1. Running Game.
For all the talk about conservative play-calling, the real issue is that Washington can't run the ball. And it's not just because defenses are crowding the box; it's because the Redskins aren't getting consistent blocking from the right side of the line -- particularly on designed cutback runs -- and Clinton Portis is not running like his old self. Anyone who wonders about the value of training camp only has to look at Portis' start. He's starting to round into form, he says, so we'll see. But this will be a season-long issue. Don't forget, the Redskins struggled last year to run the ball until Ladell Betts became The Guy. We're not suggesting that Betts should be The Guy now, but we will say that what they're doing now is not working.
The Redskins have eight interceptions, two more than all of last year. That's a credit to the four-man rushes that Washington has gone to of late. In the past two games they've picked off four passes and it could have been eight considering the drops they've had. One of the picks Sunday came with a three-man rush when Cornelius Griffin collapsed the pocket and forced Kurt Warner to throw high and wide of his target. Demetric Evans had dropped to the inside of the receiver, leaving Warner one lane -- to the outside. London Fletcher picked off the overthrow. Fletcher's ability to play the run so well, along with the other front seven members, allows the DBs to play cover-2. With any pressure, that forces hurried throws into congested areas.
3. Joe Gibbs.
Back to the offense for a moment. The older he gets, the more conservative he becomes, which rubs off on the play-calling. No, he's not calling plays. But he does have a say in what type of game he wants called. Throwing on every down is not the answer -- the Redskins are 0-5 when Jason Campbell attempts more than 30 passes -- but there's a reason why Washington surrenders so many double-digit leads under him. Just ask yourself this: if you had no knowledge of his past and only knew Gibbs from the past three-plus years, what would you think? That said, he's right that the Redskins need to win by being physical on offense and playing good defense. And the major problem this team has is injuries along the line, as well as some very unproductive receivers.
4. The Wideouts.
No touchdown receptions? How is that possible after six games? Makes you wonder what's wrong with Santana Moss, doesn't it? Moss clearly is not himself and, as in the past, it shows in his productivity. Because Brandon Lloyd is a bust, the Redskins can not open the offense the way they probably would like. That and an offensive line that could not handle pass-blocking that often.
5. New England.
One word for the Redskins this weekend: Yikes! Will anyone predict a Redskins victory Sunday? Probably not, save for the homer or two. But the Redskins will give themselves a terrific chance if they can pressure Tom Brady with only four linemen, a difficult task no doubt. My real problem is that Washington's offense must be more productive than ever. If the Redskins can somehow control the ball, they could make it interesting, maybe more so than any team New England has faced so far. At least until the following week when the Pats play Indy.
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