tackle; special teams shine; mechanics and injuries are mattering.
Monday Friday walkthrough: the defense carries the Redskins and the offense cannot return the favor as the Redskins lose to the Giants 16-7, fall to 0-1 to start the Jim Zorn era, not the worst possible first game to have and yet still a huge downer.
After a rollicking introduction by retired and likely future Hall of Fame defensive end Michael Strahan and a parade of retired Giants greats the defending Super Bowl champions took the field to the sounds of martial music. The Giants took the ball to start the first quarter (see also quarterly walkthrough here), after a big Steve Smith 3rd down catch Plaxico Burress, who had signed a big money extension with the Giants right before the game, gets wide open on Carlos Rogers for 30, then again for 19. On 3rd and 6 from the Redskins Reed Doughty came in and got a hand on Eli Manning on a safety blitz, Plaxico caught it in safety traffic and still came down with it. Then Fred Smoot commits a pass interference penalty on Amani Toomer in the end zone to give the Giants 1st and goal on the one, on the next play Eli runs it in for the touchdown, Giants up 7-0. Redskins get the ball back and Jason Campbell is sacked by Justin Tuck on the first play from scrimmage, Justin went inside Stephon Heyer, bounced off Randy Thomas, went around Stephon to the outside to get Jason. Two plays a false start and the Redskins are forced to punt, Durant Brooks' first punt is a bit short and the coverage is poor. The Giants get the ball back and drive easily on the back of Brandon Jacobs, kick a short 24 yard field goal, Giants up 10-0. Redskins get the ball back, look terrible, punt, Durant is nearly killed on the play, penalty on newly acquired former Eagle Jerome McDougle roughing the kicker, Redskins get fresh downs, waste them, punt, the first quarter ends 10-0 Giants.
Still with the ball to start the second quarter the Giants drive easily to the Redskins seven, on 2nd and five Fred Smoot drops an easy interception in front of Amani Toomer. Giants have to kick a
30 25 yarder (Redskins encroached to shorten it five yards), 13-0 Giants. Redskins get the ball back, look awful and commit penalties, can't get a first on third and short, punt. On the back of Brandon Jacobs including a 24 yard run and controlled passing John Carney kicks a 38 yard field goal, Giants go up 16-0. Rock Cartwright, busy having a great night breaks a 50 yard retuen, the offense comes to life, the Redskins fail a timeout drill and Jason Campbell connects on third and 11 from the Giants 12 with Santana Moss for a touchdown, Giants lead 16-7 at the half.
Redskins get the ball back to open the third quarter, an illegal block by New York on the return gives Washington the ball at the Redskins 32, Santana catches one with his balls but it is not enough, Redskins punt and Durant Brooks does not get off a great one. Giants get the ball back, Eli Manning starts to get the deer in the headlights with five on the Redskins line, Carlos Rogers misses an easy interception, Eli looks more nervous now ans Jason Taylor nearly gets a shot on him, another short arm pass and the Giants three and out. Redskins get the ball back and Clinton Portis breaks off a 22 yard cutback run, rookie Devin Thomas makes his debut, short, Redskins punt. Brandon Jacobs is a diesel then Fred Smoot dives for an Eli Manning pass and intercepts it, Mo can't decide where to sit. Redskins punt on a drive featuring a devastating block of Mathias Kiwanuka by Clinton Portis. Giants drive easily, quarter ends 16-7 Giants.
New York continues to drive to start the fourth quarter, Andre Carter bulls his way across left tackle and meets LaRon Landry at Eli Manning for a sack, an incomplete and an illegal shift penalty gives the Giants second and 23, two plays later Eli floats one just past Plaxico Burress who was watching LaRon and the Giants punt. To get in the game the Redskins would need to get points on this drive, it starts with three straight Clinton Portis runs for a first down then Antwaan Randle El commits his second false start penalty of the game. Redskins punt and Brandon Jacobs is unstoppable. Chris Wilson pours through the Giants line to sack Eli and the Giants punt. After a late hit on Clinton Portis call the Giants stuff Clinton then Antwaan catches a 26 yarder, a Clinton catch is nullified by a Chris Samuels holding call, now second and 17, the Redskins throw two consecutive passes short of the chains and turn it over on downs. Brandon Jacobs carries the entire Redskins team cartoon style but is short of the first down, Giants punt. Redskins get the ball back and Jason Campbell's last gasp is a deep ball to James Thrash, it bounced right out of his cradle, Redskins take a couple of practice type end zone shots and the game ends, 16-7 Giants.
Soapbox: a flaccid start to the season, no first downs in the first quarter. Only 16 net yards through three minutes left in the half. The scoring drive at the end of the second quarter produced the first non penalty first down, with Jim Zorn this team is going to be known for its offense and this was not a good start for that unit.
