Tony Banks provided more of a spark than Jeff George did in the first two games. When the game was still close, Banks was solid. His receivers did not help by dropping too many key passes. But Banks threw too high to tight end Stephen Alexander in the end zone on the first series. Banks showed good zip on the quick-hitting slants. But he used two timeouts in the first half, a sign he still has much to learn about htis offense. Banks also showed some mobility, running for 19 yards.
Bottom line: At least quarterback is no longer the biggest problem. This week.
Pity poor Stephen Davis. The man is running like a Pro Bowler and no one will notice at season's end. He's running hard and fast, breaking into the secondary with regularity. Davis showed good moves on his early runs, juking safeties on two occasions. Fullback Donnell Bennett was OK, gaining nine yards on two carries. Running back Ki-Jana Carter carried twice for three yards, looking like a back who had not carried since the preseason. Which he hadn't.
Bottom line: Davis could lead this team far if he had help.
Rod Gardner flashed some of his first-round potential. Finally. He used his body well on the 26-yard touchdown catch, shielding the defender from the ball. A strong move. But Gardner dropped two passes, including a deep ball in the second half that fell right through his arms. A tough catch? Maybe. But one a wideout must make if he wants to be considered a top receiver. Where is Michael Westbrook? He dropped a tough ball on fourth and one (see above statement). He also was called for a false start and missed a block on a wide run. Kevin Lockett also dropped a pass, though he grabbed two for 33 yards.
Bottom line: Great wideouts make tough catches; Washington's didn't.
Stephen Alexander had a poor day in the passing game, joining a long line of others who struggled. Alexander tried to get both feet down on a high pass from Banks in the back of the end zone, but couldn't. Another tough play, but one that could have been made. He also failed to look at Banks on another pass. The miscommunication resulted in the ball bouncing off his arm. But he did throw a few nice blocks in the running game. Walter Rasby blocked OK.
Bottom line: More production needed in passing game.
They opened holes for Davis and did a nice job protecting Banks when the game was still in doubt, giving him time to throw. What else could they have done? Center Cory Raymer and guard Dave Szott combined to throw solid blocks on two of Davis' better runs. The lone sack came on a stunt inside, through the right side. The tackles did a decent job of sealing the outside for some of Davis' runs. Right guard Matt Campbell didn't screw up inside.
Bottom line: Can't blame struggles on them.
They couldn't stop the run. Tackle Jerry DeLoach was overmatched inside, forcing Kenard Lang to return inside after starting at end. Lang made plays from both spots, finishing with six tackles. The man never quits. He forced a sack that went to end Bruce Smith. The ends couldn't contain the outside runs. Newly-signed Tyrone Williams played on the left side in the second half, alfterating with Dorian Boose. Neither was effective. Smith made plays on backside pursuit, but struggled when they ran at him. Boose played tackle and he, too, was overmatched inside. It's not his best spot. Dan Wilkinson didn't do much, finishing with one tackle, despite playing most of the game.
Bottom line: With Marco Coleman out, there's trouble ahead.
This group could do nothing to stop Kansas City from running the ball. They couldn't get off their blocks or missed tackles. That's a bad combination. Middle backer Kevin Mitchell and strongside backer Antonio Pierce combined for 17 tackles, but they weren't effective. Both missed key tackles--Pierce missed one on a Priest Holmes touchdown catch. He's smart and willing, but not yet able. Weakside backer Shawn Barber, who left with an injury, was bad, too. Here's a constant picture: Barber getting blocked by a lineman. It's getting old. At least he didn't celebrate a tackle after a nine-yard gain, like he did the previous week.
Bottom line: The invisible men.
Rookie corner Fred Smoot had his worst game, getting turned around twice by Chris Thomas, for goodness sake. Corner Champ Bailey was beaten on one third down, but the pass was dropped. Another time he was flagged for interference. Neither played the run exceptionally well. Safety Sam Shade struggled in coverage again. He, too, missed a few tackles. Free safety David Terrell was inconsistent. He made a nice play early, stopping the ball carrier for a one-yard gain. But he missed tackles and appeared to be fooled on a touchdown pass. Corner Darrell Green rarely played.
Bottom line: Missed tackles and blown assignments plagued this unit.
Returner Michael Bates appears close to breaking a long kick return every game. He averaged 28.6 yards on five returns. Kevin Lockett returned two punts for minus-4 yards. Ki-Jana Carter also ran back a kickoff for 21 yards. The blocking on this unit was solid. Punter Bryan Barker again had a mixed day, with a long punt of 54. The coverage was solid, on both kickoffs and punts.
Bottom line: A huge loss and this unit not at fault? Unbelievable.
Where to begin? Marty Schottenheimer is a proven winner, but not in Washington. Players have bristled at his controlling ways. Let up, man. He wants them to trust one another, yet it doesn't appear he trusts them. Offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye has no rhythm to his play calls, though the offense did move the ball early. Why throw on fourth and one? Davis is running well, yet the best player isn't on the field? At least use him as a decoy? Anyone think Bennett was going to carry the ball? Good lord. Defensive coordinator Kurt Schottenheimer's group is handicapped by some injuries. But they couldn't do anything to stop some mediocre wideouts.
Bottom line: Time is ticking on this group.