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Tennessee, How Could You Do This to Me?

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Old 10-20-2006, 01:43 PM   #1
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Tennessee, How Could You Do This to Me?

The latest installment from T-Walt

Tennessee, How Could You Do This to Me?

Sitting pretty up 14-3 and well in control of their supposed confidence builder against the winless Tennessee Titans, the Redskins seemed poised to gather themselves and go about their season with their minds aimed toward a return to their winning ways of 2005. However, unlike the Hank Williams, Jr. song from which this week’s title was taken,
Washington did not give the Titans some of the best of their days. All of the worst parts of the Redskins team were on display Sunday, from the token coverage in the secondary, to the troubling inconsistencies that have become the trademark of the Washington version of Al Saunders’ offense. When the dust settled, Titans coach Jeff Fisher was looking for someone to hug, while many of the Redskin faithful were looking for a stiff drink.

Tennessee brought the NFL’s worst rushing defense to FedEx Field, along with a rookie quarterback in only his third NFL game. It was all a part of a greater formula that was supposed to equal sure victory for Washington. But what that formula didn’t account for was horrible pass coverage, worse run defense, and awful play from the quarterback position. There is also plenty of fault to be shared amongst the coaching staff, who were just as off of their game as were the players they coach.

The trials and tribulations of the offense have received their fair share of blame when things have gone wrong this season, while their defensive counterparts seem to dodge such criticism as a whole. Any criticism thrust upon Gregg Williams’ boys always seems to be quantified as ‘poor coverage’ or ‘nonexistent pass rush’, not as a bad defense. However, if a defensive unit boasts the league’s 24th ranked pass defense, a run defense that just surrendered a career-best 178 yards to an average running back, and a pass rush that doesn’t get close to the quarterback until the post-game handshake, you’ve got yourself a defense with serious issues. So while the offense should have certainly been able to notch more than 22 points against a bad Tennessee defense, that total should have also been enough to do the trick Sunday afternoon.

The defense aside, one can’t help but look at the play selection and scratch their head. With a dominant running back and an offensive line whose strength is run blocking, it’s perplexing that Clinton Portis was given a mere 14 carries Sunday afternoon. This is to say nothing of the opponent, proud owners of the then-worst run defense, who were even without their best run stopper, Albert Haynesworth. Don’t tell me it was because the Redskins were behind, or because they were mired in third-and-long scenarios. While both may be true, it isn’t as if the passing attack is such a sure thing that it merits preference over the run game in that situation or in any other. If you’re going to lose, lose with your strengths. The Redskins’ strength offensively lies in the run game, where Portis’ talents are best on display and Brunell’s shortcomings are well hidden.

The game ball this week goes to Clinton Portis, who managed to visit the endzone despite a startling lack of carries. Perhaps the coaching staff was concerned with Portis’ gimpy shoulder, a fact which merits consideration since there were 12 other running plays shared among a host of Redskins. His possible health concerns aside, there is no reason not to feed Portis the ball and dare Tennessee to stop him. The Titans certainly played well above their horrific ranking, but they weren’t so lights out that Portis should’ve been placed on the backburner.

So where do the Redskins go from here? Sitting at 2-4 with what would seem to be a slim chance of improving that number in Indianapolis, their season will likely hinge on the outcome of Sunday’s match-up. Sure, five losses will not mathematically eliminate the Redskins from post-season contention, but it would mean that they would have win at least eight of their remaining nine games if they are to be in playoff consideration. Before last Sunday, a reasonable argument could’ve been made that the Colts, owners of a very porous run defense themselves, might just be susceptible to a physical rushing attack like the one that the Redskins are capable of providing. However in light of the events of Sunday afternoon, that fleeting hope has died a quick death.

Depending on your opinion on the matter, the absence of corner Carlos Rogers may also further diminish Washington’s already miniscule chances. I would argue that his broken thumb should not be reason enough to sit this one out since it isn’t as if Rogers has shown any ability to catch with two healthy opposable digits, and his suspect shoulder-block tackling technique doesn’t require much work out of the thumbs. Rogers has developed an aggressive case of rodgardneritis, a condition which all the cowbell in the world can’t resolve.

With Rogers out and Shawn Springs still a question mark with injuries of his own, newly minted Redskin Troy Vincent had better have been working out all these weeks because he’s going to see quite a bit of the field. With or without Springs, this will be the toughest test the secondary has faced all season. If the Redskins are to have any chance at all at Sunday afternoon, Sean Taylor and the gang must hold their own against the league’s top quarterback/receiver tandem.

Check back in next week for your weekly Redskins football fix. Hail to the Redskins!
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