And now for the defense: gave it up large in the first quarter and then shut it down. That unit played well and I see little reason to dwell, Andre Carter and Fred Smoot made the memorable plays. Bad case of the dropsies though, Fred Smoot hauled in one interception, he dropped another gift and Carlos Rogers dropped two.
Stephon Heyer struggled against Justin Tuck. Chris Samuels did better against Mathias Kiwanuka though he committed a couple of penalties.
Timeout drill FAIL: Why did the Redskins not call a timeout with 56 seconds left in the half, the extra 15 seconds robbed them of a play. This is a Joe Gibbs mistake. That it worked out with the Santana Moss touchdown is not a reason not to review clock management.
After the defense made a day of it the offense lacked urgency at the end of the game, they appeared to be worried about scoring not winning.
Rock Cartwright is a stud, 29 yard average on five kickoff returns with that 50 yarder thrown in there.
When John Madden tells me the Redskins do not have a two minute offense installed because Jim Zorn's offense is so deep they have not gotten around to it I do not believe it, I have to think the Redskins two minute offense is just raw.
Chattering class: Sally Jenkins also at the Washington Post lowers the boom on the entire Redskins organization. Samples of her syntax, some paraphrasing:
no discernible identity... a shapeless and indistinct mess... world-class amateur of an owner... Zorn just another underling, barely seems a part of the organization... the Giants played lousy but the Redskins were so very very lousy that it did not matter... Redskins never close to winning, clearly overmatched... the big West Coast Offense debut? One serious drive in 60 minutes play, set up by a 50 yard kickoff return... Redskins will have to claw mightily to do better than .500... lack of urgency at the end...
Er, not good.
Jason La Canfora also at the WaPo with his columnist hat on (he also has beat writer and blogger hats) writes that the new Redskins defense looks a lot like the old Redskins defense: no pass rush, dropped interceptions, too many plays in the secondary. Yes the defensive unit looked small and weak in the first half, whatever Greg Blache did at halftime worked, Eli was made to look average and the Giants scored no points in the second half.
At the same outlet Mike Wise writes that Jason Campbell should follow the trail blazed by Eli Manning and that Jason is at the crossroads Eli was a year ago. The image of Eli stoically and with a hand on Jason's shoulder dispensing advice about how to quote get where I am unquote is comical, yeah Jason I would like to see you follow Eli's path to Super Bowl MVP and not to easily rattled, lacking confidence and one step from disaster.
Les Carpenter at the Washington Post gets the now obligatory front page A1 piece, below the fold and to the left of uplifting stories about how the US has been spying on Iraqi leaders for years, wait what? I thought we owned them anyway, why do we need to spy on them?, and how the Pentagon is recommending a halt to US troop drawdowns from Iraq until you guessed, right after the next president takes office, I've got your inherited mess right here Sally.
Rick Snider at the Washington Examiner writes that the Redskins were shredded and still somehow managed to keep it respectable. That is because of the defense, they swiss cheesed it in the first half, no one had to wake up Giants punter Jeff Feagles (damn, that guy is still in the league?) until the second half. In the second half no one was going no where.
Also at the Examiner John Keim breaks it down pretty well, poor run defense by the Redskins, somewhat improved in the second half by splitting defensive ends Andre Carter and Jason Taylor further to control the edge runs; drops interceptions, at least three two by Carlos Rogers and one by Fred Smoot; weak protection and no rhythm to the passing game. That's all?
At the Washington Times Dan Daly ponders whether the Redskins are headed for a high draft pick in 2009. You know, this gamewrap was written last night and I culled the chattering class on Friday and I have to say, ENOUGH, yes the offense was bad, the defense was great and a good defense gives a stumbling offense time to get on its feet (see also, Washington Redskins).
Also at the WashTimes David Elfin has Q & A with himself, theme: not ready for football, and grades the Redskins: running game C, passing game F, run defense D, pass defense D, special teams B (Rock is awsum, Durant needs to improve), coaching F.
Omnibus: Michael Strahan looks like he has lost some weight (op. cit.). Temperature at kickoff was 87 degrees Fahrenheit.
Somehow reserve linebacker Khary Campbell injured a quadricep in the coin toss and was not able to play at all (ibid.).
Chris Samuels was on the field less than a week after his wife's friend was killed in an ATV accident at his home in southern Maryland. My thoughts are with his family and the family of Lashana Wilson, the departed.
Jason Taylor kept his string of 130 consecutive starts alive and earned start number 131 and played in pain all night (op. cit.). Shawn Springs was inactive with the calf bruise. LaRon took the field having missed the entire preseason with a hamstring injury.
Carlos Rogers got abused early by Plaxico Burress for 30 and 19 yards in the first quarter. Later he would tighten up with the rest of the defense which did not stop him from dropping two sure interceptions, I guess it is true what they say, if cornerbacks could catch they would be receivers.
