Tuesday, December 1, 2009

So we play New Orleans next week. Are they any good?

"This One Could Be a Bit of a Challenge," opines Ben at Curly R, thus earning a nomination for the first annual SM "Understated Blog Headline of the Year Award." I admire his reserve, considering that watching the Saints dominate the Patriots last night caused me to urinate in my pants (just a little bit). Seriously, though, he points out the historical difficulty of any team going 12-0 and holds out just a glimmer of hope that the Redskins might block them from this goal.

I've seen arguments that we need to run the ball effectively to keep the ball out of Brees' hands, but I don't buy this given that he threw those 5 touchdowns last night in only 23 pass attempts. Playing ball control against them would seem like a classic case of bringing a knife to a gun fight.

My inclination is to swing for the fences and try to score early and often. Go deep, don't worry about time of possession or avoiding 3 and outs. Odds are, the Saints pass rush and Campbell's inconsistency will prevent this from working. But given that no one expects us to be competitive in this game, why not try the high-risk, high-reward approach? The best case scenario, though highly unlikely, is one of the greatest upsets of the year. The worst case scenario is we get slaughtered, which the whole country is expecting anyway. So what have we got to lose?

We will need:

1) At least a few explosive plays from the offense. If these occur, I have a feeling they will involve Devin Thomas.

2) At least adequate protection to set up said explosive plays. Since we will never win this game with dumpoffs anyway, we may as well leave the RBs in to block and give Campbell a little more time to let deep routes develop.

3) Generate pressure with the front four. If we blitz Brees he will eat us alive. Haynesworth should be back, meaning Carter and Orakpo should get some shots at Brees. Go for the strip.

4) Those passes that get deflected and fall right into a Redskin defender's hands? They need to be caught this week. If we pull off an upset it will be because we capitalized on opportunities.

5) None of those blown assignments that leave an opposing WR open by 20 yards. We've seen too many of these lately, and it is especially frustrating since the secondary has shown that if they remember the play call they can cover just about anybody. The Saints are going to score points, but we can't be giving away anything for free.

6) On a related note, maybe the secondary should generally play conservative and try to force the Saints to score on long drives rather than quick strikes, to keep things close enough that a couple of big plays from the offense can keep us in it. Let the pass rushers create the turnovers. And LaRon - if a guy catches a ball over the middle just wrap him up, rather than going for the Sean Taylor-type hits and allowing 20 more YAC.

7) I'm not sure about this one - but if there are any more fake punts or field goals in the playbook, this may be the time to break them out. I only hesitate because we may want to save them for the future Giants and Dallas games, which we have a better chance of winning and are against teams we hate more.

And yes, I recognize that many of the above points are counting on the Redskins reversing tendencies they have demonstrated throughout the season. These are not predictions, they are hopes.

So I want your thoughts on this - what's our best chance to beat New Orleans? And how utterly misguided are my above thoughts?
UPDATE - Here's FO's updated DVOA rankings for perspective:
Redskins defense #14 vs. NO offense #1
Redskins offense #24 vs. NO defense #5


  1. yeaaahhh... not holding my breath.

  2. You should try it. The oxygen deprivation to the brain does wonders for your sense of optimism.