1. We asked: Are the Giants really this bad?
The answer: I doubt it. My concern was that the offense was too explosive and they still had enough talent defensively to pose a threat, especially if the DE's ever awoke. Where the Giants improved Sunday was in their defense. They played more conservatively and tried to force Washington to slowly drive downfield. Lots of cover 2. They also played the run much better than anticipated. And offensively they were what I feared: explosive and capable of hurting this D. Still, that should only have meant a close win; not a deflating loss.
2. We asked: Are the Redskins really this good?
We said: We're not sure. They didn't like like world beaters, but they did have the makings of a good team. Turns out, they're a lot like other teams in the NFC: capable of playoff contention or top-10 draft contention -- in the span of two weeks. The Redskins do have holes. Jason Campbell shows poise and delivers in the clutch; he also has a ways to go. They only have two wideouts who can hurt anyone in addition to Chris Cooley. Their defense is improved, but no D can survive without an offense helping it. And the clock management remains an issue. That's Joe Gibbs. It's been horrendous the past couple weeks. There was no reason to rush that final sequence of plays, especially the last one. They were stopped with 20 seconds left! They couldn't have huddled? The play looked hurried from the start.
3. We asked: How will the right side of the offensive line fare?
I thought they'd do OK and they largely did. Todd Wade got pushed back by Michael Strahan late, forcing a hurried throw. And Jason Fabini had some moments. But they largely held their own. It was not noticeable that they started the season as backups. I still think the line might become an issue later, but it was not the reason they lost Sunday.
4. We asked: What should the Redskins do offensively?
In addition to running the ball, they had to attack the back seven because of their coverage woes the first two games. Washington hit a big play to Santana Moss, but the Giants mostly eliminated the big plays and they fared fine on the ground. Clinton Portis only had 14 carries, which was odd given they had a second-half lead. Also, give New York linebacker Kawika Mitchell credit on the last series. He did not buy the play fake and covered Mike Sellers and he stormed through the line to tackle Ladell Betts on third down. The secondary forced Campbell to be near perfect with his throws late and, at times, he was.
5. We asked: Who could have a big receiving game?
The smart money was on Cooley and Moss. They combined for six catches for 101 yards, which was less than anticipated. Portis caught six passes, but dropped a big one on a third down in the fourth that was a killer. It could have resulted in a big play. Randle El caught two late passes that helped, but did nothing before then.
6. We asked: Who should the Redskins worry about on defense?
Obviously the passing game was a primary concern. But I worried about Derrick Ward and he managed 94 yards on 26 carries. Ward had some success rushing wide. And Plaxico Burress and Jeremy Shockey combined for 10 catches for 165 yards and a touchdown. Burress even dropped three passes or it could have been worse.
7. We asked: What's the key matchup defensively?
We highlighted Sean Taylor against Eli Manning because the Giants were going to take downfield shots. Burress had catches of 33 and 27 yards, though the latter was a short pass turned into a long gain. Taylor intercepted Manning and mostly played a solid center field. Of course, they also played lots of cover 2. But Manning did an excellent job in the second half of making big-time plays, especially on third down. He went 5-for-5 for 78 yards on third down in the second half.
8. We asked: What's impressed you most about Jason Campbell?
We liked his poise and thought his ability to move and run would be key. But the Giants did a good job containing him in the pocket and prevented him from doing much damage on the ground. Campbell did have a 10-yard run, but was contained.
9. We asked: What should they worry about offensively?
Two things stood out: Antonio Pierce and the ends ability to play the run. The Redskins could not generate enough of a ground game to really hurt New York. On the last sequence, Justin Tuck pushed Pete Kendall back, which eventually caused a pileup too deep and that's what Ladell Betts tripped over. The ends were good enough.
10. We asked: Who will win?
Well, we got the score right. But we had the Redskins winning. New York was due for a better game, but this week? Give the Giants credit; they were down 17-3 and rallied. Give the Redskins grief; they blew the game. They had a two-touchdown lead and could not do anything. They did not gain a first down in the second half until approximately nine minutes remained in the game. You can't win that way. I sensed resolve throughout the week, but after the game Chris Samuels talked about playing with more sense of urgency. I think some offensive coaches need to coach that way as well. The playcalling was suspect and the time management was horrible.
Ten Spot Review: Redskins17, Giants 24
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