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Reason for (Actual) Optimism

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Old 10-03-2006, 10:44 AM   #1
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Reason for (Actual) Optimism

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Reason for (Actual) Optimism
Maybe you’re not personally inclined to glean much pride from a 35-point
offensive outburst against the lowly Houston Texans, and if so, I would agree. I mean, honestly, week to week this space is nothing short of a heaping stein of Burgundy Kool-Aid, and even here last week’s victory was assigned as asterisk given the competition. But by the time the Washington Redskins had finally removed their collective foot from the hindquarters of the Jacksonville Jaguars, their 36-point explosion against the previously third ranked Jacksonville defense that had only surrendered 38 total points in their three prior games, was a statement that no one could logically ignore.

For most Redskins fans, the fact that their Redskins won the 36-30 overtime tilt with Jacksonville isn’t a tremendous surprise, nor is it a shock that a healthy Clinton Portis has again proven to be the linchpin to the offense’s success. But even the most Burgundy-blooded among us has to admit to some surprise after watching Washington consistently be the more physical team despite lining up against an opponent whose physicality is practically their calling card. The Redskins were the alpha males Sunday afternoon, taking the fight to the Jags, and winning on more occasions than not.

Just as was the case against the lowly Texans, the offense was the catalyst that helped Washington to bring its record to a level 2-2. Clinton Portis put up 112 yards on a defense that hadn’t allowed an opposing rusher to reach the 100-yard plateau since the midpoint of the 2005 season. Santana Moss crammed three touchdowns, including the game-winner, into a four catch afternoon, and his 2005 partner in production, Chris Cooley, had his first really solid game of the season. The Redskin offensive line also looked blissfully reminiscent of their Hog ancestors as they repeatedly drove Jacksonville’s two All-Pro defensive tackles, John Henderson and Marcus Stroud, backward down the field and off of the ball. As if controlling the two Jaguar behemoths in the middle weren’t enough, the Dirtbags also kept Mark Brunell’s jersey clean for the second straight week, failing to yield a single sack to the vaunted Jacksonville defense.

But perhaps it was Brunell himself that packed the biggest punch against his former team. Playing despite a gash on his throwing elbow, Brunell notched his fourth 300-yard passing game as a Redskin, and unlike the other three, this time it translated into a Washington victory. Brunell has been as enigmatic in this young season as he has been both good and bad. During the first two games of the season, Brunell looked as if he couldn’t pour piss out of a boot if the directions were written on the heel. However in the last two games – both Washington victories – Brunell has looked better than nearly anyone in the game. The polarity of his season has been freakish, not Randy Cross’s smile freakish, but freakish nonetheless.

The Washington defensive front also loudly announced their arrival Sunday afternoon, sacking Jacksonville quarterback and local product Byron Leftwich three times and putting him on his back on a dozen or so other occasions. Safety Adam Archuleta registered the other Redskin sack on a blitz that so many fans had been waiting on since the season began. This is precisely the kind of pressure that good defenses get from their front four, and just the type of effort that Washington will need as it moves into the meat of its schedule.

As a team, the Redskins avoided killing themselves with penalties for the first time this season. Totaling only four for forty yards, the newfound discipline was a welcomed site given the self-inflicted damage the whistle has done to Washington in the first three games. The Redskins did commit two turnovers, which cancel out the benefit that could be gained from the two (one being admittedly questionable) forced by their own defense.

Despite all the good feelings and emotions that come out of such an exciting victory, it is imperative to note that the shortcomings still visible on both sides of the ball aren’t lost in the cloud of excitement that surrounds the resurrected season. The secondary, while improved, was still exposed for much of the fourth quarter by Leftwich and his ensemble of number two receivers. A return to the blitzing still that has become a Redskin trademark did result in more pressure on the passer, but the secondary is still surrendering big plays at an alarming clip.

Clearly, the healthy return of ShawnSprings would do much to curtail the flood of big plays surrendered thus far. The absence of Springs, easily the most capable corner on the roster, has thrust those more suited to be role players, such as Kenny Wright, into larger roles. However, the fact that Springs can have such an impact is almost as alarming as it is truthful. Redskins fans have seen the difference in the defensive line when star tackle Cornelius Griffin has been forced out of action, and they are now seeing similar disparities in the secondary with Springs out.

There are numerous candidates for the game ball this week, from Clinton Portis’ rugged effort, to Santana Moss, who looked to be so unstoppable, that it was as if he was ripped from Madden 2007 and dropped right in the middle of 10 Yard Fight. But the game ball this week will be split five ways and awarded to the offensive line, whose superior effort kept Brunell from falling victim to a sack, and transformed the stout interior of the Jacksonville line into a pair of Dana Stubblefields. They pulled flawlessly, blocked aggressively, and set the tone for the physical dominance that the Redskins enjoyed as Sunday afternoon gave way to Sunday night.

