The season is officially halfway done, and the Skins are a surprising 6-2. Some games (the Rams) might have gotten away,
but in some others, the team was able to hold on. So, lets take a look at how the team has done thus far:
OVERALL: 6-2 is good. Wins at Dallas, at Philly and at home for New Orleans are good. Losing at the Giants is long forgotten, and the Rams game appears to be an aberration. Like I've said before, if you told me 6-2 before the season started, I would have taken it without second thought. This stretch of schedule featured some of the easier games the team had all season, but like the old saying goes: you can only beat those teams on your schedule.
COACHING: Jim Zorn has been better than expected. He doesn't look like a rookie head coach based on his decisions and game management. He also looks like a veteran OC with the way he's called some of the games. Mistakes, yes. But overall much better than I expected.
On the defensive side, Blache is good at 2 things: giving quotes and calling a game. I really like the way he has worked with his personnel and really developed a pretty good defense. They've had some key injuries (Taylor, Doughty, Springs) but they've worked around it. They are 6th in yards allowed at 278.1 and 8th in scoring defense after giving up 18.1 points a game. I'd like to see more turnovers, but I always take what I can get. In the NFL, the magic number is 20: you score more than that consistently, you should win because you should be able to hold teams to that. This defense does.
OFFENSE: Two words: Clinton Portis. He's been on fire all year, but especially after getting called out. Thank you, Brian Mitchell. He leads the league in rushing with 944 yards. But since he's had an extra game (no bye week yet), it might be misleading to say that the next highest rusher is Adrian Peterson with 684, or 260 yards less. So, I'll go to the 118.0 yards per game for Portis compared to Peterson's 97.7. Umm... yeah. He's been that good. Big props to the offensive line.
Almost under the radar is JC's season. He has finally lived up to the 1st round QB hype and is one of only 6 QBs with a 100+ rating and his 100.5 is good for 5th. That puts him ahead of the likes of Manning (both), Favre, and Roethlisberger. Not too shabby. Of starting QBs, he's the only one to have 0 INTs and has only 1 fumble lost all year. Talk about protecting the football. Again, big ups to the offensive line for allowing JC time and giving up only 16 sacks.
Overall, the offense is towards the bottom of the league in points (20.6) but they are towards the top in TOP (6th at 32:30), a stat I personally don't put much stock in but some of you might. A stat I like better is 1st downs (7th at 20.3 per game). Mike Leach taught me that. Well, not personally. #rd down percentage is middle of the pack at 38.8%, but the 4th down percentage is tied for 2nd best at 80% or 4 for 5. Good stuff.
Grade: B (Portis gets an A++.)
DEFENSE: This phase has carried the team thus far this year. London Fletcher is the man. Rookie Chris Horton has proven himself in place of Doughty, but the man I want to spotlight is Carlos Rogers. He, along with fellow 2005 1st rounder Jason Campbell have both come of age this year. Rogers, coming off a knee injury that ended his 2007 season, has looked like the corner the team thought they were getting when they drafted him 9th overall.
The only problem with the defense is the pass rush (10.0 is 8 games). A lot of that can be chalked up to Jason Taylor's injury, but still... they need to get to the opponent's QB. The 5 Forced fumbles and 5 INTs (3 from Horton) are good, but pressure from the front 4 makes everyone else better. The 35.6 3rd down percentage is another good thing.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Yikes. Anytime you replace a punter mid-season, there have been some problems. Rookie Durant Brooks was just flat out bad. He had some good punts, but he was inconsistent... which is pretty much the one thing an NFL punter cannot be. To his credit, P Ryan Plackemeier has been pretty okay since joining the team, but the team is still dead last in punting with a 39.1 yard average. Double yikes.
The incumbent K Suisham has been pretty okay as well. Only 5 touchbacks, but the coverage teams have been there to make plays. He's also 16 for 21 on FGs, but at least one of those has been blamed on Brooks' holding. Not great but okay.
As usual, KR Rock Cartwright is near the top of the league with a 25.5 yard average and a long of 50. That's consistency. The team has a 25.1 yard average overall. The PR is middle of the pack at 9.4 yards per return, but that's largely due to Moss's return for a TD last game. ARE has been less than spectacular. They have the second most chances in the league (26, 1 behind Tampa Bay) to this point and they need to capitalize on them, which will help the offense score more points. The defense has done it's job, the returners need to make the most of it.
That's all I got for now. SP sent me this link to another report card, which I have not looked at for this post. So, tell me if I'm in line with things or if I'm just crazy. As always, leave it in the comments section.
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Week 9 Blogger Deathsport. Because I can:
BAL @ CLE (-1.5)
TB (-8.5) @ KC
NYJ @ BUF (-5.5)
ARZ (-3) @ STL
DET @ CHI (-13)
HOU @ MIN (-4.5)
GB @ TEN (-5.5)
JAX (-8) @ CIN
MIA @ DEN (-3)
DAL @ NYG (-9)
PHI (-7) @ SEA
ATL (-3) @ OAK
NE @ IND (-5.5)
PIT @ WAS (-1.5) 24-21.
I'm out. Hit it up.