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FFAs Game Notes: Cowboys

By Mark Solway | September 18th, 2006

Ouch. Notable Stats 3rd Down Efficiency Cowboys – 6/16 Redskins – 2/14 While not as efficient as the Vikings last week, consider the following statistic: the Cowboys had 5 third down conversions on scoring drives. If the Redskins defense can’t get teams off of the field, then opposing offenses are going to be able to put together nice, long drives for scores. The effect of this is that the defense is both worn out and demoralized. Nevertheless, getting the Cowboys off the field would mean nothing unless our offense could put together some drives of its own. Last week seemed promising in some respects: the Skins could move the ball fairly well but would stall in the opponent’s red zone. This week the offense could barely stay on the field for more than 3 downs. Sacks Cowboys – 6 Redskins – 1 Going in to Week 2, Skins fans knew that pressuring Drew Bledsoe and protecting Mark Brunell would play a key role in this game (I know, I know, thank you Master of the Obvious. . .) Not only did Dallas get great pressure and penetration through our offensive line, but even when the Skins were able to buy Brunell time things didn’t seem to go well. Brunell himself wandered into at least a couple of sacks. He seems to drop back farther than he needs to sometimes, and the pocket forms about two yards in front of him. Instead of stepping up into the pocket, Brunell tends to move to one side or the other, and last night (on at least one occasion) that move put him into the arms of a Cowboy’s defender. There are sacks when a D-lineman makes a great move, there are coverage sacks when the wideouts are covered too well, and there are sacks when the quarterback wanders into one; the Redskins saw good examples of all three last night. Penalties Cowboys – 9 for 90 yds Redskins – 11 for 117 yds U-G-L-Y was the word of the day, as refs called a very tight game and the players seemed especially undisciplined. Some penalties of note against our secondary were an illegal contact that turned a 3rd down incompletion into a first down for Dallas and a pass interference call that gave them a 1st and goal. Then there was the 99 yard TD drive by Dallas in the 3rd and 4th quarters that was sprung by pass interference and facemask calls, aiding Dallas as they moved down the field in a mere 7 plays. Undisciplined games are miserable for everyone, even the team that’s on the better end of the calls most of the time. But nothing is worse than committing a football field’s worth of mistakes. On a curious sidenote, Jansen seemed to have a great feel for when to commit penalties last night. 2 false starts on third down cancelled what appeared to be an incomplete pass and an interception. The results were called no-plays, and the Skins were given another chance to convert the third down. (They didn’t). In addition, Jansen was almost called for a hold, but the defender slipped through well enough that the calling was overruled by the head official. On that same play (an incomplete pass), the Cowboy’s defense committed a penalty that gave the Redskins a first down. Had Jansen’s hold been better executed, the penalties would have likely cancelled out. Other Notes * Adam Archuleta can’t seem to find his rhythm in this defense. Of any player on defense he may have had the worst game last night. One botched coverage, when Archuleta bit on a playaction fake, left Lemar Marshall to guard Terry Glenn deep down the middle of the field. The result? TD, Cowboys. * The Skins’ other big signing on defense, Andre Carter, is also struggling. Granted, his first two games were against a pair of huge (McKinnie at 6-8 335 and Adams at 6-7 340) tackles. . .but this is the NFL. Being small for a DE isn’t an excuse for a lack of production. Carter was decent against the run at several points but has yet to show anything in terms of pass rush. We may see Greg Williams adjust by moving him around and possibly having him stand up as an outside linebacker. Renaldo Wynn, the man Carter has replaced, could at least take up space a little more efficiently. * Chris Cooley continues to have a very frustrating start this season. Last night he recorded one or two bad block, a couple of dropped passes, and seemed to have trouble getting open. But even when he was open. . . * We have yet to see any serious production from our WRs. Brandon Lloyd has disappeared since his amazing diving catch in preseason. Randle El has shown some life on punt returns but hasn’t yet been the possession receiver that the Skins are looking for. Moss leads our production for WRs still, but is nowhere near the level of performance that made him a star last year. It is possible that the wideouts were simply smothered last night, as Brunell would sometimes have plenty of time to throw but couldn’t seem to find anyone that was open. But it’s also possible that. . . * Brunell had his worst game in 2 seasons last night. There is simply too much to go into, but it is clear that the pressure will be on Gibbs this week to switch QBs. Whether or not Jason Campbell gives us the best chance to win next week is unclear, but something about this offense is keeping it from clicking and performing well. * All hail special teams performers Derrick Frost, John Hall, and Rock Cartwright. Frost and Hall put in performances that spoke volumes about each (with punts and kickoffs, respectively). Rock Cartwright is going to do well on special teams this year (I was wondering why he had replaced Betts). His low center of gravity seems to be what let him shake the kicker’s tackle and break the 100-yard return for a TD. Betts performed admirably as a kick-returner last year, but let’s hope that Rock can be a spark plug. (Now we just need an offense to be sparked!) * Not much to say about the running game. It simply doesn’t seem to be a central strategy to the Skins’ attack this year. With Portis in there were fewer than 25 runs total, and with Betts in there were fewer than 20. Duckett looked good when given the ball, although he seems to pick a route and then stick with it even when there appear to be cutback lanes at times. Betts ran hard and performed well given the circumstances, but obviously the Skins will benefit greatly once Portis is back in the game….

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