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FFAs Game Notes: Vikings

By Mark Solway | September 12th, 2006

Yesterday was the kind of loss where I want to bury my head in the sand for the next 4 days so as to miss all highlights and game summaries. A tough night to be a Skins fan, but (as always) every cloud has a silver lining. On to the game notes: Notable Stats 3rd down efficiency : Vikings 9-17 (53%) Redskins 4-13 (31%) The Skins D was rather unreliable on 3rd downs no matter the distance. Brad Johnson seemed to be able to pick us apart on 3rd and 5+, and Chester Taylor could usually get one or two yards past the line of scrimmage before he was even touched. Passing Brad Johnson 16/30, 233 yds., 1 TD Mark Brunell 17/28, 163 yds., 0 TD Brunell had an average to good game, managing the ball well and not making many mistakes. Both QBs had to throw away several balls, showing their patience and vision. However, Brad Johnson made probably only one or two mistakes–the both of which were nearly intercepted by the Skins (and probably could have been, if only there weren’t for 2 or 3 defenders converging on the ball and knocking it down). Other than those two passes, Johnson’s throws were on the money, away from the defenders, and perfectly timed to hit the soft spots in Washington’s zone defense. Had his number one wideout, 1st round pick Troy Williamson, held on to 2 passes that hit him in the hands, his stats would look even better. (Luckily for Washington, and Carlos Rodgers in particular, Williamson dropped those two additional long bombs). Mark Brunell tends to stare his receivers down, and it showed last night when Vikings cornerbacks were able to jump on a receiver or two. He looked more comfortable on short passes than he did in the preseason–his quick-slant to Randel El was a play that was attempted several times in August but never worked. It’s a good sign that timing is getting there, and I look forward to the day when the Brunell quick-slant pass works as well as it used to in St. Louis with Kurt Warner. Offensive Plays Vikings – 64 Redskins – 53 Last night, when the Vikings took the field, it felt like they would never get off. Not only would Brad Johnson be a shrewd field general, making efficient passes and few mistakes, but the Vikings would also (as mentioned) convert most of their 3rd down attempts. The Skins matched styles fairly well, but kudos to the Vikings for excellent field management. 64 plays will wear down just about any defense, and for Minnesota this meant valuable clock time eaten up in the 4th quarter. Other Notes * The Redskins had 4 trips to the redzone, 1TD, and 3 field goals. Enough said. . . * Watch out for Randel El on punt returns this year. He twists and turns more than the traditional return-man (perhaps to his detriment), but he has the patience and vision to make some great decisions. He also has a knack for making people miss, something that is difficult to teach but valuable to have in a return man. Since he’s used to big games and big pressure, expect him to have solid hands when it comes to catching balls. * Minnesota’s early missed extra point turned out to be huge in a game that came down to a three point difference. Had the holder made a better play after their first touchdown, the Skins would have been looking at 35-yard shots toward the end zone instead of relying on Hall for a 47 yard field goal attempt at the end of the game. * Hall has really broken the hearts of Skins fans. He’s a likeable character but Derrick Frost seems to do as well (if not better) on kickoffs. . .and that’s saying something. Just a few years ago Hall nailed a 33-yarder with five seconds left to defeat the Jets on the Skins’ opener. Last night his longest field goal was from 27 yards out. * Saunders’ new offense had some tantalizing moments but failed to deliver as much as most fans were probably hoping for. The longest passing play for the Skins, a 37 yard connection with Moss, was but one moment of downfield excitement that accented an otherwise short-pass, conservative attack. The swing passes last night looked good, however, and the Redskins are now starting to run a wide receiver screen from a trips formation. In the screen, Brunell throws to the receiver in the slot, as the other two WRs standing nearby get out on their blocking assignment. The extra room lets the receiver make some moves (and hopefully shed the first tackler)–watch to see how they can get Moss some space with this play later in the year….

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