Speaking From Experience

Former Redskins linebacker Eddie Mason shares his keen insight once a week with Warpathinsiders.com, talking about the game just played and the one upcoming. This week he reviews the 16-10 win over Tampa Bay and has a rather strong prediction regarding Clinton Portis for Sunday's game against the Giants.

What I liked defensively: The first thing that stood out to me in this game was the defense and the scheme by Coach Williams. It seemed like every blitz he called was effective. It seemed like all the guys were on the same page. They line, the linebackers, the defensive backs, were all working together. It seemed like they were on point.

I think that's the intensity and attitude Coach Williams installed from Day One. He instantly got their respect and created an aggressive mentality that they needed to have. And he did that the first day they started out, with those 40 up-downs -- that's something you usually do in high school. But with those 40 up-downs, he was making those guys understand and he got their attention that this is the type of work menality you need. And it's not about individuals, it's about one unit working together. That's what those guys bought into. They're a real t-e-a-m. I saw guys really buying into it.

One thing Gregg had been known for were his aggressive defenses. When it comes to the blitz packages, it's all about the timing and calling the right blitz at the right time. Not only from a defensive players' standpoint with timing up the cadence and the snap count, but also from the timing of when is the right time to call those blitzes. Coach Williams knew when to call them and when not to and when to pull them back and when to play zone coverages. He had a nice mix. Another key to that is that it's early in the season. It's only game one and right now teams really didn't know what to expect. The Redskins had no tendencies. Right now teams haven't adjusted to their pass-blocking schemes for the type of blitzing they're going to have. He won't be able to do that week in and week out. If he does, we'll get hit with big plays sooner or later.

LaVar looked more comfortable. I can tell when he's confused and I can tell when he's out of position and when he doesn't understand what he's doing. I didn't see that at all out of him. You didn't hear his name a lot, but he seemed just much more in tune with the defense and doing what he was coached to do. And he was able to make some plays later in the game. Matt Bowen played like a maniac and was all over the field. Coach Williams recognized that he's not the best cover guy, but he's a good hitter and plays the run and can blitz so that's what he did with him. He kept him out of pass coverage and did a lot of fire zone blitzes. He was fantastic.

What I liked offensively: It was very evident -- the running game. I was amazed at the patched-up line we had far as Kenyatta Jones and Lennie Friedman; he's really surprised me. I played with him when he was on the scout team and he's worked himself into a pretty good center. I think the line held their own, but also the wide receivers blocked their butts off.

To me, the unsung heroes on some big runs that Clinton was able to have yesterday. They did a lot of runs on the edge and that highlights his ability. He's not known as a between the tackles runner, but he was able to get on the edge. It wasn't just because the line was doing a good job, but because of the receivers -- Laveranues coles, James, Rod. They did a great job of blocking down. I saw James do it a couple times on the ends and Laveranues cracked down on the linebackers. As linebackers, we were taught that you never should get blocked by a wide receiver. I'm pretty sure the Giants, and I know Coach Coughlin's mentality, will be told that if you let either one of them block down on you, then you'll get benched. You just don't let that happen. I'm surprised that the Bucs' linebackers, Brooks and Quarles, allowed for these guys to block them like that. But we're talking about tough-nosed guys who aren't afraid to stick their nose in there. They'll block ends. That's unheard of for receivers.

What I didn't like: The number one thing, and I know it's one of Coach Gibbs' most emphasized phases, was the special teams coverage unit. I was not impressed at all with the kickoff coverage. I felt like there were numerous occasions where the Bucs were two kickoffs from taking it back to the house. That really shocked me, considering the way Danny and Coach Gibbs emphasized special teams. The return game wasn't on cue, either. They had numerous opportunities on punts and didn't get the field position they should have gained. That was a disappointment.

The second thing I didn't like was the offensive production in the third and fourth quarter. They were almost like the Tampa Bay of old, where you score 14 points and we'll hold it for you with defense. What really disappointed me was the passing game. Mark came out sharp throwing some great passes and it seemed like he and Rod had a thing going and then Tampa just dominated. When they got back to the running game, that's when they were able to score.

A look ahead: The way Brian Westbrook ran all over the Giants' defense, I'd expect Clinton to have 200 yards rushing this week. I wouldn't doubt that at all. I don't foresee the Giants, based on their weakness at linebacker and Mike linebacker in particular, to being able to stop him. If they couldn't stop Westbrook, they surely won't stop Clinton. And the Redskins have a better offensive line than the Eagles. I think the receivers should have a field day as well. The Giants just didn't look good at all.

I expect the Redskins to totally dominate the Giants. The only thing is playing up there and anything can happen. They'd better not approach it as an easy win. They have to have the mindset that it's another work day and I'm guessing, based on Coach Gibbs, that they'll approach it that way. You know Kurt Warner is going to throw one or two picks evey game. It's sad to say that because he's a former Super Bowl MVP. But confidence is a major issue in pro sprots. When players lose that, you lose your edge. He's jittery in the pocket and he doesn't stand in there with confidence. If I was the Giants, and I'm now an armchair coach, I would go with Eli. You know it's a rebuilding year so let him take his bumps and bruises, let him learn and get experience.


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