Unlike my colleague Kevin, I am not ready to throw in the towel on this season. What kind of fan does that anyway after one week? (Answer at the bottom of the post.)
Did I think the Redskins could beat the Giants going into that game Sunday? Of course I did.
Do I think the Giants are the better team after Week One? I am compelled to believe that today after the Redskins' loss.
Ah, but there is this--it is Week One. The Giants are the better team right now. Right now. The difference between these two teams might be more than the 6 points the score indicated, but the Giants are considered the class of the NFC. If the Redskins can improve in areas that they clearly need to work on as the season progresses, it is possible that we aren't as bad off as we feel today. I am not just trying to blow smoke up your 5-hole either. It is a long season and a lot can happen. Or not happen. Like these two plays which, to me, rank right up there as the two plays that you would think we could eliminate from future contests, given the Redskin players involved.
1) 2nd and 8, ball on NYG 42, 8:30 left in 1st half - Jason Campbell throws up the right sideline for Santana Moss and is intercepted by Webster. First of all, the obvious: did anyone else think JC might have been able to get the 1st down by running? I did. Tough to say for sure of course. Secondly, he wasn't just over the line of scrimmage...he was WAY over, right? Like at least a yard and a half, maybe 2 yards? The penalty would have been five yards and loss of down, meaning 3rd and 13 from the NYG 47. Instead, Santana Moss gets beaten to the ball by Webster, who makes an incredible play to come down with the INT. Did anyone else think Santana Moss had something to do with that pickle? I thought he could have done more at the end of the play, either by doing a better job of coming back for the ball or by keeping Webster from coming down with the ball. To be fair, Webster came from behind him to make the play, but it just seemed like Moss slowed up at the last second and that was enough for Webster to be able to get in and make the play.
2) 1st and 10, ball on WASH 48, 2:29 left in the first half - Osi Umenyiora beats Chris Samuels for the sack, forced fumble, and fumble recovery that leads to Osi running in the touchdown that put the Giants up 17-0.
Ugh. Despite the fact that we were down 10-0 when this drive began, you got the feeling that if the Skins could score before the half, momentum could start shifting. The previous play was a 3rd and 8 that we converted when JC found Randle El for 9 yards in the middle of the field. I know I was watching and thinking that JC was looking a bit more comfortable on this drive. i would love to hear some of your opinions of this play by Samuels. He got beaten badly. I know it was just one play, but it was a HUGE play. The sack was bad enough. The fumble was that much worse. The fact that Osi then took it the other way for 6 was simply nad-pummeling.
These two first half plays killed us in my opinion. We outscored the Giants 10-6 in the second half. In the first half, the outcomes of either one of these drives (both at or near midfield) could have netted the Redskins points that very well could have re-shaped the final result. There were more pivotal plays in the game than these two, but to me, these are the two stuck in my brain.
Ten Yard Fight-10 Chances to Make One Good Point
Unlike the preseason, I won't be doing wrap-ups of every game. You can get that by watching any one of the seven billion re-runs of Sportscenter between now and Friday. Besides, most of you watched the games anyway, unlike the preseason, when I was one of the few retards who decided to watch all of the games. In this week's ten observations, I will man up where I was wrong going into the season opener, and then I will tout the preseason analysis I made that was right on the money. First, where I was wrong (after the jump):
1) Okay, so Jermichael Finley wasn't the world-beater in week one that I promised you. He had one catch for 6 yards. In a game where every yard came at a premium, I would have thought he would be targeted more than once. I was wrong.
2) Over at SBNation.com, the brand new sports website that was launched last Thursday, a certain writer for their Fantasy Football front page compared the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense to "a turd wrapped in a dirty tissue stuffed inside a bag of vomit." Well, I may have been a bit harsh. Maybe leave out the dirty tissue. You can see my Weekly Mailbag column every Wednesday and my Start 'Em/Sit 'Em column every Friday, written under the pen name of 'Ken Meringolo'.
3) Speaking of my awful fantasy advice, I implored fantasy owners to consider starting Malcolm Kelly as a gamble pick in a game where the Giants would eliminate Santana Moss. Holy crap! I have to do better. Though to be fair, I got the part about Santana Moss being eliminated right.
