Analysis: Winners & Losers

The backup punter had a good night. And the punt coverage was outstanding. Thus ends the positive portion of Friday's 28-3 loss at St. Louis.

One week after the Redskins drubbed Miami, they were soundly defeated on the road. And they looked bad in doing it. They challenged the Rams with blitzes (sometimes drawing false starts by their constant threats, which is good). But the blitzes didn't result in big plays, only completions.

The offense looked sluggish, again, under Patrick Ramsey. It didn't help that the Redskins played minus starters Randy Thomas, Phillip Daniels, LaVar Arrington and Mike Barrow. And much of the Rams' damage came largely against Washington's reserves. But the Redskins' starters still didn't look good and if Marc Bulger were more accurate, it would have been worse in the first half.

I'd still like to see Kenyatta Jones do more at right tackle. He needs to show he can handle a top rusher one on one -- he usually has help and more often than not the tight end on that side has blocked the end, leaving Jones as a wild card blocker of sorts. And fortunately Chris Samuels wasn't seriously hurt. Otherwise, any hopes for a playoff berth would have ended before the season started. There's no viable backup beyond Jones.

Believe it or not, however, there were some positives. After all, in these games you look at individuals as much as you look at anything else.

By the way, did you notice that Joe Saleave'a started ahead of Brandon Noble? We'll see what that means.

Winners

QB Mark Brunell. By default. Again. But I worry about his arm strength on out routes, leaving the chance for easy interceptions returned for scores.

FS Sean Taylor. Produced another turnover. In four preseason games Taylor has intercepted three passes and caused two fumbles. He showed incredible speed to cover up teammate Andre Lott getting badly burned on a post by Torry Holt.

WR Rod Gardner. Caught two passes for 24 yards on the opening series. Looked good using his body to shield the defender from the ball. Also made a couple nice blocks. We're also trying to find some positive in this debacle.

WR Taylor Jacobs. Got open for a 44-yard pass from Patrick Ramsey. Also caught another pass for five yards. Showed speed and ran good routes. But see below.

DE Ron Warner. Again played better than Regan Upshaw. Showed he could drop into coverage on the zone blitz. But let's not get carried away here.

Coverage units: The kick and punt coverage units were outstanding, particularly the punt coverage. They were disciplined and stayed in their lanes every time. Good for them.

P Kevin Stemke. Punted once for 58 yards. The kid should get picked up by someone. And you know it's a bad game when the backup punter is among the winners.

DE Renaldo Wynn. Had a sack and looked quick getting around the corner to get it, something he hasn't looked in the past couple years.

Losers

QB Patrick Ramsey. Not sure what Mark Brunell really can do. But it's obvious that Ramsey is not ready to start. He simply can't run this offense yet and it's become glaringly evident just how screwed up he was by Steve Spurrier's offense. It failed to prepare him to be an NFL quarterback -- Ramsey looks like a rookie again. And he's struggled mightily on those mini-rollouts. He's inaccurate to begin with and those rollouts make him worse. He badly missed a wide-open James Thrash in the end zone. Ramsey still has talent and it will help him to sit and learn for a while. But it's evident how much the Redskins now need Brunell to succeed.

CB Fred Smoot. Yes, Torry Holt is one of the best, if not the best receiver in the NFL. But Smoot often wasn't within five yards of Holt in a league where one yard is considered wide open. It wasn't just Smoot as others struggled against him. But the Redskins need Smoot to play better and show he can handle a No. 1 wideout. Shawn Springs was OK, but he, too, was beaten badly on some routes.

FS Andre Lott. He got the start, but I'm not sure what they see in him. That said, Matt Bowen has failed to make many plays, either. But Lott isn't physical and was beaten badly by Holt on one play (like many of his teammates). He had a chance, again, to prove he's worthy of a starting job. Not sure he proved anything. That said, Bowen doesn't have a lock on the starting job. He, too, got badly beaten on a crossing route.

RB John Simon. Didn't carry the ball. Was that because a decision was already made on him? Or because the Redskins wanted to see others after giving him a strong test last week? It's usually not a good sign when you don't play. But it depends on the coaches thinking. I will say this: he's a better pass-catcher out of the backfield than either Sultan McCullough or Rock Cartwright. But McCullough did show that he was capable of catching passes, something he had not previously shown. It's a tough call at this position for backups.

CB Ade Jimoh. Toasted on a crossing route, failing to even come close to the receiver.

FS Sean Taylor. Yes he was included among the winners, but he also should be included here for some other plays. He was toasted on an inside-out move by Holt, leaving the receiver open by around 15 yards. And he bit hard on a reverse, leaving Shawn Springs without any help on the reverse pass. Fortunately, Springs had it covered. And Taylor must learn never, repeat NEVER, to lateral inside his own 10. He got lucky this time.

RG Ray Brown. Showed his age last night. Lack of quickness allowed his guys to pinch holes quicker. Also failed to land a good block on a counter, letting his man make a tackle in the backfield -- otherwise, the hole was there. The running backs rarely had a chance to hit a good hole.

WR Taylor Jacobs. Failed to control the ball after his 44-yard gain, allowing a Rams defender to punch the ball out from behind. Chalk that up to inexperience on his part. But he must learn the tricks of a defensive back.

LB Kevin Mitchell. Had one tackle for a loss, but looked slow getting off some blocks. Also, Antonio Pierce's versatility could hurt him. And backup Clifton Smith made some nice plays.


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