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Wilbits: NFL, College Notes

I suspect that a 9-7 victory over the woeful St. Louis Rams will be treated like a defeat throughout most of metropolitan Washington this week. I have a hard time disagreeing with that assessment, though I might not paint the Redskins as donkeys, as Thomas Boswell very eloquently did this morning in his column about the game. If you're going the glass-is-half-empty route, all your energies are directed at an offense that seems incapable of being even an average NFL offense. In other words, 20 points in a given game is a stretch. If you're a glass-half-full type, you revel in the fact that your defense was fairly stingy against a Giants team that hung 33 on Dallas and was even better (as should be the case) against the lowly Rams.

The defense looks as if it could be one of the best in the NFL and if the offense can simply be functional (if it can average about 15 points a game, doesn't turn the ball over or settle for field goals), the Redskins should be 5-1 over the next month. How? Rams, Lions, Buccaneers, Panthers, Chiefs. They're all dreadful. The Chiefs lost at home to the Raiders. The Bucs could replace the Lions as the worst team in the NFL -- yes, even worse than the Rams. The Lions might be the scariest of the upcoming opponents; Detroit has to be looking at the Redskins and thinking, "We're not losing to those guys at home!"

The offense is SO much less than the sum of the parts. Despite the local state of panic over QB play, Jason Campbell hasn't done anything egregious; he just hasn't been particularly good. The running game isn't effective in the red zone. The play-calling leaves something to be desired, including passing up field goals to try to make a statement with an offense that isn't good enough to state anything.

Hitting Brady: That said, the Redskins look better than the overhyped New England Patriots, who deserve to be 0-2. After watching the Jets smother Tom Brady, I had two thoughts: why haven't more teams pressured Brady with that kind of fury and commitment? And is it possible the Patriots have lost that much from their 2007 squad? Some readers were offended two years ago when I said the way to beat Brady was to hit him in the mouth...as if I was talking about the ballet instead of professional football. Well, Rex Ryan, by announcing he was refusing to kiss Bill Belichick's ring, announced himself as the party crasher who planned to do a lot worse to Brady besides hit him in the mouth. It's the pressure that made Brady so uncomfortable, that prevented him from finding any of the rhythm the analysts always talk about. I'm curious to see who among the upcoming opponents will commit to pressuring Brady the same way the Jets did in their victory Sunday.

Tiring of Romo When are the Cowboys going to get tired of Tony Romo's shotcomings as a quarterback? When are they going to tire of the turnovers in big games and against the better opponents? It was great to see Romo conduct himself in such a stand-up manner and take all the blame for the Cowboys' loss to the Giants Sunday night in Jerry Jones' new amusement park. But what's going to change? Romo, all of a sudden, is going to start valuing the ball and eliminating the risks from his approach to the game?

The College Scene

Some losses in college football Saturday will be difficult to overcome. Nebraska had Virginia Tech beaten but unforgivably gave up an 81-yard pass play. And Michigan State's Kirk Cousins had his team in position for a game-winning field goal when he missed a wide-open receiver in the end zone and then threw one of the worst interceptions imaginable to let Notre Dame off the hook. What would the reaction have been if Notre Dame had lost that game, as it should have, to go 1-2?

FSU Gets Its Due: Time for me to admit Florida State, which throttled BYU in Provo, is better than I thought...and probably Miami, too. Each beat a ranked team last week and each, as a result, deserves a little closer look. ... Cal's Jahvid Best is the best running back I've seen in college football this season. ... Florida's 23-13 victory over Tennessee, frankly, was a disappointment, but certainly not as disappointing as the football played so far by Maryland (1-2) and Virginia (0-3). Both are dreadful.

By

Michael Wilbon

 |  September 21, 2009; 9:22 AM ET  |  Category:  College Football , NFL , Wilbits Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: The Wilbon Index: Top College Teams | Next: Chat House: The Addition

Comments

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Redskins: I agree with "Redmonds" on going for it on first down twice in one drive. If you get it...you look smart; if you don't get it...you look like J-Man. Other than that the "D" was still formidable (not Steel Curtainish) and J-Campbell extra effort to keep from getting the safety was the smartest play of the game!!!

NFL: Everyone in the NFL is prone to get gashed for yards, but the next few weeks will seperate a lot of contenders from pretenders. Aside from Peyton's heroics, the Wildcat can be a grind it out, you won't get too many possessions to score against type of offense when run like Miami's. Peyton we about to go crazy sitting on the bench with no one to throw to.

College Football: Watch out for the mid-Majors. There will be another upset like Wash over USC. One of the mid-Majors will be in contention for the BCS championship. I like Cincy's chances with the way their schedule works out.

Posted by: haycoach | September 22, 2009 8:48 AM
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I think the skins offense lacks two vital attributes: vision and urgency. For vision, a mission statement must be purported. My suggestion goes something like: "Pass often in order to run effectively." About the urgency issue; I'd say its damn close to "Project Ultimatum ZornStar." PUZ--> The entire team is notified that the next loss (i.e. the 3rd loss of the season) triggers the PUZ, IF that loss comes before October 15th. Upon initiating the PUZ, Zorn, Campbell, and any other underperformers will be relieved of their duties as Washington Redskins. This ultimatum will precipitate any remaining allegiance to the Zorn Administration to jump start the team and string together the much needed 5 game win streak.

