In which we lay effusive praise on the defense while pretty much ignoring the offense. Mostly.
The thing that will be remembered about the Bears game on Sunday is what a mess it was, nine total turnovers, eight fumbles, six interceptions with two returned for touchdowns. Of the five complete drives in the third quarter, four of them ended in turnovers! Jay Cutler was batted around like a rag doll and Donovan McNabb missed his second pick six of the afternoon on a game management error that if it had occurred without the nullified Chicago defensive score we would be talking about it as egregious.
So in the isn't that hilarious aftermath of the win, let us set aside the performance of the offense for a moment and take a look at the defensive side of the ball, this was a huge game for that unit to build confidence going into the good part of the schedule.
As a Redskins fan from the old school I am partial to a good defensive struggle, providing my team comes out on top. While much of the game in these situations can be frustrating to watch, for example the eight three and outs, all in the first half, the excitement of an explosive defensive play or a game breaking offensive play is heightened. There was not too much of the latter on Sunday.
Donovan McNabb was not at all sharp with a 56.8 passer rating, his lowest of the season. Ryan Torain had a good day running the ball, though with his two fumbles he is looking a lot more like another number 46 big back in burgundy, Ladell Betts, the guy that finished with fewer carries per fumble than any thousand yard rusher in 2006. There seems to be no one besides Ryan that can run the ball right now for the Redskins and by that I mean Keiland Williams. Anthony Armstrong had a good catch and dropped one but made two seriously heads up plays, one to tackle Charles Tillman for a loss after Ryan's first fumble and the other to scoop up Ryan's second fumble, Ryan better be buying Anthony dinner this week.
It was a game that would have been lost easily if the other team could have put any points on the board, seventeen is pretty close to a magic number in the NFL, it was Gregg Williams that once famously said in Washington that if we can keep the opponent to eighteen points then the defense has done its job.
Meaning of course that it is all on the offense, which in the case of Chicago was just hammered and harassed all day. And that is the thing for Redskins fans to hang their hat on, THIS DEFENSE KEEPS THE TEAM IN THE GAME.
Forget the yards per game, we are seven (seven!) games into the 2010 NFL season and the Redskins rank next to last in yards conceded per game, re sort that stat page and Washington is thirteenth in fewest points scored by opponents, not exactly a glowing stat but look at what that disparity says: Yards do not equal points against Washington.
Re sort again and no team is letting opposing offenses tire themselves out with energy wasting plays more than the Redskins. Wait what? Giving up more plays from scrimmage than any other team is bad? Ok never mind that one.
Listen to the players themselves tell it and they are right on, they are not worried about the plays and the yards, they are concerned with points and finding big play opportunities. Brian Orakpo is a monster, two sacks against the Bears. LaRon Landry makes players change their behavior, five tackles in this game. DeAngelo Hall can cover good receivers, four interceptions is not a fluke, that is being targeted and fighting back. Albert Haynesworth played a complete game and dominated, a sack and the Airborne Albert play. Secondary depth seems not to be as big an issue as we thought, Reed Doughty started for Kareem Moore and Philip Buchanon is an excellent third cornerback. Every team loses a player in the game to the Redskins, this week it was Lance Briggs reinjuring his ankle.
Quarterbacks not named Matt Schaub and Peyton Manning have a hard time finding open receivers consistently. The whole defense is crafty and opportunistic and as is often the case with new premier players on offense and new coaching, both of which the 2010 Redskins have, a good defense can give an offense room to develop, can back them up in tough games and can cover for mistakes and poor execution.
Bottom line is the Redskins already have matched their win total from last season as well as their takeaway total from last season, less than halfway into the schedule, and we really have the defense to thank for a lot of that.
Is anyone using the Washington Post's Redskins football iPhone app, Football Insider? It was one of the first apps I procured upon switching this week, I find that occasionally it crashes when I switch to schedule view and select a game. I am unable to find anyone else with this complaint, the app is super cool but I cannot tolerate damn buggy software.
Ben Folsom is wallowing in 3G and is the editor of The Curly R, a blog covering the Redskins and the NFL since 2006. The Folsom Point appears Tuesdays on Hogs Haven.