Skins Win in SF

The Redskins have started to prove something lately. They're not a bad team. And they can beat bad teams with ease, which they've done in two of the past three weeks.

After weeks of watching them not beat anyone, it's a step in the right direction. Certainly their defense is playing at a playoff level -- and higher. Their holes defensively aren't that great. Though they need a pass rushing end, they've flourished without one this year.

They're growing offensively, but they still didn't do a good enough job finishing drives against the Niners. When you look at the Redskins now, you must look at them in relation to 2005 because that's what they're doing. And these last couple weeks are like preseason games, which is why every little thing must be analyzed, aside from just winning or losing against a two-win team.

There were signs of growth: better downfield passing; a ball-control attack. But there were other signs as well that must be improved for this offense to move up a step, turning the Redskins into contenders.

Another troubling sign: the continued stupid penalties. If Pat Dennis is on the team this week after his moronic head-butting 15-yard penalty, then Joe Gibbs is in a giving mood.

Best sight: LaVar Arrington playing defense, lining up at left end for approximately 25 snaps. He blew up one run around right end when he knocked back a Niners guard, leading to a two-yard loss. Arrington didn't make any big plays, but he did make his presence known. He might never get completely comfortable this season, but at least he'll get a chance to play and that'll help his development in this defense. He's playing now to be better next season.

Big play: Linebacker Antonio Pierce played his position perfectly and was rewarded with an interception and 78-yard return for a touchdown. It changed the game as the offense messed up good field position on a couple drives, settling for field goals. The Niners were still in the game, trailing 16-9, when Pierce made his play.

Big play II: End Ron Warner intercepted a pass while dropping into coverage, returning it to the 9. Give an assist to blitzing linebacker Marcus Washington, who forced Ken Dorsey into a wobbly errant toss.

Big play III: Safety Sean Taylor intercepted a first-quarter pass, getting help from a big hit by tackle Cornelius Griffin on Dorsey. Taylor's play nearly resulted in a touchdown when he handed off to Lemar Marshall during the runback -- Marshall raced into the end zone. But it turned out to be a forward handoff, which can only happen behind the line of scrimmage, and the ball was returned to the Redskins' 41.

Nice looking drive: For the third straight game Washington scored on its first drive. It's progress, making them look like a real offense. The Redskins still have a ways to go to score against a good defense, but they've taken a couple steps in recent weeks.

Still troubling: The Redskins should have blown this game open early, but failed because of their Red Zone offense. Once again, it stunk. They have a couple problems in this area. One, running back Clinton Portis is not a pile mover. He's a special back, but needs a crease to slip through. When he gets that, watch out. But if he's met by a lineman or linebacker, he'll be stalled. That's what happened Saturday. It doesn't help him that his line doesn't drive anyone back.

Another problem is Patrick Ramsey. It doesn't seem Joe Gibbs trusts him enough yet to throw often in this area. He'd rather play conservatively, settling for field goals, than let Ramsey throw too much. On one play, Ramsey hurried a throw, whipping it out of bounds. He had about another second and had he looked back just a little to his left, he would have seen a wide open Robert Royal. Ramsey needs to get better in this area.

Still learning: Ramsey lets his big arm bail him out. He has a good arm, but he'll be even more effective when his timing improves with his receivers. That way he can start firing balls at his wideouts before they make their break, giving them a better chance to do something with the ball after it arrives.

Going deep: Ramsey did throw two nice deep balls, completing one for 39 yards to Rod Gardner. He barely missed on the other, a deep out to Laveranues Coles. But the ball was put where only Coles had a chance for the catch.

Quiet 100: Clinton Portis rushed for more than 100 yards, but averaged only 3.1 yards per carry. He wasn't much of a factor, save for one 18-yard run.

Easy read: The counter trey didn't do much against the Niners. Too often the linebackers filled the hole, beating the blockers to the spot, as often happens when this play is read.

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