October 10, 2008

Friday Quick Thoughts

Random thoughts/observations on a sunny 4-1 Friday:

The Redskins are 8-2 in their last ten games. The two losses? A playoff game in Seattle (7-1 at home on the season) on the heels of an emotional four-game sprint to the playoffs in 2007 … and a road loss to the defending Super Bowl Champion NY Giants in rookie head coach Jim Zorn’s debut in 2008.

Not too shabby.


Remember the Brian Mitchell/Clinton Portis brouhaha a couple weeks ago? The one that stemmed from BMitch’s critical comments about a Washington Post quote from Portis?

In an interview Wednesday, Portis, Washington's top back since the 2004 season, said he wished he "could go to a team for one week with the best offensive line, or the team with the best scheme, and switch places with their back and see how others would do in this system."

Guess what. Whether or not you think CP went about saying what he wanted to say artfully … he was on the money.

Here’s his statistical progression in 2008:

23 carries, 84 yards, 3.7 avg. (@ NYG)

21 carries, 96 yards, 4.6 avg. (NO)

21 carries, 68 yards, 3.2 avg. (AZ)

21 carries, 121 yards, 5.8 avg (@ DAL)

29 carries, 145 yards, 5.0 avg. (@ PHI)

Says here that neither Portis nor the offensive line are playing any harder--or any "better" beyond a couple more games worth of conditioning/familiarity under their belts--over the past two weeks than they did in the first three. Way I see it—because I’m a QB Theory guy—the exploding running game has been a direct result of Jason Campbell’s emergence as a legitimate big time passing threat.

Don’t take my word for it. Take its primary beneficiary’s:

Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson watched the Dallas film. He saw Campbell repeatedly converting third downs and avoiding the rush to hit Santana Moss downfield. It's why Johnson built his gameplan around taking Santana out of the game. He did a damn good job of it, too, holding Moss without a catch.

Unfortunately for the Eagles, one side-effect of his decision—a fatal one—was allowing the Redskins running game to face an honest defense again. “Honest” meaning one unable to overwhelm the line of scrimmage with bodies to take away the run, which you can do (and teams have against Washington for years) when you don’t believe the QB can beat you with his arm.

It would appear those days are over. Turns out Johnson's choice was getting slowly, methodically trampled versus risking the lightning air strike. (Sorry, this is fun.)

So now St. Louis has a decision to make as well—commit extra bodies to the line of scrimmage to stop the run, and take your chances with Campbell, Moss, Randle El, Cooley and company* … or go with seven in the box to contain the passing game, and hope you can do what Philly could not and contain Portis … or, mix and match and hope to hell you outguess Jim Zorn.

Perhaps Mr. Haslett knows his Shakespeare ...

Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.


Two story lines that seem to have developed independently of each other that I think are, in fact, directly related.

1) The Eagles held Santana Moss without a catch

2) Jason Campbell once again did not throw any interceptions

Was the fact Moss ended up with zero catches more a function of effective targeted defense by the Eagles … or a result of Jason Campbell’s continued outstanding care with the football, being unwilling to “force” the ball to a targeted Moss the way Dallas QB Tony Romo kept forcing it to Terrell Owens a week earlier?

The answer, of course, is ... yes.


* Sneaky suspicion ... look for rookie WR Devin Thomas to announce himself to the NFL Sunday. Each week he has appeared more and more comfortable with the speed of the game and in his assignments (if not yet cognizant of the well known NFL fact that only Michael Irvin was statutorily authorized to push off), and Jason Campbell has appeared more and more willing to look the rookie’s way. And Zorn has proven to be pretty cagey—he knows the Rams are spending this week scheming to contain Campbell, Moss, ARE, Portis and Cooley.

Says here Thomas gets at last a half dozen targets against the Rams, including at least one deep shot. And that by this time next week, we will be hearing about his emergence from the talking heads.

We knew him when.

1 comment:

Angel17 said...

He did a damn good job of it, too, holding Moss without a catch.
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