Ten Spot Review: The Difference is Clear

The Ten Spot Review--The difference between the offense we saw yesterday and the clunker we saw earlier in the season is clear.

1. Will Mark Brunell's elbow limit him? We weren't sure because we hadn't seen him, but we didn't think he'd be too limited. He wasn't. Actually, his arm might have been fresher because he had some time off. Brunell wasn't overly accurate early on, but he made enough plays especially late that no one can point to his elbow. We thought the Jags' defense would be more of a factor. On that we were clearly wrong.

2. Will the Redskins open up their passing attack? Clearly, they did just against the Jags, throwing more passes downfield than they had a week ago. Brunell was not pressured like he had been, which certainly helped. And mostly what he did was find Santana Moss in favorable situations. But the pass to Moss on the game-winner was beautiful.

3. Have the Redskins found their offensive rhythm? We said not to measure them by this game because of the Jaguars' defense. But we were wrong; go ahead and measure them. The difference is clear: it's Clinton Portis. Al Saunders is telling people Portis can be better than Priest Holmes. So having him in this lineup has meant more than anyone perhaps ever anticipated. Ladell Betts is fine; Portis is elite. The Redskins also did a good job with their sweeps and Portis was outstanding at maintaining his depth, allowing for better cuts. But they still tried to run inside, something they needed to do.

4. Should Washington be worried about Jacksonville's offense? We said some parts of it they should be. The Jags had played good defenses, plus a good running game and big wideouts. Turns out they were better than we thought -- and the Redskins' defense is worse than we thought. The secondary has played terrible, mostly the corners and safety Adam Archuleta. It's a major problem area.

5. How can the Redskins slow the big plays? We said one way would be for the linebackers to do a better job jamming, or at least slowing, receivers who line up in the slot. But the linebackers did a poor job in coverage, especially Warrick Holdman, who had played well until Sunday. The Redskins did not do a good enough job of slowing big plays.

6. How good is Jacksonville? Clearly, the Jags are very good. But until they win a big game on the road, they'll just be a good team. Elite teams win a game like this away from home.

7. What are the key matchups defensively? Handling the tackles inside was a big key and the Redskins did a good job of that, first by running wide and second with good blocking in the interior. Casey Rabach had his second straight good game. Tackle Jon Jansen was solid as well. The athleticism of the line is starting to show -- finally.

8.What else should they be worried about offensively? We said corner Rashean Mathis, who then intercepted a pass on the first possession, and middle 'backer Mike Peterson. Turns out Peterson helped Washington by running his mouth and inciting Portis.

9. How can the Redskins pull it off? We said with turnovers. We thought they'd get two picks; they had one, a diving grab by Phillip Daniels. But they received a gift fumble when replay officials appeared to botch the call, allowing Washington to get another three points. Think that helped?

10. Will the Redskins win? I went back and forth, but picked the Redskins to win a low-scoring game. Right on the outcome; wrong on the score. But I thought the Jags would be a little drained from a tough three-game start. Plus the Redskins are starting to hit a stride. Turns out the offense is in better rhythm than anticipated. Al Saunders kept the Jags off-balance and does an excellent job of getting the ball to playmakers in a position to do damage. Witness Moss' first touchdown, when he caught a pass in the middle of the field -- and the other defenders had been cleared out. It opened up a lane for him to take. We also thought this would be a good game for Brunell to manage. He made one bad decision, but largely made good ones and operated the system well.


Breaking Burgundy Top Stories