Analyze That: Win over NY Jets

Redskins defensive end Bruce Smith did something he rarely does: he spoke in front of his defensive teammates the night before a game. And when Smith speaks, they listen. They also respond.

In a defensive meeting Wednesday night, Smith used his 19 years of experience to inspire his teammates, and also give them tips as to the Jets' game plan.

''Just him getting up there is an inspiration,'' Redskins end Renaldo Wynn said. ''Bruce is not a talker.''

Something he said must have worked: the Redskins' defense played an outstanding game in the 16-13 win over the Jets. The defense held New York to 158 total yards of offense and an average of 2.6 yards per rushing play.

Washington's defense was put in bad spots time and again in the second half, yet allowed only two field goals. It could have been worse. And on a key third and one late in the game, linebacker Jeremiah Trotter knifed through on a blitz to stop running back LaMont Jordan for a four-yard loss, setting up the game-winning drive.

In his speech, Smith talked about the opportunity to start off right. He also predicted the Jets' game plan, saying they'd try to run and use short, quick passes. He was right.

''You can't do that every week because then it loses steam,'' said Smith, who also had half a sack. ''But this was a time to assert my knowledge of the game and reitirate things. Some of the coaches said it was one of the most impressive speeches they had heard. The team responded well and I responded well to it.''

Observations:

. . . Linebacker Jeremiah Trotter showed the instincts he had in Philadelphia. On the third and one play he wasn't supposed to be blitzing. But he had a sense and went with it. He won't do that all the time, but it's something he didn't feel comfortable doing a year ago. And it's something he did with the Eagles.

. . . Linebacker LaVar Arrington was outstanding, showing his lateral speed once again. Actually, so, too was linebacker Jessie Armstead. He showed he can still help in a big way.

. . . Safety Matt Bowen broke up a pass in the end zone and made a couple nice tackles.

. . . The defensive tackles weren't spectacular, but they were solid. And that's all they have to be. There were times that Jets back Curtis Martin appeared to hit an open hole slow. Then again, maybe that was just the closing speed of the 'backers. We'll see.

. . . Quarterback Patrick Ramsey was close to perfect in the first half. But give coach Steve Spurrier a ton of credit. He put Ramsey in a position to succeed with the shorter throws and a strong running game. That opened up the deep plays. But Ramsey's 48-yard toss to Laveranues Coles, after ducking under a rushing linebacker, was the best play of the night. Took a lot of courage and concentration. He also showed how much he has learned when he took a sack inside the 10 on a busted play. A year ago he might have tried to force a pass. This time he took the sack and allowed the Redskins to still get points.

. . . Running back Ladell Betts. It's not that Trung Canidate had a bad game; he didn't (10 carries, 46 yards). It's just that I prefer Betts' decisive running style over Canidate's searching for the home run. Too often Canidate runs parallel to the line of scrimmage. Or he'll look to reverse field too quickly. That eventually leads to trouble. He had some nice dashes, though. Betts, however, made tacklers miss in the backfield by running through them. That's a huge bonus and he fits this line well. If they can get this kind of run production every game it'll be a good year.

. . . Coles was everything you could have hoped for. And more. Even the Redskins say privately that he's more than they expected. The Jets took him away in the second half using a two-deep zone, but by then he had proved a point.

. . . The best sign of the night was the offensive line's run blocking. That wasn't a problem in the preseason and that shows what they're capable of doing. Though tackle Jon Jansen gave up a couple pressures, he was strong in the running game. So, too, was the left side of Chris Samuels and Dave Fiore. That's a go-to side.

. . . I'd like to see more of a pass rush, but the Jets did stymie that a little with quicker throws. But not all were that quick. Had Vinny Testaverde not been so rusty it could have been a different story. But he is rusty and the Redskins covered well despite the lack of a rush. Just wonder if that will hurt them later in the season.

. . . The special teams coverage was better but there were still a couple times when they were close to allowing a big play. And still too many penalties. Also, punter Bryan Barker has reverted to last year's inconsistency. The Redskins won't put up with that for long.

. . . Actor/director Spike Lee sat in the pressbox wearing a throwback Joe Namath jersey.

. . . Kicker John Hall is clutch and established himself in his first game. The magnitude of that can't be underestimated. Especially in a city where kicker has been so problematic. He's almost worshipped among the players because of his ability and attitude (see that stick on a kickoff return?).

. . . Just think: If the Redskins beat Atlanta, they could come home to face the Giants with a 2-0 record. And that could be the biggest game of the season, one that could determine the direction the Redskins will go.

. . . Rod Gardner is an excellent receiver and makes tough catches underneath, knowing he'll get pounded. But he needs to always come back to the ball. He didn't on the interception. Though it wasn't a wise decision by Ramsey, Gardner must help by coming back. He didn't.

. . . Safety David Terrell was inactive, which was a surprise but warranted. In the final preseason game he made one of the poorest attempts at a tackle and that can't be tolerated. He's a likeable guy, but they need sure tacklers.


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