Sunday, November 22, 2009

Game 10: Redskins (3-6) at Cowboys (6-3)


Out of the box: A season's salvation or just more of the same, only three hours today can tell the difference as the Redskins travel to play the Cowboys, 1pm ET on FOX, let us see if the Redskins can spoil the housewarming party.

Quick jump to


The story so far: Hope springs eternal, the Redskins put together a win against a crumbling team with strong but fading defensive statistics and suddenly the city is awash in the possibility that the Denver game was actually the real week one, that all the Redskins needed was eight games to get themselves together, that the offensive line can actually block, that the young receivers can actually play (op. cit.), that Clinton Portis is actually fungible, oh and the defense was already pretty good, we're so old we remember September when the offense sucked.

Be careful Washington, to paraphrase many a sage football mind over the past seventy years, beware thinking too many happy thoughts, translation: it is more likely the Redskins are who they are, and the Broncos game was not who they are.

And I hope I am wrong.

In football news, cornerback Carlos Rogers gave up a big play touchdown on a receiver double move twice in the past three games, he was benched in the first drive of the Broncos game and did not play the rest of the day, Fred Smoot took his place most of the day and to this point we do not know whether Carlos will regain his spot today.

Tailback Clinton Portis, increasingly doubtful throughout the week (op. cit.), was ruled out Thursday, suffering heavy headedness and blurred vision in the aftermath of his concussion in game seven against the Falcons, Ladell Betts will attempt to spark the Redskins to two good rushing weeks in a row for the first time all season, notice how no one is complaining about fullback Mike Sellers' now (ibid.)? Clinton Portis even thinks maybe he and Ladell should split more of the plays once he comes back. I think that would be a good idea to the extent that Ladell gets more carries.

Congratulations to punter Hunter the Punter Smith, he was named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week (ibid.) for his 35 yard touchdown pass to fullback Mike Sellers on fourth and twenty out of field goal formation.

Hey, want to know who's having a pretty ok season in 2009? How about rookie hybrid defensive endbacker Brian Orakpo. He already has more sacks than any Redskins rookie... ever, and with seven sacks now has more than any NFL rookie since 2006. Brian has more than exceeded expectations, we can still quibble about whether Brian was the right guy to pick for a team that was already awesome on defense, he is here now so let us review his learning curve: not a linebacker in college > moved to linebacker in the pros > no sacks in first professional game > seven sacks in next seven professional games. One would expect that Brian is still way down at the bottom of his performance curve and one day, maybe soon, he will make Andre Carter expendable.


Curly R Aside: The most ridiculous hedge ever: Clinton Portis gets his job back when he is healthy, head coach Jim Zorn will not allow Clinton to lose his job to injury. Here is the deal: Clinton took a massive smack on the head, he has never had a concussion like that and concussions are the cause celebre of the 2009 NFL season. Ladell Betts in a game and a half looked like a real NFL tailback. Add these three things together and here is what you get: Clinton Portis is done for the season and Ladell Betts will be the team's primary back for the rest of the season. For whatever reason Ladell has it right now and Clinton does not, Ladell is respected by his teammates for caring about practice and they will lay out for him. I think the locker room is done with Clinton.


Oppo Research: Dallas is humming along, they are in the NFC Beast driver's seat although last week's loss to Green Bay was just a loss where the Cowboys almost got shut out, it was the first time in thirteen straight November games that Tony Romo had not led the team to victory, under Tony and head coach Wade Phillips the Cowboys have become a force in the month of November, before sagging inevitably in December, the numbers are against the Redskins winning this game.

In the personnel department, receiver Roy Williams, for whom they gave up four draft picks and then signed to a 45 million dollar extension in 2008, has basically been a bust, he has 24 catches and three touchdowns. I love to see strife in Big D.


Trainer's Table: Defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth sprained his ankle pretty badly against the Broncos (ibid.), that was the most significant injury because as one Redskins fan chatting with Dan Dan the Sports Bog Man pointed out, Albert is really like three players considering what great seasons Andre Carter and Brian Orakpo are having. The gameplan for today's game was installed without Albert in it, he is a gametime decision.


Gameplan: Putting Chad Rinehart back in at right guard seemed to work and the team will run with the same five offensive linemen today and with tailback Clinton Portis still out Ladell Betts will get the call. These are both good things. One would hope that the geniuses that call plays for the Redskins realized after Jason Campbell completed passes to ten different receivers against Denver that a consistent running attack creates opportunities for the passing game. The reverse is not always true and that is why for generations the Redskins have been a run first team.

On defense, just keep doing what you are doing, Tony Romo is shifty in the pocket (op. cit.), so the pass rush will have to adapt, I hope Albert Haynesworth plays and I wish the secondary did not give up so many big plays. Given that three weeks in a row each Redskins opponent has scored twice on plays of 30 yards or more (op. cit.), it is amazing to me that the Redskins are the number one passing defense in the league (op. cit.), I really attribute that statistic to the improved pass rush more than to stellar play in the secondary, which it has not been.


My Take in 60 Words or Less: Are you for real or not? This is the Redskins chance to show they are not the 3-6 team they appear to be. Suck it up, it is a division game, you know these guys.


Washington Post interactive gameday, keys to the game, key matchups. Broadcast coverage, there will be a lot of the country watching this game.

Other previews: Mark Newgent's regular Redskins Examiner exchange, this week with the Cowboys Examiner.

Enjoy the game, while we have the weather we will continue to watch these games in neighbor Bill's back yard on Shed TV.

This is a gameday open thread.

NFL helmet logos from here.