The momentum created from such a win is just the thing that the Redskins need to carry into their critical match-up with the soon-to-implode Giants in the Meadowlands this weekend. A victory would not only give the Redskins a winning record for the first time this season, but it would be a division road win, which as we all know is more valuable than a good team attorney would be for the Cincinnati Bengals. To win is to vault themselves right back into the thick of things in the NFC East and in the conference, however to lose, well, we’re not going to think that way here. Two games does not a dominant offense make, but two games does start a pattern, and given that the Giants have underachieved defensively thus far, the game may once again come down to the Redskins ability, or lack thereof, to shut down Peyton’s little brother and his band of Coughlin-haters.

A great win against a good team is just what the doctor ordered. To have a similar feeling a week from now, the effort will need to be just as high. As always, keep checking back in for your weekly Redskins football fix. Hail to the Redskins!




Questions and comments can be sent to Trevor Walters at skins.fan@comcast.net


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Old 10-03-2006, 10:54 AM   #2
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Re: Reason for (Actual) Optimism

I skimmed the article. He said one thing that jumped off the page, the Redskins have started a pattern. It's easier to build on something than fighting out of a hole week to week. And I think the confidence of this offense is starting to build.

I'll say this about Springs, yes we miss his one on one coverage and defending skills, but Springs is arguably the best blitzing corner in the league.

Good things are perkolating at Redskins's park!
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Old 10-03-2006, 11:03 AM   #3
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Re: Reason for (Actual) Optimism

Unless your a "hater" you cannot deny his words
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Old 10-03-2006, 11:23 AM   #4
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Re: Reason for (Actual) Optimism

Washington is listed as having the Number 3 Offensive in the league right now!!!! THANK YOU AL SAUNDERS!!!!!!!
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Old 10-03-2006, 11:27 AM   #5
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Re: Reason for (Actual) Optimism

Now it's time for the defense to knock NY out of the top 3 this weekend...
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Old 10-03-2006, 11:31 AM   #6
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Re: Reason for (Actual) Optimism

I think NY stats are a bit skewed, honestly. They've been playing from behind all season long. The defenses are almost designed to give up yards at that point. Eli is a gamer, but he can be wildly erratic too.
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Old 10-03-2006, 11:35 AM   #7
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Re: Reason for (Actual) Optimism

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I think NY stats are a bit skewed, honestly. They've been playing from behind all season long. The defenses are almost designed to give up yards at that point. Eli is a gamer, but he can be wildly erratic too.
WE CANNOT walk into NY and think that they won't be on their game. They will crush us if we have that attitude. Just ask the Jags.....
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Old 10-03-2006, 11:44 AM   #8
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Re: Reason for (Actual) Optimism

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WE CANNOT walk into NY and think that they won't be on their game. They will crush us if we have that attitude. Just ask the Jags.....
No we're not walking into NY and throwing our cleats on the field. I'm just stating some things that could play in our favor.
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Old 10-03-2006, 11:48 AM   #9
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Re: Reason for (Actual) Optimism

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No we're not walking into NY and throwing our cleats on the field. I'm just stating some things that could play in our favor.
I hope you are right! We really need to win. The Eagles won AGAIN... and Dallas won over the weekend.
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Old 10-03-2006, 11:49 AM   #10
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Re: Reason for (Actual) Optimism

I think the Giants can be had this weekend. I really do.

Look for us to exploit their linebackers.
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Old 10-03-2006, 11:53 AM   #11
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I think the Giants can be had this weekend. I really do.

Look for us to exploit their linebackers.
I just hope they don't exploit our secondary....
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Old 10-03-2006, 11:54 AM   #12
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Re: Reason for (Actual) Optimism

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I just hope they don't exploit our secondary....
They will certainly try.
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Old 10-03-2006, 11:59 AM   #13
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Re: Reason for (Actual) Optimism

I think we'll be okay on the secondary. I'm not drinking the cool aid yet, but Rumph and Wright are getting a little more comfortable back there.
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Old 10-03-2006, 11:59 AM   #14
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Re: Reason for (Actual) Optimism

Is Arrington playing? If so, with our knowledge of his tendencies, we should be able to exploit him righteously! N Y is RIPE for an ass kickin'.............East style
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Old 10-03-2006, 12:00 PM   #15
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Re: Reason for (Actual) Optimism

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Is Arrington playing? If so, with our knowledge of his tendencies, we should be able to exploit him righteously! N Y is RIPE for an ass kickin'.............East style
Yes, he'll be starting as far as I know. Good article in WP today about Arrington and Giants.
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