Now that is how you awaken your fan base! Or maybe not. The Redskins 19-17 split decision win over Tennessee was hardly one that instilled confidence–but it’s better than losing to a bad Titans team at home the day Mark Rypien goes into the ring of honor. A few thoughts about homecoming: first, do we have to call it that? I understand the concept–and it’s very cool to have the ex-Skins lined up on the sideline before the game–but homecoming sounds more like a Saturday when Tennessee-Martin is coming to town. Homecoming brings to mind backbiting fraternities and sororities complaining about inappropriate floats for the parade…or teenage kids wearing ill-fitting crowns and smiling awkwardly. Call it “Burgundy and Gold Day” or “Honor Day”…”Homecoming” just sounds ill-fitting for the NFL. Second– can the Fed Ex Fans give all the ex-Skins a little love? You’re standing up anyways–can’t you shout when they say Otis Wonsley or Brad Edwards just like you do for Darrell Green? Lastly– Florida State wants their jerseys and pants back.
Public Service Announcement: Belated Birthday wishes to Billy Zabka/William Zabka, aka “Johnny Lawrence” in the “Karate Kid” (as well as the arrogant bullies in “Just One of the Guys” and “Back to School”)…the inspiration for a big chunk of the weekly analysis of Kai Forbath’s goings-on. Anybody not in the Griswold household who gets a vote for Family President gets our vote.
Realignment, anyone? The victory makes the Skins 2-1 against the AFC this year–and 4-3 since the 2013 season which translates to a .571 winning percentage that would prorate to 9 wins over a 16 game season. The team is 1-15 against the NFC in that time. Is anybody thinking what I’m thinking?
Kirk replaced on the Bridge by McCoy– when your offense is falling out of orbit, of course you call the ship’s doctor. Kirk Cousins played his way to the bench in the first half with a pair of delay of game penalties, a lost fumble and an interception. Worst thing was–one felt it could have been worse. Enter Colt McCoy– after throwing one pass in 2013– and on his first pass of 2014 he connects with Pierre Garcon on a simple hitch pattern that #88 takes to the endzone (aided by the Titans inability to tackle). McCoy completes 11 of 12 passes for 128 yards and that TD–while driving the team the length of the field for the game-winning TD as the 4th quarter was winding down. More importantly, no turnovers. Even though he looks 18 years old, McCoy is actually older than both RG3 and Cousins. Replacing a midwesterner at the controls by a southerner who by all intents an purposes is a third-stringer doesn’t happen often: DeForrest Kelley rarely got a chance to outshine Shatner…now Colt McCoy gets a chance on the Monday Night stage next week in Dallas. What does this make RG3? Spock, of course. Live long and prosper..
Alfred the Emphasized– So he didn’t get 100 yards. So Mr. Morris only gained 3 yards a carry. At least they’re using him now as an option…18 carries for 54 yards on a day where they actually went to him on first down. Just like another Mr. Morris who’s all about making sure Jessie doesn’t ruin her father’s wedding–#46 provided solid support throughout the day. One concern- his losing the ball on the first drive (even though it wasn’t ruled a fumble) only enhances his reputation as the guy who can’t hang on to the football (much like Zack earned the rep of using the brick phone in the early days). Roy Helu Jr was held to -9 yards on three catches (including one extremely ill-advised screen that looked like it was intended to hit the O-Lineman’s back) but his 15 yard run on the final drive set up the game-winning march perfectly. Break out the Buddy Bands.
Wideout Weapons– one benefit of bringing in Colt McCoy in the second half– Pierre Garcon coming to life with 4 catches for 82 yards after intermission. While DeSean Jackson caught all 3 of his passes for 49 yards before the break–the Skins did take a deep shot with under a minute left to draw a pass interference call that set up the game-winning field goal. Add in the TE duo of Jordan Reed and Niles Paul, this team isn’t devoid of targets. They just need the right triggerman…
Third and At Least We’re Not Tennessee– the Skins went 3-of-11 at moving the chains against the only team in the league that’s worse on third down (Titans also went 3-of-11). Kirk Cousins went 2-of-6 at moving the chains, Colt McCoy 1-for-5 . While Cousins completed all 4 of his third down attempts for 49 yards, take away the shot to DeSean Jackson and it’s 3-3=16 with a lost fumble. McCoy’s (1-2=5 with no conversions and a sack for -7) best third down was the pass interference call against the Titans. Yardage breakdown: 1-for-2 on third and short (3 or less), 1-for-2 on third and medium (4-6 yards needed) and 1-for-7 on third and long (7+). After 7 weeks, 44% of the team’s third downs are by 7+ yards…and the Skins are converting just 2 of those 36 attempts. That isn’t a dropoff– it’s a major cliff.