5) All of my Friday Night "Mights" proved to be off, I guess. For all of you out there raining on me for bad "predictions", keep in mind that first and foremost, these "mights" pre-suppose a victory. And they will be a mainstay for the season. (I hope I won't go 0-5 very often!)
Now, for the last five, I get to say,
"I've been telling you all preseason that..."
7) ...The Packers' defense is for real. Jay Cutler is no slouch. Matt Forte is no slouch. The Packers got after them on Sunday night. Those linebackers were everywhere, and the secondary made Jay Cutler pay for overestimating his ability to put the ball in a tight spot with double-, triple-, and even quadruple-coverage.
8a) ...Kurt Warner has been lacking something this summer. He certainly has not found his rhythm in the offense yet for the 2009 season. He did not look horrible but completing less than 60% of his passes for less than 300 yards and two interceptions that left him with a 67.2 passer rating is not what we have come to expect from Warner. I bet a lot of folks in knockout/suicide pools were out after one week yesterday, thanks to the Cards dropping that game to the 49ers.
8b) ...Jake Delhomme looks like he is done. He didn't look good in August, and he looked even worse in the opener. Reminded me A LOT of the guy who had a horrendous playoff performance last year.
9) ...Drew Brees is in a universe all to himself. OK, so this was no great prediction. Of course, the Lions are the Lions, but Brees looks like he is on a Hall of Fame case-making kind of year. That team needs to find the playoffs for him to really get on the road to Canton, but his numbers are going to be off the charts again this year.
10) ...Mike Singletary was going to get the most out of this team. Shaun Hill had about 200 yards passing. Frank Gore had 30 yards rushing. The defense held when it had to and Shaun Hill came through in the 4th quarter. Singletary was working his sideline in the 4th quarter--did you see that? Either the Cardinals are a lot worse than we thought they were, or the 49ers have a real shot at making noise in the NFC West this year. Remember last year when there were THREE 2-7 teams in the NFC West? That won't happen again this year.
MNF) Can someone please tell me how Leodis McKelvin thought it was a good idea to bring out the kickoff with 2 minutes remaining in their game against the Patriots? With three minutes to go in the 1st quarter, the Oakland Raiders look like they are punching Norv Turner in the balls. So great.
Give Me the Numbers, STAT!
In this space each week we will look at stats for both the Redskins as well as team and player stat rankings around the league. By tracking these throughout the season, we hope to offer explanations and analysis as to how our team is doing as well as other trends in the league.
Last season, the Giants averaged 5.0 yards per carry. Brandon Jacobs averaged 5.0 yards per carry. Yesterday, the Giants averaged 3.3 yards per carry, and Jacobs 2.9 yards per carry. Consider also that the Giants led the league in rushing yards per carry (all stats from nfl.com.) A new season, a new look, a new slate for all teams--I get it. To properly measure that performance, we will need to see how the Giants run on their next couple of opponents. I am pretty sure they will fare better against other opponents.
Of the 28 teams that had completed their games by Monday morning, the Redskins ranked 19th in total defense (19th against the run and 18th against the pass.) One sack and one interception also put is in the bottom quarter of defenses. So let's set some expectations. We have some opponents coming up that are not in the same class as the New York Giants. Based on this, I am looking for our defense to put itself squarely on the map. If we don't see our ranking rise in the next two weeks, we will know that something is dreadfully wrong.
Finally, can we stop already with the negativity after one game? It would have been great to win on the road in the first week against the Giants. But nobody had that game circled as a certain win. As far as losses go, it was ugly at points, yet there were plenty of moments to cheer about, as noted by most of you yesterday in the recap comments section. What will define this team in the short-term is its ability to win the games it "should" win. Between now and when we hit the murderous portion of our schedule--if this team fancies itself a playoff team--they will have to do what every playoff team does: improve each week in team defense, overall offensive efficiency, and establish an identity that instills some fear in your opponents. It makes no sense to jump off the deep end calling for Zorn's ouster, or calling for Campbell to be benched. Come on. What kind of fan does that make you if you tuck tail and run after one loss? Answer: an Eagles fan.
You're better than that Redskins Nation.