The Story So Far: In the week following the Redskins seventeen point second half collapse against the Texans, there was quite the wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth, was it adjustments or lack thereof? Is it the talent level? Is the Texans offense just that good?
Monday star cornerback DeAngelo Hall announced he would be covering the opponent's top receiver on each play for the rest of the season, no matter where that player lined up and no matter what defensive coordinator Jim Haslett or head coach Mike Shanahan had to say about it, calling it his defense.
While many coaches may have admonished a player for speaking out of turn and making what could be interpreted as derogatory remarks about team business, both coaches instead used DeAngelo's remarks as an opportunity to say, uh yeah the defense does belong to the players and they wished every player was feeling as accountable as DeAngelo.
Well played coaches, let us see how this works out this week and in the coming games.
Tuesday the bomb dropped on tailback Larry Johnson, he was cut from the team, ostensibly because the team needed to create a roster spot for someone that can contribute on special teams, in reality Larry was let go because he has nothing left and the ten yard field reversal loss to open the fourth quarter of the Texans game was the last straw. At the end of camp I wondered (here, here and here) why Larry made the team, with the exception of one good carry and one good reception in the fourth quarter of the third preseason game he showed me nothing. The team signed tailback and return specialist Chad Simpson in Larry's place, Chad was previously with the Colts.
There were ripples from this move beyond Chad and Larry, little receiver and punt returner Brandon Banks, something of a surprise making the roster, was released and tailback Ryan Torain, the guy I thought all along was the second best tailback on the team in preseason, was promoted from the practice squad to the roster, I expect we will see Ryan over Keiland Williams today and also that Brandon will be back on the practice squad.
Wednesday we started looking ahead to the lineup for the offensive line, rookie left tackle Trent Williams injured his knee and toe against the Texans, if he is not better this could set off a wholesale reshuffling of the line, follow the bouncing ball: Stephon Heyer is listed as the main backup for both tackle spots and right tackle Jammal Brown is a former Pro Bowler at left tackle when he was with New Orleans, Stephon is serviceable for short periods and Jammal is still coming back from an achilles injury that caused him to miss all of last season. No idea how the coaches should handle this, if they were to ask me I would keep Jammal at right tackle and start Stephon at left, Stephon has played that spot and Jammal needs to get comfortable with playing the right spot full time.
The line shuffling continues (op. cit.) at left guard and for reasons unknown, Derrick Dockery was the established starter since coming back to the Redskins in 2009, somehow Kory Lichtensteiger has risen to the verge of taking that spot, Derrick and Kory have been rotating during games, I confess I have not analyzed the performance well enough to know the difference, Kory was not in football in 2009 so let us try and figure this one out.
Sunday the Washington Post ran an enterprise profile piece on defensive coordinator Jim Haslett, who was coach of the Saints when Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans in 2005, I have read many accounts of the storm and know many people that live there and are from there and hearing that coach Haslett and his wife think of current Saints players and anyone that was not there at the time but claims some moral or spiritual legacy from Katrina as a bunch of phonies (my paraphrase) does not surprise me.
And when I heard the Redskins had traded for defensive end Adam Carriker back in April I remember my first thought was, wow we picked up a great player, turns out Adam was chased out of Saint Louis, bonus points for giving defensive end Phillip Daniels a run for strongest Redskin.
Curly R Aside: Is this guy an idiot or what? Albert Haynesworth gave an radio interview this week where he said his refusal to participate in offseason workouts was a principled stand, that just because he got a one hundred million dollar contract that the team could not tell Albert what to do because, man that's what slavery was. Further, Albert seems to think that the Redskins defensive scheme at the time he signed in 2009, a 4-3 under head coach Jim Zorn and coordinator Greg Blache, somehow was part of the contractual agreement between him and the team and that altering the scheme to a 3-4, no matter that Albert is now ok with the whole thing, was a violation of terms and thus releases Albert from having to take orders.
If I was Albert's agent I would advise him to stay off the radio.
Oppo Research: The Rams have won one game in the past 28 and under second year head coach Steve Spagnuolo have won that game, it is fair to say the Rams are a reclamation project.
The Rams are weak across the board with a battering ram tailback in Steven Jackson, a touted rookie quarterback in Sam Bradford and a sparkplug linebacker in James Laurinaitis. Although there are no gimmes in the NFL it is fair to say the Rams are still two years from the three year rebuilding project, which makes them dangerous, the Rams and Redskins have played three of the last four seasons and the Rams have won two of them.
Look out Redskins.
Trainer's Table: Strong safety Kareem Moore should be back in action from the knee injury he suffered in the second preseason game, for those that are new here, Kareem was a training camp standout and easily won the strong safety position amidst a collection of secondary players that included three strong safeties and Kareem. Many Redskins fans are hopeful the defensive backfield will improve, we still have not seen Kareem in full speed action yet, so let us not pin too many hopes on a guy that is still an unknown.
Receiver Anthony Armstrong and safety Chris Horton did not practice this week, Anthony with his ankle and Chris with his groin, they are highly questionable for the game.
Rookie left tackle Trent Williams, who injured his knee and toe last week in the Texans game, improved through the week, he practiced Friday and was expected to play (op. cit.), as written above in the Story So Far, if Trent cannot go we will likely see Stephon Heyer at left tackle, he practiced there in Trent's absence. Late word before the game is Trent is inactive.
Defensive nose end Albert Haynesworth was back this week practicing at full speed (ibid.), fully recovered from the *kaffkaff* ankle injury *kaffkaff* that kept him out of last week's game, more evidence that everyone is just playing games, games I do not understand.
A late addition to the injury list, like as in during pregame warmups, was punter Josh Bidwell, he hurt his hip, the same one that kept him out of football last season. Kicker Graham Gano is listed as the backup punter, Graham was a punter and kicker in college, and tight end Chris Cooley or backup quarterback Rex Grossman could serve as holder on kicks if Josh is out for the game. What is it with the Redskins and punters?
Gameplan: While there are no easy games in the NFL, this must be viewed as a winnable game where the Redskins should be able to execute the offense they want. In each of the first two games we have seen a critical component of a good football team emerge, in game one it was the defense, in game two it was the passing game, in game three it needs to be the running game, the Rams gave up 145 yards to Darren McFadden of the Raiders last week, Donovan McNabb is confident it is coming, Clinton Portis thinks there is no problem, so let us see it guys.
On defense, the team is still committed to its blitzing ways even though we saw last week what happens when a good quarterback faces the blitz, that is to say he finds an open receiver and if it is the right one, a receiver that is running right into the open spot created by the blitz. The Rams though are not the Texans, Sam Bradford may have an upside, the Redskins defense should be able to confuse and victimize Sam.
My Take in 60 Words or Less: We have seen the defense, we have seen the passing game, let us see some ground attack and put this one all together, Redskins fans need a win today.
Washington Examiner preview, broadcast coverage, local markets only, we will be treated to Dick Stockton, Charles Davis and Jim Mora in the booth. I have a bad feeling about that.
Enjoy the game, I will be watching this game from the safety and comfort of my Redskins chair at home.
This is a gameday open thread.
NFL helmet logos from here.