Let’s just say that I know what the Redskins will be doing this week at practice: tackle drills. This heartbreaking loss (which took the Skins out of first place in the NFC East) came down to that one aspect. And it applies to the whole team this time, not just the defense.
But we’ll start with the defense because they did the best of the Redskins’ squads overall. The Titans’ biggest threats—Eddie George, Frank Wycheck, and Steve McNair—were sufficiently contained so that the offense or special teams could win it. Remember that 14 of the 27 Titans points came when the D wasn’t even on the field. The Titans got into Redskins territory a couple times and came away with only field goals. To me, the defense will be practicing tackling drills because three—THREE—people missed Wycheck on his touchdown catch to put the game at 27-14. These were clean tackles they botched. And I won’t go into how Deion flew right over and off the head of his receiver in the first half. Again, though, the D did well. (By the way, that was a phantom roughing the passer call on Bruce Smith. It honestly seems like he gets one of those calls every game, doesn’t it?)
It’s tough to judge special teams because when they screw up, it’s very obvious and can drastically change the dimensions of the game. There’s little middle ground. Guess which side they were on yesterday. Oy vey—one punt returned for a TD, and lil’ Tommy Barnhardt gets an unnecessary roughness call. What?!? Let it be written that when the special team gives up points, the Skins lose. (OK, we did beat Carolina, but that was because one of the long kick returns was called back by penalty.) Poor, poor tackling. But it wasn’t nearly as bad as…
The Redskins offense. Now I ain’t one to second-guess, because it’s real easy to do a day later. But…I dunno WHO was calling the plays at the end of the first half. This was the absolute worst playcalling I’d seen from this team. Granted, they did eventually get to the Titans’ 34 with time on the clock, but as I watched I kept yelling (and I have two witnesses to this) “WHY ARE WE PASSING THE BALL WITH 58 SECONDS ON THE CLOCK IN OUR OWN TERRITORY!! RUN THE BALL!!” The score was only 13-7, and we would get the ball back after the half. Why in the world were we trying to score? If we really wanted to conserve time, why have the Titans kickoff twice, squandering precious seconds? Why not, f’crying out loud, run Davis two plays and go into the locker room? Wasn’t that first overturned interception omen enough?!?
And what in the Sam Hill happened to our players on the 81 yard interception return? Did we even have 11 players on the field or did they head to the locker room? Maybe it was the camera angle, but after the Titan caught the ball, I saw five players trying to get to stop the return. Where was everyone else? Chalk it up to the Titans’ defense for switching into special teams blocking in a matter of seconds.
The offense proved, though, that they can move on the best of defenses. The last TD drive by the Skins was phenomenal and should’ve put fear into the Titans. Brad was consistent, Davis was getting 6 yards per carry, and time barely moved off the clock. Heck, even Old Man Reed caught a ball. It was even better than the scoring drive the Skins began the game with. The Redskins were the more powerful and efficient team on the field.
I guess we shouldn’t spot the other team 14 points next time.
OFFENSE: C+ (that was a potentially TEN POINT swing in the first half)
DEFENSE: B (except Deion, who gets a C. Deion, at less than 35 years of age, is the subject of “he’s lost a step” talks and gets excuses for being beaten. Darrell Green is 40—40!!—and still plays better than Deion. You’ll never see me with a Sanders jersey.)
Sp. TEAMS: C- (I bet Snyder is scouting Desmond Howard.)
For the record, the Skins have done better than I expected this year, given the schedule. I thought they’d lose to either the Ravens, Bucs, Jags, or even Giants. But they didn’t, so we’re still in great position for the season. Norv and I will be suiting up for wide receiver tryouts this week.
Next Opponent: at Arizona. Redskins win 35-14.