The pass interference call on Fred Smoot in the first quarter was a good call, Amani Toomer and Fred were jostling, Fred tangled him up and prevented Amani from making the play.
Stephon Heyer let Justin Tuck get by him two ways on the Giants' first sack, once to the inside and when Randy Thomas was there Justin simply went around to the outside, then got called for a false start two plays later (ibid.), not a great start for Stephon.
LaRon Landry tried to tackle Brandon Jacobs on the Giants second drive... and bounced off Brandon like a mosquito, I think LaRon is about two inches shorter today.
With a minute to go in the half and the Redskins driving the Giants committed an offsides and a facemask and head referee Ed Hochuli totally and hilariously botches the announcement, it was really funny.
On third down of the second half opening drive Santana caught a pass that hit him, he first took contact from Corey Webster, possession was never established, contact ended, ball is out never touched the turf, Santana bounces the ball off his leg and traps the ball between his right hand and his balls, gets up with no contact and runs toward the end zone. The play was ruled dead meaning no possible challenge, it was ruled a catch and down, not enough for the first down, should have been a bizarre ball catching play that resulted in a touchdown.
Rookie Devin Thomas made his debut in the third quarter, his first NFL catch was a five yard catch on third and six. Note to west coast offense: those rigid timing patterns should always consider the chains.
Clinton Portis put converted linebacker defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka on his back in the third quarter (op. cit.), it is true that Clinton is one of the best blocking tailbacks in the league, a fact he is not hesitant to cite.
LaRon Landry was badly beaten on for a Brandon Jacobs 15 yard gain in the third quarter, it was Andre Carter on pursuit and on the next play Andre closed on Eli Manning forcing the throw than Fred Smoot intercepted. Two cookies for Andre. A hammy checkup for LaRon.
That dreadlocked player you saw at the end of the third quarter making a hard sideline hit on Derick Ward was number 48, rookie strong safety Chris Horton.
In the fourth quarter after his second false start penalty John Madden said of Antwaan Randle El that a receiver should never commit a false start penalty, I agree.
The fourth quarter extracurriculars between Antonio Pierce and Pete Kendall were lol, Antonio started it and wailed on Pete's head, Pete never let go and used his superior leverage to push Antonio back removing his helmet with er no unsnapping; offsetting non penalties.
Jason Campbell's last gasp at the end zone to James Thrash was a great pass, probably would have been out of bounds.
My neighbor wore an original owner vintage 1987 Super Bowl 22 champions shirt, right.
So so disappointing to see Joe Gibbs up at the podium at the Republican National Convention as the Redskins were playing (ibid.), Redskins fans always knew Joe was a wealthy Jesus loving conservative, to see him up there actively trying to get a Republican elected to president in this economy, in these wars and with our national image in tatters makes me want to claw my eyes out and chug pine sol until the memories of idolizing him are suppressed.
Addicted to Zorn: Jim Zorn loses his first game as head coach, falls to 0-1 career. The offense was not possessed with the fire tonight, my hope is coach Zorn looks at what did work and not what did not. Hard to assess the play calling, aside from CALLING THIRD DOWN PLAYS WITH RECEIVER ROUTES THAT END SHORT OF A FIRST DOWN YOU BUMPASS, the whole thing was like blindness at dusk. Magic potion.
Shooter: Jason Campbell did not complete a pass until the second quarter, finished 15 of 27 and a touchdown, no fumbles or interceptions so he's got that going for him. Did not suck worse than the offense as a whole.
Coltrolled: got nothing for Colt Brennan tonight, watch Colt get pwned in the Redskins players fantasy football draft.
Washington Post / AP recap, box score, play by play, photos. NFL recap, box score, full play by play, Gamebook (PDF), photos.
Other recaps: Will Allensworth at Hogs Haven has post game bile from last night; Rich Tandler did another live blog, stay on topic or find yourself another blog; David Wagner at Riggo's Rag quick post game take / detailed; Om at The Om Field did not watch the game but did listen to the first two series in the car and said quote shit unquote, he will be reviewing tape tonight and may put up a longer recap; Redskins AOL Fanhouse has a live blog then not one but two recaps; Tony Brown recaps at Hog Heaven, says you haven't seen Jim Zorn's offense yet, well duh Tony; Lee Gibbons at The Redskin Report a Joe Gibbs comparison, new coach, same offense; PennSkinsFan at DC Pro Sports Report has a quick take West Coast Flop and a more measured assessment of the suckiness:
Jim Zorn has some big problems. Big problems.
Next up (PDF), the home opener versus the New Orleans Saints with former Redskins playoff quarterback Mark Brunell and former Giants tight end Jeremy Shockey (ibid.).
Top image by neighbor. Mark Brunell, Getty Images from here.