Well that ought to calm people down after the Buffalo game. But keep in mind that the lopsided score didn't occur until after both teams had pulled their starters from the game. And aside from Trent Williams' struggles against Terrel Suggs, many of the protection problems came from the fact that the Redskins hadn't game planned for Baltimore's various blitzes, so my level of concern is only moderate.
In the near future I will be putting up more detailed posts on Anthony Armstrong and Albert Haynesworth, but for now here are some brief and non-comprehensive notes on the game:
- Mike Sellers completely whiffed on a first quarter lead block against Terrel Suggs, causing Larry Johnson to get stuffed for a big loss.
- Jammal Brown only played the first series. Apparently that was the plan going in, but nonetheless I can’t stop worrying about his durability. The odds of Stephon Heyer getting extensive playing time seem pretty high.
- Joey Galloway got the start but it was pretty much a formality. Nearest I could tell McNabb never even looked at him. Anthony Armstrong continued to take over the flanker position (sliding Santana to the slot) when the first team went three wide, and Devin Thomas took over Galloway’s split end position for some first team snaps as well. In an upcoming post I will go into more detail about Anthony Armstrong and the wide receiver situation in general, but briefly Moss, Thomas, and Armstrong are looking like they will be the top three wide receivers this year.
- Trent Williams had his hands full with Terrel Suggs. Last week we saw that Trent has the athleticism to cope with the pure speed rush from Aaron Maybin. Williams knew he was stronger than Maybin, so he could stay light on his toes and keep directing him outside. Suggs, however, represented a realistic threat of a bull rush. Williams was forced to set his feet more to withstand Suggs’ strength, and then he was unable to recover when Suggs gave him the speed instead. That’s what a well-rounded pass rusher does.
- I am not that excited by Larry Johnson, but don’t think he’s as bad as he looked last night. The Ravens were controlling the line and he really didn’t have a lot of holes in front of him.
- This game really illustrated the kind of upgrade we have in Donovan McNabb. The offensive performance would have been far uglier with Jason Campbell under center. Although the Ravens blitzes frequently broke down the Redskins (non-game planned) protections, McNabb always saw it coming and managed to adjust in time to keep plays alive, including several key third and longs. With Campbell there would have been at least one strip sack and one safety, but McNabb managed to stave off disaster each time. But we also saw the frustrating side. His accuracy, of course, was off all day. Now granted he was missing passes to receivers that Campbel never would have found to begin with, but still we may as well get used to seeing open receivers sometimes missed by five yards. The upgrade from slightly below average to “pretty good” at quarterback represents a big jump. But it’s a bigger jump still to elite. After the long first quarter pass to Anthony Armstrong, which Armstrong had to adjust to since it was underthrown, a Tweeter called RedskinsRT summed it up nicely: “would've been a TD from Brees.. would've been overthrown by JC.”
- Kareem Moore’s knee injury is unfortunate but survivable. Reed Doughty has the best coverage skills of the remaining safeties and I’m not the least bit worried about having him in there.
- The Redskins continue to use only two down linemen in their base nickel formation.
- As one of those two linemen, Vonnie Holliday fought through multiple blockers and got his hands in Flacco’s face to force a short dumpoff on a key third down stop.
- The whole Albert Haynesworth mess will be addressed in a separate post.
- Graham Gano’s kickoffs: 3 yard line, and out the back of the end zone.
- Ravens punter Sam Koch is simply outstanding. His repeated successes in pinning us near our own goal line were a major contribution to the game seeming so lopsided.
- Backup fullback (and former linebacker) Darrel Young had an outstanding block to spring Brandon Banks on a lengthy punt return (unfortunately it was called back by a penalty). Keeping a second fullback is something of a luxury, so even if Young continues to block well it would be hard for him to make the active roster. But solid special teams play is the best way to make the coaches find room for you.