From the Stoppable to the Moveable– yes, the Skins defense allowed just 17 points and held the Titans to 236 total yards. Keep in mind that Tennessee was minus their first string quarterback and runningback…and the Skins still couldn’t sack the highly immobile Charlie Whitehurst more than once. But at least they got an interception from Bashaud Breeland–and four of the top six tacklers were linebackers (Breeland and defensive lineman Jarvis Jenkins the exceptions. Nice job by ILB’s Keenan Robinson and Will Compton getting to the ball (the duo combined for 20 of the team’s 49 tackles). Now if only the secondary can avoid breakdowns– like the help that EJ Biggers never received on Whitehurst’s 38 yard TD pass to Derek Hagan. Stop smiling, Tony Romo.
Will no BO make the Defense Stink?– Brian Orakpo’s done for the year with pending surgery on an injured right pectoral muscle (an injured left pec wiped out a previous season, so at least now he’s balanced)…likely ending his days in Burgundy and Gold. The franchise tagged outside linebacker managed 24 tackles (7th on the team) with half of one sack (tied for 6th)…no interceptions and no fumbles forced or recovered this fall. While he may have underperformed his 11+ million dollar contract, Orakpo’s light years ahead of Trent Murphy–whose 9 tackles this year are overshadowed by his 3 penalties (including a punt return offsides on 4th and 5 Sunday that moved the chains for the Titans).
Flying flags– only 7 penalties for 50 yards…as the team is finally under the 8 penalties per game average (55 for the season). Sunday’s infractions featured four offensive: 2 delay of games and an intentional grounding on Kirk Cousins plus a holding against Tyler Polumbus, 2 defensive: illegal contact calls against Bashaud Breeland and Keenan Robinson, and the punt return offsides against Trent Murphy. Two loom large: Cousins first delay of game turned a 3rd & 5 into a 3rd &10–and with more pressure he fumbled which led to the Titans first score. Robinson’s illegal contact turned a 2nd & 15 at the TEN 26 into a 1st & 10 at the 36…and the Titans would wind up scoring on that very possession. After 7 weeks, the Skins have the 8th most flags and 2nd most penalty yardage in the league.
Cobra Kai– SWEEP THE LEG! Four field goals for Mr. Forbath. NO MERCY! The prized pupil of the Dojo kicks the gamewinner after “being iced”. I’LL LET YOU KNOW WHEN HE’S HAD ENOUGH! When you’re kicking for an offense that ranks near the bottom of the league in third down conversions, competence is crucial. GET A BODYBAG! Defensive End Jason Hatcher joked on Comcast Sports Net that they’d now let Forbath in the locker room after he made the kick. Really? That’s like Dutch telling Johnny he can’t hang out at Golf N’ Stuff. With all the lack of pressure Hatcher and the D-Line generated…he’s lucky Forbath is letting him back in the locker room.
Division Discussion– Pittsburgh’s Monday Night Football win over Houston places the AFC North (15-10) percentage points ahead of the NFC East (16-11)…although Cleveland’s loss to Jacksonville has to crush their RPI. The NFC South lost all three of its games to fall to 8-17-1 on the season…creating some distance with second sloppiest AFC South (11-17). Both of the Redskins wins are against AFC South teams…hmm.
Dissecting the Division– Dallas with its win over the NY Giants improves to 6-1 and moves past idle Philadelphia to not only take first place in the division but the top seed in the NFC…as the Eagles remain half a game behind the Cowboys. The Giants at 3-4 slip to 10th in the conference (losing the conference games tiebreaker to Chicago)…and the Redskins win means the Burgundy and Gold move ahead of Tampa Bay into 15th place in the NFC. They battle the 1-5 Bucs in their next home game November 16th. Can they hold another homecoming?