What a nice, professional football win against a good team. Yes, it could have been bigger without some key penalties, especially Stephon Heyer’s pointless hit to call back Devin Thomas’ big TD score. But all three phases of the game were very solid. Let’s take a look around:
The Special Teams
Jz gave Durrant Brooks an ear full after the missed 52 yarder, but the replay showed nothing unusual or difficult about the hold. The speed and angle didn’t allow me to see where the laces were, but beyond that, I can’t imagine what the complaint was.
Otherwise, the special teams locked down pretty well after poor perforamces last week. Brooks boomed a 56 yarder with good hang time, and in general, the punts were longer and higher. Suisham’s 48 yarder was refrshing given our problems kicking. The coverage was solid if not spectacular. Between our good coverage and several holding penalties, the Cards started many of their drvies inside the 20. Punt coverage was slightly shakier, but several longish Cardinal run backs were called back from penalties. Of course, only on film can you tell whether the coverage would have been better had there not been penalties.
I have to say, I was taken aback by how easily they ran on us. They averaged 5 yards per carry. On the other hand, we allowed less than 200 yard passing, contained the plays in front of us for the most part, and the success rushing may very well have been because we decided to play the pass first.
Jason Taylor had his second quiet game, but the DTs put pressure on the QB for the second straight week. I have a feeling this is related to the attention the defense has to pay to Taylor. I plan on looking for that more in the next couple of games to see if I’m right.
Let’s give Shawn Springs a lot of credit. He held Anquan boldin to three catches for 25 yards. That’s a heck of a showing. On the other side, Smoot and Rogers has some difficulty with Fitzgerald, but the long pass is really on Reed Doughty (can I just say how much I hate Doughty?) who didn’t do his job and stay deep. He bit on the inside move. Admittedly, the pass still would have gone for 25 had Doughty stayed back, but he’d have prevented the TD which is his job. In general, I should also say, Fitzgerald did the most damage when we were playing zone. When we were man to man, we were having more success.
But overall, this was a solid defensive performance. This was the first time in 8 games the Cardinals scored less than 20 pts. That’s a nice job.
Of course, some of the credit for that goes to an offense that held the ball very well. The Skins put together three 6 minute drives, and didn’t turn over the ball. Zorn’s play calling is getting more and more interesting. I loved his play action pass to Cooley that iced the game. I also loved the amount of play action and planned roll outs they did. They really allowed for Cambpell to use a little more of his athleticism.
Campbell’s patience was exemplary and I don’t recall him making a single pass that had me concerned for an INT. On occassion, there were tipped passes and such, but I would say that these were more good plays by the defense rather than poor throws. The only poor throw was a deep pass into double coverage on the first play after we gave up a big one. I have a feeling that was designed to try to kill the Cardinals momentum.
Portis ran hard and well, and as I suspected, they were tough yards. I’m wondering why we aren’t letting Betts on the field a bit more. He doesn’t seem to be playing well when he gets on the field and I think some of that is that he is losing his rhythm. With Portis playing well, I suppose it doesn’t matter, but I’d hate to see CP wear down.
And let’s give a shout out to Devin Thomas. Two offensive pass interference penalties were less than stellar, and he did very little to break open on the long TD that was called back (didn’t I say Hood could bite on moves?) but it was obvious he was being used much more in the game. The end around was excellent, and he was wide open on a deep play on 3rd and short where Campbell understandably went to Moss for a first down. While he is still raw, there is clearly some talent there that we will see becoming more of this offense as the season goes on.
Again, a solid performance by the offense. All three teams played solid, if not spectacularly, against a good, hard playing, healthy, well-coached team. In a way, this win is bigger than the Saints game given their injuries. And I believe we escaped it injury free. And now what?
Well, we’re probably going to go to 2-3. I don’t mean to be a bummer, but I just don’t see that this team is ready to go into to Dallas to beat the Cowboys or Philly to beat the Eagles. I’m not saying we don’t have a chance. I think maybe a 30% chance against either one of them. But I really have a bone to pick with the schedule makers who thought it was ok to let us play 3 of our first 5 games on the road against our division. But anyway, after that we have the Rams. So, if we come out of the first six games 3-3, I think that is the kind of thing we can build on for a 9-7 or 10-6 season.
If the Giants keep screwing around against the likes of the Bengals or McNabb inevitably gets hurt, that should be enough for a wild card.
I don’t know about you guys, but I think this team looks like it already has a better offensive scheme than it had under Gibbs part deux, and Zorn is only getting better at play calling. If this team continues to put out hard fought, professional football games, we’re going to be ok. Even with the losses coming up (I know, I’m sorry, I’m a bummer), I’m pretty excited about the future of this football team. I feel like we may finally have the pieces in place for consistent winning. Hail Skins!