The Redskins make their 2008 regular season debut at FedEx Field this Sunday against the New Orleans Saints following a disheartening loss to the division rival New York Giants.
The loss brought about many questions regarding the team, specifically the offense and Jason Campbell’s grasp of the offense. While Campbell appeared indecisive and uncomfortable with the West Coast offense, the Redskins receivers failed to position themselves past the first down line to catch the ball during crucial third down conversions on many occasions. Another concern was the lack of urgency displayed by Campbell and the offense while trailing by nine points with just a few minutes remaining in the game.
The offense didn’t seem to adjust well, but the defensive unit was another story. The defense started off very slowly, allowing Giants quarterback Eli Manning to run for a touchdown on the Giants first offensive drive. The defense shifted gears by halftime and began to hold their ground, allowing zero points in the second half.
In the first half, Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress seemed to have a field day with the Redskins secondary. Specifically, cornerbacks Carlos Rogers and Fred Smoot, who appeared to be playing in loose zone coverage, leading to solid gains for the Giants. Following halftime, the defense stiffened up and did not allow any big plays to lead to points for the Giants.
“The reason we adjusted so well from the first half to the second half was based on [our] level of execution. As a defensive unit, we didn’t play with proper technique when it came to gap control in the run and the Giants took advantage of it. So that in itself was in our head. Play-by-play, we would have 10 players in the right spot and one guy misaligned or we would have seven players in the right place and four players misaligned. It was hit or miss. However we made less errors in the second half and were successful, but unsuccessful due to the outcome of the game,” Carter said.
Despite the defense’s second half turnaround, the overall performance of the unit was not what the team wanted.
“We didn’t play up to standards as a defense. We knew we were much better than that. As a team, day in and day out, we go on the field with the mentality to win. Now winning is hard in the NFL. You have to scratch, claw, and fight for every down and distance and as Joe Gibbs would say: ‘Earn every play.’ We didn’t win. The good side is, there are 15 more games to play,” Carter said.
This week, the Redskins face a dangerous New Orleans Saints team who will be without four starters including talented wide receiver Marques Colston and linebacker Scott Fujita. Despite the injuries, there is much to be worried about from a defensive standpoint having to face such an explosive offense that includes the likes of Brees, Bush, and newcomer Jeremy Shockey, the former New York Giants tight end.
“New Orleans is a new and improved team. They had a great battle against the Bucs this past Sunday, which was a good game by the way. Their defense is physical. They have a great linebacking core. The New Orleans offense is strong, with their quarterback who controlled the flow of the game this past Sunday, as well as Bush and Shockey making plays. This is a fast team,” Carter said.
Of the Saints explosive running back, Carter said, “The only way to stop Bush is by having 11 guys run to him when he has the ball [and] prevent him from making big plays because he is capable of creating opportunities for the New Orleans offense.”
The starting right defensive end further commented on the Saints offensive play makers: “[Brees] makes plays by staying in the pocket so, as a defensive line, the best way to get after him is through our pass rush. That’s the only level of success [the team can have] against him.”
Lastly, Carter commented on a dangerous playmaker Redskins fans know all to well.
“What makes [Shockey] dangerous to a defense is his ability to catch the ball at any given place or time. He is always hungry for the ball, so it’s important that we keep an eye out on him,” Carter said.
In order to get to New Orleans’ playmakers, Andre has to get past the New Orleans Saints offensive line, more specifically left tackle Jamaal Brown.
“The Saints offensive line is by far the best conditioned [in the NFL]. They have been known and seen to run downfield on screen plays and finishing opponents. They are fast and physical. Jamal Brown is a solid-body offensive tackle. He never stops his feet and is physical on the point of attack. It’s going to be a great battle,” Carter said, using the experience he and the rest of the defensive line had against the Saints in their Week 15 matchup in the 2006 season as a reference.
Following such a tough loss, the team is relieved to be playing in front of the home crowd for the first time this season.
“The team is looking positive and excited about playing at home. I love it. The die-hard fans screaming their lungs out, the cheers, the ‘awws, the ‘ohs’, and the ‘Smmooooooooooootttttttttttttttttts.’ I had to put that in. I have never played in a stadium that is as loud as FedExField. It’s home,” Carter said.
What does the team need to do in order to get their first victory of the season?
“This Sunday, we need to play Redskin football. That’s all that needs to be said,” Carter said.
Under The Helmet:
THN: Which do you prefer? MySpace or Facebook?
AC: I prefer Facebook. I think Facebook is more for family and friends. MySpace is more for networking. But what do I know? I don’t have an account with either. (Laughing)
THN: Who (besides your father) was your favorite football player growing up and why?
AC: I never watched football as a kid. There was no one that I really watched growing up or admired. I didn’t start actually watching pro football religiously till I left college.
THN: Did you want to be a football player when you were a kid? If not, what did you want to be and why?
AC: I had aspirations of being a basketball player, but since my sorry butt didn’t know how to shoot, I guess football was the next option. I guess I was considered more of a dunker/rebounder. Oh well. At least I tried.
THN: What career do you plan to pursue after your football career is over?
AC: I would like to be involved with my church, providing community outreach programs for troubled kids who need mentors to help guide them on the right path. Whatever the Lord tells me to do, then I will do when this game is over.
Edit: This blog was archived in May of 2016 from our original articles database.It was originally posted by Jake Russell