1. We asked: Do the Redskins have a chance?
We thought they had a chance to make it competitive, at least into the fourth quarter. Why? Because of the Redskins' defense, which turned out to be a joke. It didn't help that Carlos Rogers got hurt, but it killed them that the line played horribly. The linebackers were blocked most of the day and they pressured Tom Brady one time. The Redskins appeared focused and determined during the week; it did not translate into good play. It also seemed as if the Pats were unbelievably focused, perhaps because they had heard all week about the Redskins' D. And, by the way, let's get this out of the way: Whether or not the Pats ran up the score, I don't want to hear it. The Redskins' D could have helped themselves by, oh, tackling and making a play or two. Any talk about running it up obscures what happened: they got their [butts] kicked.
2. We asked: Can the offense score enough to win this game?
We did not think so. And that was proven correct. The offense couldn't even move the ball, let alone get points. They're a bad offensive team right now, starting with the right side of the line. The running game is horrendous and, perhaps, now is the time to turn to Ladell Betts. Maybe he can get something going that Clinton Portis can not. The Redskins' line and the tight ends could not handle the blitzes. Mike Sellers was poor in protection and he had plenty of help. Jason Campbell did the worst job he's done of feeling the pressure and compounded that by losing three fumbles. That's a problem.
3. We asked: What must they do offensively?
Clearly they had to establish the run. But this team that is built to run the ball can't get anything going on the ground. Again, the right side does not help, but is it just them? We also thought they had to take some chances downfield, which they attempted to do. Problem was, Campbell was highly inaccurate so that plan went out the window.
4. We asked: What's the concern with New England's defense?
To us it was the Pat's front seven. That clearly was the case. Vince Wilfork controlled the middle, as he usually does. And Mike Vrabel and Rosevelt Colvin were major pests -- especially Vrabel. As an Ohio State guy, I like what Vrabel has done. I didn't realize he is now a Hall of Famer, but that's the only conclusion I can draw after watching the Redskins deal with him. He killed them off the edge. He was too fast for Sellers and Colvin got into Sellers chest a few times and shoved him back. But Wilfork's ability to control the middle prevented the running game from getting started.
5. We asked: Who needs to have a big game?
It had to be Portis. It wasn't. He finished with 27 yards on 11 carries. Yuck. He didn't have any burst, but he also didn't have a lot of holes.
6. We asked: OK, what about the Pats' offense -- can they stop it?
I thought the secondary would be OK against this unit. But it hurt that Fred Smoot couldn't play, taking away Shawn Springs from covering the speedy Wes Welker in the slot. Instead, it was Pierson Prioleau who tried that on occasion; but Prioleau is too slow for a guy like Welker. But our major concern with the D was up front. We thought that was a bad matchup and that proved accurate. If I was a Redskins D-lineman yesterday, I would have shaken Brady's hand afterward. That way, they could say they finally got near him.
7. We asked: Should they blitz Tom Brady?
We didn't think they should do a lot of that because of the potential for huge plays downfield. The Redskins did blitz a couple times and failed. But they also couldn't generate any rush with the front four and allowed Brady to sit in the pocket and pick them apart. He's a surgeon; but he's even better when no one is around him. The guy is a great QB, but his line allows him to be even better. He found eight different receivers, three of whom caught touchdown passes. Despite all the downfield talent, he'll just as soon hit someone underneath, taking what's available.
8. We asked: What matchups do they need to win defensively?
Andre Carter needed to win a few times against Matt Light, simply because someone had to pressure Brady. But Carter was nowhere to be found, except for pouncing on a fumble downfield. Carter was largely invisible and showed that while he's not bad, he's also not capable of beating a good tackle.
9. We asked: Will injuries be a factor?
Did not think losing Rock Cartwright would hurt and it clearly didn't. Losing Smoot had a bigger impact especially when Carlos Rogers went down for the game, and more. Smoot's absence forced others into situations where they were not as good. Though Prioleau has covered in the slot before, Welker was too speedy for him. (He was not always in man). The fear now is that Smoot's hamstring will be a season-long issue, which means the Redskins will have some troubles ahead.
10. We asked: Who will win?
We said the Pats, 28-16, thinking the D would play a respectable game but not be helped by an offense that is bad and would put it in tough situations. We did not count on the D playing so poorly either. We thought the Skins would cover the spread. Um, wrong. New England might have played its best game of the season and if the Pats do that, no one can beat them. Especially a mediocre NFC team like Washington. At this point, the Redskins should not watch film of that game, but they should remember it. I would put up 52-7 on a board in the meeting room to remind them of what can happen if they're not tackling well or if they don't feel like pushing themselves just a little bit more.
Ten Spot Review: Redskins 7, Patriots 52
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