Special thanks to reader TexSkins and Big Blue Shoe from Stampede Blue for blogging the game. I was indisposed and am incredibly sorry, both for my absence and for the way the Skins played.
Let me sum up all the above: Things look grim for the Redskins as we are now 2-5 and were completely outclassed against the Colts.
We're going to start with the good because it won't take long: ARE's 87 yard punt return for a touchdown was pleasent. The problem was that the Colts coaching staff huddled on the sidelines and decided that the best way to prevent punt returns was never to punt. The following 6 Colts drives went like this:
Adam Vinatieri field goal.
Manning to Harrison, touchdown.
Manning to Wayne, touchdown.
Manning to Harrison, touchdown.
Adam Vinatieri field goal.
Manning the Merciful kneels the ball.
Speaking of not punting, perhaps it was for the best. The Redskins became a nation-wide football punchline after Randle-El scored that great punt return. First he managed to upset the fun police by falling to the ground. It's unclear whether he would have been flagged had he just dry humped the field goal as opposed to then taking a quick nap on the field afterwards. This was followed by another penalty -- Sean Taylor jumped the snap on the ensuing kickoff. The refs (those devils!) dared to ask Derrick Frost to refrain from punting the ball, something he hasn't really done very well all season. They weren't ready, but Derrick Frost waits for no man or men!
Rip that helmet off, you idiot. Here's what Gibbs had to say:
The finale was Nick Novak kicking off from the 5 yard line, something Joe Gibbs and special teams coach Danny Smith admitted never having seen before. What is going on?
Speaking of Nick Novak, he really managed to endear himself to Redskins fans with two missed field goals. We used to complain about Hall's inability to kick the long ball, but at least he drilled the short ones. Ok Nick, you get a pass on that 49 yarder... but was the 35 yarder really out of your range? Thus continues a Redskins tradition of horrible personnel decisions. Maybe we can bring John Hall back?
Not that it would've mattered, because the Redskins didn't lose by 3 or 6 points, they lost by 14 thanks mostly to a James Thrash gimme-touchdown at the end of the game. As with other performances, I don't think the score adequately expresses how close this game really was(n't). 50-7 tells the story.
This was a 6 win team when we had the 2nd best defense in the league. It's becoming painfully obvious that, with this defense, we might not match the failure of 2004.
Where do I start on this defense? Watching Khary Campbell try and cover anyone is like watching a manatee chase a speed boat. Mike Rumph showed us why he was deactivated a few weeks ago by getting absolutely destroyed by Harrison. By itself this isn't the least bit suprising; if Harrison lines up against Rumph the result is predictable. What shocked me is that Rumph would go to all the trouble of taking the inside (as Aikman pointed out) just to relinquish it when Harrison fakes outside. It wasn't even clear that Rumph would've been in a position to protect the outside route; Harrison's move on the line literaly froze Rumph.
Joseph Addai put on a clinic with nearly 8 yards a carry. The Redskins defenders appeared to be playing two hand touch against Addai, opting for arm tackles as opposed to throwing themselves into him.
Pass game wasn't much better. The only thing capable of slowing down a Manning drive was injury or his voluntary kneeling of the ball. Five Indy Colts had receptions of 20 yards or more, thus perpetuating our nearly unmatched inability to stop big plays in the secondary.
Attention: Adam Archuleta is the highest paid safety in NFL history. He is making about 600,000 a year right now, a figure that jumps to 1 million in 2008. For reasons that are beyond me that figure quadruples to 4 million the following year. Keep it going to 6 mil by 2011. This will go down in NFL history as one of the worst signing ever unless he goes to 5 consecutive Pro Bowls. Ain't happenin'.
Dumb penalties plagued us throughout the game. 10 Penalties for 91 yards didn't stop Indy from over 450 total yards of offense against us. There were the Punt Return penalties; unsportsmanlike on Randle-El, offsides on Taylor, Unsportsmanlike on Hall. Yippee. Moss added an unnecessary roughness. Rabach was good for two 10 yard holding penalties. Jansen had a false start and Samuels was lucky to get away with just one 10 yard holding penalty. Dwight Freeney made him look inadequate.
But the offense was ok right? Well, not exactly. Ignoring the punt return and the mickey mouse late game touchdown to Thrash, this offense scored 7 points. And really those 7 points were enabled largely by a Hands-To-The-Face Roughing-The-Passer penalty that turned an imminent 3rd and 29 into a 1st and 10. Considering the longest play the Redskins completed successfully was 34 yard run by Portis, I don't think we convert that 3rd down without the penalty.
Brunell continued his checkdown madness as well. Apparently Aikman and broadcasting company hadn't watched the Skins play, as they were suprised by the lunacy of throwing a 3 yard pass to the RB on a 3rd and 8. Or, on the very next drive, throwing a 2 yard pass on 3rd and 7. Or, on the next drive, throwing a 5 yard pass on 3rd and 10. I wasn't suprised.
Antwaan was the only player to have a reception over 20 yards (it was a 30 yard reception).
I cannot really hang this one on Brunell, since you can't win every game where the opponent scores 36 points. But I can blame this team for having an anemic, short yardage offense knowing full well that we have a horrid defense. You have to adapt to the personnel on the field, and the defensive packages demand a high flying, deep throwing offensive attack. One reception over 30 yards won't cut it. Dink and dumps will not win us games.
Hence why I thought, at 2-5, it's about time for this team to change directions. Mark Brunell you've been great, but you can't win with this defense (few could). We've expended considerable resources in draft picks to get Jason Campbell -- let's go ahead and get him prepared for next season. Things can't possibly get any worse, and they might get better.
Yet, per Jason La Canfora (emphasis added):
"It's hard to figure out," said Gibbs, who praised starting quarterback Mark Brunell and said he is not considering giving Jason Campbell his first start. "It certainly is to me. But that's part of football. . . . There's no given to it."
In the shower this morning I started thinking about when a season is officially derailed to the point where reasonable fans start looking towards the following year. We aren't there yet, I hope, but we're approaching it at light speed. Thanks to a bye, perhaps we have an additional week to hope for great things. A stay of execution, perhaps.
Despite that hope, I found myself thinking of draft picks. Maybe if the Redskins lose every game we can pick up...
Blam. It hit me. We swapped first rounders with the 5-1 Denver Broncos so that we could acquire non-factor TJ Duckett in the offseason. How depressing; even for really bad teams hope springs eternal as the league will reward you with great draft picks.
Yet this front office has so screwed the pooch with their "win now" attitude that they've resigned fans everywhere to a "win never". We'll be getting the draft pick of the Denver Broncos, who are on pace to finish with as few losses as we have wins.
And even if we didn't have to worry about getting Denver's scrub 1st round pick, we still have the overpaid 22 million Archuleta, along with the 10 million dollar signing of Carter, and a 17 million dollar Brandon Lloyd (on pace for a big 374 receiving yard this season). And although I'm still holding on to this season with every last ounce of naive hope I have, where the hell do Redskins' fans go when the wheels finally come off?
We don't even have a future to look forward to. Dan Snyder, you cruel monster.
For now we do look forward to next week, against the hated rival Dallas Cowboys. If 2-4 was a must-win situation, then 2-5 is approaching the "too little too late" category, though there is still hope. And besides, a win against the Cowboys will always be a moral victory, right readers? I'm hanging by a thread here.