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Old 12-07-2007, 02:50 PM   #1
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Join Date: Feb 2004
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Friday Afternoon H-Back

Source: Redskins Insider

Let's begin at the end, shall we? Very different feel to the final few offensive drives Thursday, eh, with Todd Collins at the helm?

It was clear the approach was different with a fourth quarter lead with Collins behind center. The Redskins were more aggressive and played to win, rather than trying to milk a lead not to lose. To me, they should have been giving Jason the same chances - rather than sticking with an inept running game against Buffalo and blowing it, again - but Saunders and Collins have been together a long time, and Gibbs - who is clearly more comfortable with older QBs - was gushing about him after the game.

"I've been with Todd for a long time," Saunders said after the game in a quote that was cut from my game story. "And it's like anything else: When you have a lot confidence and know what they can do, you have a tendency to do things a little differently."

On the final two drives in the game, clinging to a 14-10 lead, the Redskins threw the ball 12 times and ran it just seven times. Again, the poor running game had something to do with this, but Portis has been averaging about 2 yards per carry for a month now, so nothing new there. Contrast that to Sunday against Buffalo, when the Redskins led 9-2 at the half and ran the ball 15 times (for a paltry 34 yards) while throwing it just 14 times. Trust me, the players were overjoyed at this development, everyone from defensive players to offensive linemen.

Collins deserves major judos for playing perfect football (144 rating) and this was by far the best outing of his career (his previous best rating for a game in which he attempted at least 11 passes was 101.3, back in 2007. Now, whether he can keep this up against better defenses on a regular basis will be the big question. Next Sunday will be his first start since Dec. 14, 1997, all 32 teams in the NFL were content to let him remain a backup for a long, long time. That also provides a unique motivation as well for the QB, and no doubt Al Saunders's rep is riding on this as well (he was shaping up to be a bit of a fall guy around here, and I found myself wondering about his long-term future in Washington. But if his boy can rally them to a strong finish, then it would work strongly in Saunders's favor, because most in Redskins Park believe that if it was up to Al Todd Collins would have been his starter here since Day One.

Now, if the offensive line continues is horrid play in the second half of the season - letting the passers get pounded and opening up few holes - and the running game remains this poor, then Tom Brady will have a hard time doing much in this offense. There are problems at tackle and guard, and Randy Thomas's return was shortlived, though he hopes to be back for the Giants game. He was playing with essentially one arm Thursday, though. Campbell had been getting hit repeatedly in the blindside - tackle Chris Samuels whiffed on the hit to Jason's knees Thursday - and as a unit they look slow and fatigued.

Portis isn't hitting holes the way he once did, either, and aside from a two-game outburst at midseason he has been among the least productive backs in the NFL. On the season Portis is averaging just 3.7 yards per carry - a half yard below even the NFL average - and by far the worst of his career. He has just one run over 20 yards all season - in 255 carries, only three men had rushed more times than him entering Week 14. Portis ran 66 times for 333 in two weeks, carrying a heavy load against the Jets and Eagles in games the Redskins split. In four games since he has rushed 74 times for just 190 yards, a staggering 2.6 yards per carry. Portis has just one carry over 10 yards in the past four games. In three of those four games he does not have a rush over seven yards.

Those who read the H-Back in its many forums (Monday Morning/Sunday Night/Friday Afternoon) know that I have been calling for a expanded role for Betts for a long time. Still can't figure this one out.

As for the defense, well, the secondary is a mess with all the injuries and hobbled starters, but they held together to make a huge red-zone stand late in the game. The bend-don't-break philosophy has kept the Redskins in games and kept the season alive. They have allowed just two touchdowns in the past three games, and one was on a very short field after the offense turned the ball over against Tampa Bay. Washington's offense, meantime, has scored just 11 touchdowns in the past seven games.

Gregg Williams was more aggressive than we've seen him all season, bringing lots of heat from safety Reed Doughty and the linebackers. It rattled Chicago's offensive line and resulted in one QB being knocked from the game, and Griese operating under duress a lot of the time. Lots of balls knocked down at the line, too.

There will, however, be big issues in the defensive backfield to overcome. Losing Sean and Carlos Rogers and now having Springs - who had to beg his way onto the field with a back injury that kept him from walking normally all week - and Smoot (hamstring) playing while beat up does not bode well. The Bears used Devin Hester to attack the secondary with 8-to-10 yard patterns with him spilt wade. Young DBs John Eubanks, Leigh Torrence and Doughty all had their struggles - Eubanks in particular - and several veterans I spoke to today are already bracing from an all-out passing barrage from the Giants and BBM in their next game.

Williams will likely have to continue to use LaRon Landry very deep in a prevent role at free safety, and the rookie most curb the over-aggressive penalties.

Random Ramblings: Not sure what you guys think, but in those conditions, at home, moving the ball early, I thought Gibbs should have gone for it on fourth-and-short on that first-quarter drive rather than try the 47-yard field goal. Not surprised in the least that he kicked, but thought he could have made a statement there ... Nice job by Kedric Golston blocking that field goal ... Great work avoiding Hester in the return game for the most part, and Frost got it done in the punt game for the most part, too ... Springs had his first two-pick game since 2004. Both were huge, and I thought swayed the game at a pivotal moment ... MLB London Fletcher had his best game in a few weeks and was all over the place, picking up 12 tackles (9 solo).
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