Sunday, September 20, 2009

Game 2: Redskins (0-1) vs. Rams (0-1)


Out of the box: A familiar and frustrating foe in St. Louis comes to Washington for the Redskins home opener, 1pm on FOX, the Rams are under new management and still look bad, their new coach knows the Redskins well. Trap game?


The story so far: Eight months of anticipation came to a thudding end last week as the Redskins were beaten by the Giants in the road season opener, there were shades of last season's opener, that loss has left Washington in the grip of fear: fear that the Redskins are undisciplined; fear that the Redskins are out of shape; fear that the Redskins have no heart for the game.

Into this situation comes a team coached by a former NFC Beast division coordinator, on that team's roster are most of the players that contributed to the Rams' game six upset victory of the Redskins last season. So is it already must-win time?

Defensive tackle Albert aka Not Superman Haynesworth and hybrid defensive endbacker Brian Orakpo made their debuts with the team, those were two bright spots in general, the team was ready to move on right after the Giants game, and who can blame them, there are fifteen more games to go.

Fullback Mike Sellers got a new contract, nice to know he will be around a while longer I guess. Receiver Santana Moss was fined five thousand dollars for mixing it up with Giants cornerback Corey Webster, this is what they meant by lack of discipline.

There was also some hand wringing in the area of tailback Clinton Portis, something about his not clamoring for the ball, while it is true there the Redskins do better when he carries the ball more, I do not believe it is fair to presume that because Clinton refuses to call Jim Zorn a shitty coach that he is suddenly soft.

These teams are very familiar with one another, in addition to the unexpected loss to the Rams last season (op. cit.), these teams also played in 2006, game fifteen at St. Louis, that game went to overtime as the Redskins scored 31 points and still lost as St. Louis tailback Steven Jackson racked up 150 yards on the ground and quarterback Marc Bulger threw for damn near 400 yards, in that game the Redskins gave up a two touchdown lead and Ladell fumbled for the fifth time that season.


Curly R aside: Curly R is now officially a Mac-run operation, I finally unpacked my fifteen inch MacBook Pro this week, I love it though I will admit I am having a hard time learning all the new keyboard shortcuts, I have been a Windows guy all my life and it is a bit jarring not only to have a new computer for the first time in nine years but also to have a new type of computer.


Oppo research: The Rams were blanked 28-0 last week, they committed ten penalties, quarterback Marc Bulger completed less than fifty percent of his passes, cornerback Oshiomogho Atogwe is their only serious impact player. Scott Linehan was fired after one year as coach and the guy that was almost Jim Zorn's boss is the new coach. Seems like a team ripe for beating, and it is the Redskins hope opener to boot. Washington is 20-8-1 all time against the Rams, but 0-2 in the last three seasons.


Trainer's table: There were no injuries in the game, everyone is generally healthy, left tackle Chris Samuels and reserve defensive tackle Anthony Montgomery both missed practice this week with knee soreness, of the two obviously Chris' is the more serious concern, if Chris Samuels were to go down that would start a chain reaction that would see Stephon Heyer move to left tackle and former 400 pound man Mike Williams step up to right tackle.

And while it is not technically an injury, concerns for prize signing defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth's wind and conditioning appear to be real, Albert himself admits he gets tired and needs to come out of games, upon further review there was only one player on the Redskins defense that was in the game for more snaps than Albert, that would be defensive end Andre Carter (op. cit.), I think this is much ado about nothing.

Unless that is the Rams do what center Jason Brown said back in August that they were going to do in this game, and that is come at the Redskins no huddle for the first half to try and wear Albert out and neutralize him.


Gameplan: It is the Rams, they have a new coach and new system, no offense or defense to speak of, they got shut out last week 28-0 to a Seahawks team itself with a new coach. The plan here has to be to get a running rhythm early, exploit St. Louis' defensive weaknesses and let quarterback Jason Campbell into a groove, use tight end Chris Cooley. I would also advocate a firm statement in this game, win or lose, that Jim Zorn is coaching not to lose.

Speaking of Jason, he is in charge of this team, even says he got on some teammates in the Giants game for what he considered poor play, the TV cameras never picked that up, but I suppose that does not mean it did not happen. I am a firm believer that leadership is more than yelling at people, many of us are still waiting to see what it means for Jason to say this is his team.

On defense, it seems like defensive coordinator has been here long enough for him not to need to get up to speed on the defense, but I get the gist nonetheless. Last year the defensive unit was premised on strong coverage, this year it needs to have more input and results from the line, they may be elite on paper but are still a work in progress in practice.


My take in 60 words or less: Win this game, or it gets real hot in Washington.


Washington Post interactive Gameday, Redskins roster, keys to the game, key matchups; broadcast coverage,only the local markets are seeing this one; SkinsCast weather, it is going to be a beautiful day, at least for the fans, for the players it could get hot.

Someone's going home 0-2 today.

This is a gameday open thread.

NFL helmets from here.