Monday, November 5, 2007

At 5-3, Why Worry?

Following up on Bobtimist’s fine commentary on Clinton Portis’ resurgence and the means to keep it going, let’s look at countering naysayers who are pessimistic despite the Redskins’ win over the Jets.

The optimism-hating line of the week will be something akin to “they barely beat a terrible team.” This presumably takes the place of the recent discrediting attempt to the tune of “the Lions win was fraudulent because Detroit really stinks.” Well, Detroit is 6-2 and stuck 44 on the Broncos and their vaunted shutdown corners, and held their equally vaunted crazy successful running system to 47 yards. Somehow the Redskins withstood that high-flying Detroit offense and suffocating D, so let’s stop pretending that wasn’t a huge victory. With that win legitimized (and becoming important, if tiebreakers come up later on), detractors must find another outlet, and this OT win over a 1-win team would seem to be a fine candidate. Predictably, we disagree.

Reasons for optimism from yesterday, aside from the obvious huge positive of the win:

-We do not have to deal with the “they won because of the coin toss” detraction. The Skins lost the coin toss and had to face down the scary Jets’ offense to start the overtime. It looked bleak after that 39-yard gain pushed the ball into Skins’ territory, but the D, looking ripe for the vultures to jump on their somewhat subpar performance, stood up and didn’t even allow a field goal attempt.

-Santana Moss, despite limited output yesterday, showed us he is still capable of the big play, flying down the field in overtime and putting himself in prime position to catch a game-ending bomb. Only a slight overthrow by JC kept it from happening. But we can find a positive there, in that Santana looks to again be ready to haul in the long ones.

-Halftime adjustments, widely considered a glaring weakness of this year’s team, were brilliant, whatever they may have been. Maybe the Skins just needed to be losing by a little instead of leading by a little going into the half. Could Coach Joe finally be reviving his half-time-adjusting genius of years past? Perhaps even by getting angry at his team’s lack of effort in a first half against an inferior opponent? Combined with Glen Halon’s bench outburst on Thursday, maybe DC is getting a much-needed infusion of angry coach motivation.

- LaRon Landry is a quick learner. This has been evident all season long, as his contributions to the secondary undeniably have contributed to the lack of big bombs given up by the D this year. His specific lesson from yesterday was how not to destroy a QB. Following his 15-yard penalty for pummeling Kellen Clemens with his helmet, Landry continued to bring the blitz from the secondary, and on more than one occasion pulled up after the ball was thrown, still hitting Clemens, but not with the helmet-leading voraciousness that would draw a flag. Lesson learned, and another step taken on the road to being a true disciplined-yet-deadly safety.

- The coming-to-town Eagles looked utterly inept. McNabb threw INTs into triple coverage, the defense folded, and the fans were flabbergasted. Looking forward to seeing them on Sunday.

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