FFAs Game Notes: Jaguars

Washington Commanders

This game played far closer than it should have, according to the stats. Of course, the stats don’t show the kind of danger that Leftwich posed in the fourth quarter, slinging his way down the field and picking the Redskins’ secondary apart in the process. Since stats don’t tell the whole story, let me express what every Redskins fan is already thinking: “Hail to the Redskins! Hail Victory! Braves on the warpath–Fight for old D.C.!” Ahh, it doesn’t get much better than this. On to the game notes: Notable Stats Rushing Yards Skins – 152 Jags – 33 Coming into the game, Jacksonville only allowed opponents an average of 59 yard rushing per game, and did not allow a 100+ yard runner. Clinton Portis and Ladell Betts rolled behind a mobile offensive line and ate up huge chunks of yardage per carry. By setting up a running game early and sticking with it, Gibbs, Saunders, &co. went into the final stages of the game with a 2-pronged attack. Jacksonville, on the other hand, was smothered in every sense of the word. They did not lack the talent for a good running game, having 2 dangerous backs and a respected line; however, the Skins gave up nothing on the ground. The Jaguar’s backs combined for 33 yards and averaged (get this) 2.2 yards per carry . Jacksonville ran only 1 running play in the fourth quarter and 3 running plays in the second half. The Skins’ dominance on the ground is really what allowed them to control the pace of the game. The Redskins had 11 first downs on running plays (the Jags had 2). With successful running on 1st and 2nd down, the Skins also made 3rd down easier on themselves and converted 7 of 13 third down situations (Jags: 2-13). Washington beat Jacksonville in time of possession by over 10 minutes and ran out the clock when it counted in the fourth quarter. Washington ran 70 total plays to Jacksonville’s 54. In the end, the Skins had 40 rushing attempts to the Jaguars 15. Quaterback Comparison Mark Brunell – 18/30, 329 yds, 3 TDs, 1 INT Byron Leftwich – 21/35, 289 yds, 3 TDs, 1 INT Brunell and Leftwich, formerly the center-point for controversy in Jacksonville, had nearly identical games according to the stats–right down to each having exactly a 60% completion percentage! Given that the Jaguars running attack had disappeared by the second half, Leftwich was given the burden of gunning his way to a Jax victory. Leftwich gave Skins fans ulcers as he moved down the field at alarming rates in the 4th quarter. One drive, responding to a Skins TD, was a 4 play, 84 yard, touchdown drive with impeccable throws on the part of Byron. Leftwich also took his team 44 yards on 11 plays in the final 2 minutes–including a conversion on 4th and 8–to put his team in field goal position. The Jags faltered only on a couple of plays that were a combination of poor throws and drops by their receivers. Brunell scared Redskins’ nation pretty well by making his first pass an interception on a botched flea-flicker. After the initial hiccup, however, Mark took control of the offense and made few mistakes for the rest of the game. Brunell worked the ball downfield more than last week as well, managing throws of 68 and 55 yds on TD passes to Moss, a 34 yd. pass to Cooley, a 33 yd. pass to Lloyd, and a 19 yd. pass to Randle El. When was the last game (aside from Houston) when Brunell had comparable stats to tonight’s win? Check and judge for yourself, but I’m going to throw out Week 10 in Tampa, and perhaps even Week 7 in San Francisco. Oh, and did I mention that the Jags were ranked #3 in defense (after playing Dallas, Indy, and the Steelers) coming into Sunday? Sacks Skins – 4 Jaguars – 0 Not only did the Skins prevent heartache by protecting Mark Brunell (i.e. the lost yards and momentum, the disruption of confidence and timing in the passing game, etc.), but they also shook up Byron Leftwich on several occasions and managed 4 sacks tonight. The defensive line in particular began to apply pressure on their own, getting 3 sacks of their own, and Andre Carter finally looked dangerous on the pass rush, getting a sack of his own. Archuleta was able to time a blitz perfectly and brought down Leftwich on a 2nd and 10. At least 2 of the sacks can also be attributed to the coverage of our secondary. There were times when Leftwich kept holding onto the ball and looking for an open man (to no avail), which gave the line enough time to bring him down. Our passing game has now taken off, being built on the foundation of a solid running game and excellent protection. The sky will be the limit (even for Brunell!) if both of our lines can continue their success. Other Notes * I have been scanning page after page of stats trying to find one that exemplifies exactly how the Jaguars–with no rushing attack, a battered QB, and a 15% third down conversion rate–were able to make this game so close. I’ve concluded that, like all winning teams, the Jags were simply able to find a way, any way, to make ends meet. Even after the Redskins made the score 27-17 in the 4th quarter, Leftwich gave a phenomenal effort, bringing his team back on 2 stunning drives and using the talents of Reggie Williams in particular to gut the Skins’ secondary. Good teams simply find ways to win a close game. . .and, fortunately for Redskins fans, this was true of Washington tonight. Kudos to the Jags for their efforts, but (in my opinion) it only goes to show how much the Skins wanted this one. * Our o-line dominated once again. Nearly every stat speaks of their greatness as a unit. Portis and Betts looked great behind the pulling, rumbling guards and tackles en route to 149 yards of rushing. Brunell, almost always having time to throw, was never sacked and found Moss for 3 TD passes. You’ll see a lot of talk about Moss, Portis, or Brunell this week (and rightly so), but all of this was made possible by the Dirt Bags, or the Hogs, or whoever they are. * Marcus Washington blitzed on one play and found himself with a lane toward the quarterback just around the RB who was positioned to block in the middle. Instead of moving to the outside, however, Washington engaged the RB head on. . .and Evans came around the same side (on a stunt) and sacked the quarterback. I haven’t watched the tape, and I have no special knowledge, but I wonder if Washington didn’t engage the running back on purpose in hopes that he might clear up room for the defensive end to make a play. On one of Jacksonville’s final rushing attempts, a sweep to the left side, Washington penetrated to the fullback and threw his body into the blockers. The disruption caused Fred Taylor to hesitate, and he was swallowed up by Redskin defenders. . .including Washington, who had managed to get back up and still make a play. * Last year the media-heat was laid on Portis, who hadn’t score a touchdown going into Week 6. Portis responded by scoring 3 touchdowns as the Redskins trounced the 49ers. This year, Moss had experienced some frustrations as the offense has worked to establish itself. He hadn’t found the endzone going into Week 4, but responded with 3 TDs and 138 yards, including the game-winning reception in OT. * Rock Cartwright had 5 returns for 150 yards–that’s a lot of field position that he’s giving to our offense. Rock almost broke one of his returns and looked solid on all special teams today. I should start a “Rock Watch” stat, because he is going to be an important player in our success this year. * After a Skins rushing play, the announcers noted that the Jaguars’ defensive tackle had been double teamed and pushed 10 yards off of the line of scrimmage. Rabach, Jansen, and Thomas were routinely making blocks 3-6 yards off of the line of scrimmage after pulling. How is that for some smash-mouth football?…

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