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Winning in the NFL is difficult. Recap: Redskins @ Bucs

I wonder just how differently this game would have ended had the opening play of the game gone our way. The Redskins coaches, perhaps in a Vulcan mind-meld with yours truly, sensed that I wanted to see Jason Campbell air one out early on in the game. I turned to my girlfriend and said "Wouldn't it be nice if he threw deep?" Brandon Lloyd could not drag in the very catch-able pass from our presumed saviour JC -- whose initials (we hope) are not the result of coincidence. Sure.

The reception would have meant at least 3 points, though since we're speculating in fantasy land anyways let's just say it would've been a definite touchdown. Up 7-0 with momentum and a dejected, beaten Ronde Barber made the fool from the get go? We'd have won.

But it was an incomplete pass. And for the rest of the game it was much of the same from this pedestrian offense, despite a change at quarterback. 20 rushes for 64 yards or 3.2 YPR. No bueno.

But our biggest problem was defense. Typically if you hold your opponent to 20 points that could be considered a decent performance. That is unless you're playing against Tampa Bay. We allowed them 7 points more than they are used to getting per game and over 100 yards more than they are averaging on the year. Most of that is due to them doubling their per game rushing yards. Our run defense looked completely outmatched as Mike Alstott, Michael Pittman, and Cadillac Williams ran over our players with ease. Did anyone else notice Mike Alstott playing 2-3 times bigger than anyone else on this defense?

The Good News things that didn't make me cry:

It sure was swell seeing Jason Campbell play mistake-free, semi-productive quarterback. Familiar, too, as Jason Campbell's 196 yards on the day was just 2 shy of Brunell's YPG average. Then again, he did it without Santana Moss and Clinton Portis -- Brunell has had one or the either throughout the season.

All in all a very encouraging performance by JC. I was expecting a few interceptions where there were none. I saw a few passes I thought could've been thrown better, but then again I also caught a glimpse of his impressive pocket presence. On 2nd and 10 in the 1st quarter he scrambled past a blitz and, with a Tampa Bay defender practically hanging on to him, made a great pass to James Thrash for 15 yards. That's a sack if Mark Brunell is in.

I saw enough from Jason Campbell to get excited about him as a player, and about the future of this team. That's exactly what I wanted to see. Unfortunately I also saw a lot of

The Bad News things that made me cry (in easy to digest list form!):

  1. Bad teams beat bad teams when they win the turnover battle. Despite winning the turnover battle, we lost to Tampa Bay. By all indications, 3-7 Tampa Bay is a very, very bad team.
  2. This defense is pretending to play football. There wasn't the slightest sense of urgency in tackling the opposing running backs, as our guys were seemingly happy getting piggy-back rides from Alstott, Pittman, and Williams.

Tackling practice.
  1. We made Bruce Gradkowski look good.
  2. Even when we make great defensive plays we screw up. On 3rd and 2 with the Redskins up 10-3, a pass intended for Galloway is well defended and bounces into the arms of Anthony Becht. Up until that point, all Becht had done was rack up 15 yards in penalties. For the record, according to me this idiot, Becht would not be a "serious threat".
  3. Consistent with their play all year, the defense gave up a huge passing play to Galloway on a 34 yard touchdown pass. Cadilliac Williams and Michael Pittman also both had 20 yard receptions.
  4. 0 sacks, while Tampa Bay had 2. When I woke up on Sunday morning, the Redskins had the 2nd worst pass rush in the league. Now we're the worst.
  5. We are 3-7. I think we've officially run out of must win games. Oh how I'll miss Redskins player assuring us that they need to win because this week is a must win. In order for the games to be meaningful, at some point you actually must win a must win game.
  6. We are now the third worst team in the NFC.

Ultimately Jason Campbell, by 1st NFL start standards, had an uncharacteristically good performance. As did Nick Novak, as he didn't miss any field goals. That's good news from the Redskins youth stables. But the 30th ranked defense in the league played characteristically all game, making a W impossible. Some of us, like me, were gullible enough to think that a change at QB would change everything. He doesn't play defense and the offense has its own problems, least of which being the absence of Clinton Portis for the remainder of this year.

Yet in spite of all that, there isn't anything in our record that could discourage me from getting pumped about every remaining Redskins game for the rest of the year. JC looked good in his first start, and for that I will remain naively hopeful for the future of this franchise.