Sunday, December 6, 2009

Saints give the Redskins their third consecutive gut-wrenching loss, and I pick myself up off the living room floor to try to wrap my head around it

OK my head is kind of swimming right now. I'm not exactly thinking coherently at the moment, but I'm going to try to record some of my reactions, in no particular order:

- Three weeks in a row that we have outplayed more talented opponents and let them slip away. This team is so much better than in the first half of the season, and because of the way the schedule was arranged we jsut can't quite convert it into wins. Please don't bother me of loser-talk, I know that moral victories aren't good enough, but after Dallas, the Eagles, and the Saints all barely escaped with hard-earned wins, I feel so much better about the state of this team and our prospects for next year. This team, I think, is currently at an 8-8 or 9-7 level of quality - but of course they didn't get there until after losing all of their "easy" games in the first half of the year.

- The commentators didn't mention this, and maybe I'm missing something, but why did the Redskins run a play before the two minute warning? Unless I'm confused about the clock situation at that point they could have let it run to two minutes, then run a running play and take :40 seconds off of Drew Brees' window of opportunity. If my memory isn't failing me, this was an appalling bit of clock management. UPDATE: I just went back and checked and I was totally wrong about this. The previous play ended with :42 seconds before the two minute warning. As I was watching it I had it in my head that we had more play clock available and was screaming at them to let it go.

- LaRon Landry has been killing us all year and needs to be benched or moved to strong safety. It's not like we don't have options -Smoot, Kareem Moore, or Reed Doughty could all fill the position adequately.

- Other than Landry I think the secondary played quite well.

- Zero sacks allowed. Nice job by the offensive line, obviously, but there were also a lot of great blitz pickups by the running backs.

- Devin Thomas is now clearly our #1 wide receiver. The Redskins' late season turnaround (in performance, not wins) is largely about him and Fred Davis.

- The mistakes (missed field goal, Sellers' fumble, Campbell's pick) weren't quite enough to kill us. The bad luck (a shanked punt hitting Kevin Barnes, Kareem Moore getting stripped on the interception return) wasn't quite enough to kill us. But the mistakes and bad luck combined were just enough to let this game slip away.

- The defensive line was outstanding - Brees was under threat in the pocket constantly and the Saints' running game was shut down entirely.

- I'm trying to be angry at Shaun Suisham but all I can manage right now is to feel sorry for him.

- Here's the Win Probability Graph from Advanced NFL Stats. Another quantified gut-punch. The Redskins topped out at a 99% chance of victory.

- I can't take too much more of this.

UPDATE: It turns out Real Redskins was basically real-time blogging the game, so go here if you want a very thorough overview of what transpired.


  1. Today's loss hurt. It really stings. Worst pain of the season for me. We played really well. Against a top team. And almost pulled it out. A few mistakes -- the missed chip-shot FG, the fumble/turn-over after the whistle -- make this hard to swallow.

    A few quick responses:

    I'm pretty sure, on the two-minute warning play, the clock was off by a second or two. I thought the prior play ended at 2:42.

    I can't believe how good the line looked today, both run-blocking and pass-blocking. This is a tough defense to do that against. Funny how injuries and tougher opponents have us looking better.

    Devin Thomas looked amazing. His progress really kicked off a few weeks ago, I think. I remember one of the announcers saying that he was getting good at knowing when to break off routes when JC was in trouble -- and then putting himself into the right spot to help. I think JC really trusts him now and that's creating chemistry. But Thomas is such a talent. And so is Fred Davis! I can't wait until Malcolm Kelly finally gets is going, because I think he is just as good.

    Oh man, I'd forgotten about the punt that hit Barnes. Ugh. Yeah, we made some mistakes out there. Hard to beat the Saints like that. And we almost did. And that's what makes it hurt so much.

    Imagine if we'd won all our early games against the easier opponents. We'd be a different story right now. We'd have come into this game with more confidence and winning momentum and likely would have won. Instead, we're another notch up on the draft pick ladder. :\

  2. Bobisimo - you're totally right about the clock status before the two-minute warning. Not sure where I got that in my head, but when I never saw such a massive screw up even mentioned on any post-game show, I figured I should go back and check.

    I'm with you on Thomas as well - he first developed as Campbell's safety valve, but he now has progressed to the point that he is the focal point of the passing game even when plays develop as intended.

    As for the punt hitting Barnes, remember we lost the Carolina game by a bad punt coming down short and hitting one of our players. And it was shortly after that that Moore made the pick and then was stripped for the Saints TD - so the Saints made two massive mistakes and were rewarded with 7 points.

  3. Funny that you mention the Carolina punt. The absolute first thought that went into my head on that sequence was of that older play where Westbrook was pushed. But you're right: two critical mistakes on one drive leads to 7 points in their favor. Wow. Either of those plays could have led to Redskin points. Even a FG would have made that a 10-point swing. :\

    As for the 2-minute warning play, I'm surprised they never showed the clock or even mentioned it; usually the announcers will say "the clocks are off so the team will have to run a play." There are so many instances, especially when time is dwindling, where a guy runs out of bounds or calls time out and the clock keeps ticking. How does that happen -- and yet here, with the play finishing around 2:41 or 2:42, they manage to instantly get the clock re-set for the next play and force us to run another? I can't say the refs are out to get us on that one, they did their job properly, but usually they don't. So that sucks. :)

    I love watching JC throwing to Davis and Thomas. It's a different team entirely. All the 20-yard-plus passes today really stretched the defense and added excitement. I suppose we could have run the ball a bit more than we did today, but I can't complain since we moved the ball well, on long drives, and got points. Whatever works.

    I'm guardedly optimistic for next week. I want to believe in JC, haha *shakes head*. I want to believe that it wasn't just a DB-depleted defense, or our general mastery of the Saints, or our familiarity with Williams, that made Campbell look so good. Hopefully he'll play as well in our last four as he did today. At least then management'll have something to think about regarding his future with the team.