Posted by: ejcrowde | September 22, 2009 7:06 AM
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If Zorn loses to Detroit.
MR. Snyder should fire him on the SPOT!!!
Mr. Snyder the time is now to go Rick James. I'm Danny Snyder B@TCH!
Don't even let him on the plane, buy a spare ticket on southwest airlines back to Seattle.
The guy messed up the team colors on his first interview. MMM.....
Remember when Danny gave it Nervous Norv in Dallas? YES!! I DO, I DO, I DO. Danny is a fan first. If I had his money - I would problably make mostly every move. That Right PERIOD.
Make the Deal MR Snyder. GRIMM, Steely McBeam or Shanahan or Chucky - give a little get a lot back.
Can you imagine Shanahan and Portis together again?
With a top notch coach who can make it work with what he has; or a guy who qoutes the House Bunny "I used all of my tricks but they did not seem to work". At least the housebunny listened to her smart friends (thanks Danny Smith for the timeout)and actually went with SUBSTANCE and TRICKS to get her man.

Mr. Snyder let Redskins fans remember THAT - You WILL and HAVE lit up a BS coach quick!!!
This is why I like Daniel Snyder.
Danny Spends. Danny tries hard. Put his money where his mouth is.
Albert, Santana, ARE,Orakpo.Rogers, Campbell, Cooley,Portis, SAmuels,Arrington. On and On.
Danny stays. Jason Stays Zorn goes.
Now Mr. Snyder now, please.

Light Zorn UP. Make it monumental, GET one of the NFL Head Coaches, better coaches. Then give a little and sit back, you will like what you see.

I have never seen a coach try to kill a QB and a team as Zorn is going after Campbell and the Skins. He defends his bad calls. The play calling is really bad.
No reasoning whatsoever in play calling.
Danny trade the number one now. Throw cash get a young proven G/C. Let Montgomery develop one more year. Or better yet fill in for the next o-line issue. Knock on Wood.
No receivers over six feet in the red zone after Kelly's drop. Play calling
Fred Davis can catch beeter than Sellers and has been practicing that also.
Marko Mitchell has not been given a chance.
DANNY! DANNY! DANNY! Go RICK JAMES on ZORN in the Motor City.

Posted by: zariah | September 21, 2009 10:06 PM
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The Redskin pass coverage is very weak thus we do not see much "coverage sacks". Opposing quarterback seems to find open receivers quickly thus the Redskin problem with 3rd and long. Redskins DBs provide too much cushion that wide receivers are not jammed before the 5 yards and therefore wideouts are successfully completing their routes in greater probability that the Redskins defense would like. A few years ago the coverage was suffering because of a lack of pass rush. Now it is the other way around. Both should be present for the Redskin defense to really be a force.

But discussions on Redskin defense are really miniscule to the myriad of problems with the offense. Earlier, the plan was to open up the running game with the pass but there is a glaring problem with Jason Campbellā€™s lack of accuracy with the deep pass. The Redskins offense needs a strong AND an accurate arm to really open the running game. We have yet to see this even during the pre-season.

Posted by: bcamins | September 21, 2009 4:24 PM
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im not upset about the skins going for it on 4th either...but to run the ball again...their running game is not good...and its even worse in the red zone and yet they keep trying to beat a dead horse. how about throwing the ball on first down in the red zone once and a while...its like to coaches (zorn and gibbs) think the oline is the best in the league...hello...our oline is our weekness...

and i think you forgot to mention that the defense still has a problem getting off the field on 3rd down. yes they were 4th in the leage last year and are improved this year...but for their 3 problems (getting off the field on 3rd down, sacks/pressue and turnovers...yeah they are getting a bit more pressureand they are getting more turnover optys but they are leaving turnovers on the field...but i have seen no change in their 3 down defense efficiency...

Posted by: deadskin | September 21, 2009 1:33 PM
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I think you might be a bit too harsh on the Skins. They moved the ball very nicely yesterday. Their red-zone efficiency will move towards the mean as the season progresses. FootballOutsiders had an article last year for ESPN which basically said that teams performance in the red zone is usually equivalent to their performance outside the red zone. Teams that overachieve usually regress towards the mean, and teams the underachieve usually improve towards the mean (however not as much as the overachieving teams).

The lack of points is a concern, but they also dominated the clock, and that drive in the 4th quarter took over 7 minutes off the clock, which was masterful. Going for it on 4th down as Redmonds mentioned was not a bad decision. Not making it left the Rams about 60-70 yards away from a field goal. Had they kicked the field goal, they would have kicked off, just say the rams returned it to the 30-40 yard line they would only be 60-70 yards from the end zone. Yes, those last yards are hard to get, but from a cost/benefit analysis, going for it was worth it because had the made it the game would be over and you leave less things up for chance. Last year the Skins were 10/16 on 4th down, so I would take those chances.

Posted by: tedunni1 | September 21, 2009 12:59 PM
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The Redskins very nearly snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Losing RT is going to hurt, before that Campbell had a ton of time.

If the skins can stop shooting themselves in the foot they might be 10-6.

Posted by: DCDave11 | September 21, 2009 12:41 PM
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I am not upset with the skins for going for it on 4th down. If you make the 1st you are good, and if you fail, you have the Rams pinned inside the 5 yard line. However to run around the edges, that was just foolish.

On the Va. Tech note, I think they are not deserving of a Top 15 ranking. The offense has looked HORRIBLE in the 2 games they have had. Alabama put it on them, and but for a busted coverage, Nebraska put it on them. They need to get much better very quickly.

How bout them Giants (not a fan, just anti-Dallas).

Posted by: redmonds | September 21, 2009 12:16 PM
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Dreadful is a compliment to "1" - 2 Maryland. I don't count an overtime win, at home, vs. ANY 1-AA team as win.

Posted by: BrokenClipboard | September 21, 2009 12:14 PM
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