Skins Protection Needs to be Shored Up

Redskins Park, Ashburn, VA 09.27.05--John Keim's thoughts on pass protection, Arrington, and the makeup of the team.

. . . The pass protection bothers me, particularly out of the shotgun. Granted, it becomes a clear passing situation, making it easier on the defensive linemen. But five of the Redskins' eight sacks have come out of this look. So, too, have two holding penalties. That's not good.

It's not all on the linemen, though left guard Derrick Dockery needs to be more consistent. Some of it is the protection that's been called -- one of the sacks against Dallas occurred because of a poor scheme and not because a particular player messed up.

This can be a good line, but to become better than that they must shore up the pass protection. The pieces are there; the results so far aren't.

. . . Does it matter if LaVar Arrington plays? And why do so many people care if he does, as long as the team is winning? Clearly he remains one of the most popular players on the team and he's a three-time Pro Bowler. If he's not playing, it makes you wonder. Some of it is that the coaches want to make sure his knee will hold up. But it's also clear they don't yet seem to trust him on the field. Arrington is being a good teammate and not mouthing off. Yes, he said last week he doesn't know why he's not playing. But there's no malice and he's not a problem in the locker room. Nobody was happier after the Dallas win than Arrington -- and he barely played in the game. But I have a hard time being convinced that the defense is better off with him on the sideline, at the expense of a journeyman (Warrick Holdman) or Chris Clemons (in rush situations). Then again, these coaches clearly know what they're doing.

. . . The Redskins have a lot of professionals on the team and it will prevent the locker room from being divided, starting with both quarterbacks and players such as Arrington. They might not make the playoffs; it will only stem from poor play and not any problems in the locker room. It's a good group to cover. Even Sean Taylor has relaxed. Yesterday, after answering a question about what he did over the bye from a TV reporter, I started to ask him about an on-field question. He declined, but he did so with a genuine smile. It's a good start. It would be nice if he gains a comfort level here.

. . . I'm troubled by the red zone production. Mark Brunell is four of 13 passing in opponent territory, which doesn't help. And the receivers size makes them poor targets inside the 20. The running game should have some power with Ladell Betts near the goal line, but the passing game must contribute more in this area. Not sure it can just yet.

. . . I thought corner Walt Harris had a poor summer, but he's playing pretty well after two games. Again, another professional. How many teams could have a top-10 pick be nothing more than a nickel corner? The Redskins are intent on not playing any defenders before they're ready. What a novel concept.

. . . Jon Jansen is having a tough start in the locker room. First his alma mater loses to Notre Dame (Renaldo Wynn) and last week they lost to Wisconsin (Cory Raymer, Casey Rabach). Yes, they've let him know about it. As Jansen was being interviewed Monday, Raymer walked past singing a Wisconsinized version of the Michigan fight song.

. . . Sunday's game will be very telling. It's the best team Washington will have faced thus far, but one that does not travel well (2-9 since 1998 playing in Philly, New York or Washington). We'll see if the Redskins really can become a playoff team. Will they capitalize on last week's momentum? Or will they be the team that struggled for 56 minutes against Dallas?


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