Wednesday, October 6, 2010 4:30 PM
By Rich Tandler
The Redskins did not rush Kevin Kolb any differently than they did Michael Vick. Michael Vick and Kevin Kolb are two very different quarterbacks. Vick is mobile and will tuck the ball under his arm and run. Kolb prefers to throw from the pocket and rarely runs. Vick has a rifle arm and likes to go downfield. Kolb is an accurate passer who is more comfortable throwing shorter range, traditional West Coast patterns. One would think that a defense should attack the two quarterbacks differently. However, after Vick left the game near the end of the first quarter with the Redskins leading 14-0 (the Eagles kicked a field goal two plays after Vick left to make it 14-3), Jim Haslett did not make any major changes to the Redskins' pass rush. Vick dropped back to pass nine times, threw seven passes, and ran twice, counting the one run that was negated by a penalty which, coincidentally, turned out to be his last play. According to my analysis from my recording of the game, the Redskins rushed three defenders twice and rushed four on the other seven plays. Against the three-man rush, Vick had one completion for no gain and one incompletion. With four rushing, Vick ran twice, gaining three yards and losing the long scramble on the penalty, and completed six-of-seven passes for 49 yards. After Vick was injured, the Redskins continued to rush Kolb as much as they had Vick. For the remainder of the first half, with the Redskins holding a 17-3 lead, Haslett sent four players on each of Kolbs nine pass attempts, one of which was negated by a penalty. He completed seven of them, six during the drive that led to a field goal just before halftime that cut the Washington lead to 17-6. For a moment, it looked like Haslett had installed some halftime adjustments as Kolb threw incomplete in the face of a five-man rush on his first attempt of the third quarter. But that would turn out to be the one and only time that the Redskins sent more than four players the entire game. After that, there were four three-man rushes, and four defenders rushed on the rest of the plays. It seems that Haslett was going with the if it aint broke, dont fix it philosophy of coaching. The Eagles offensive strength all year had been long passes to wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. The game plan was to try to take them out of the game and use seven or eight defensive backs to help in doing so. Since the Redskins held a double-digit lead for most of the game, there really was no reason to risk Jackson or Maclin shaking free. The formula of a straight pass rush and extra help in the secondary was sound both before and after Vick left the game. Donovan McNabb wasnt the only former Eagle returning to Philly. Artis Hicks broke into the NFL with the Eagles when he made the roster as an undrafted free agent in 2003. He spent his first three NFL seasons there, starting 31 regular-season games and more in the playoffs including Super Bowl XXXIX against the Patriots. The Eagles traded him to the Vikings in a draft day deal in 2006, and he played in Minnesota from then until the Redskins acquired him as a free agent. Compared to McNabbs, Hicks return to play his original NFL team was about as far under the radar as it could be. That was fine with Hicks. A lot of good memories there, but to me it was just another game, said Hicks. Donovan had a little bit more invested there. He played 11 years there so it was a little bit different with me. I saw some friends that Ive maintained over the years. Other than that, it was just another game for me. Hicks only played during the Redskins first three possessions. He was feeling ill before the game, and he started feeling worse as the game went on. It got to where I had no energy and was just feeling terrible, Hicks said. I did what I could. It was a big game, an emotional game. I definitely wanted to be there for Donovan and help him out so that he could have a good showing. Unfortunately, I wasnt able to finish. If the Redskins ran more plays, they would be among the league leaders in offense. The Redskins have averaged 6.0 yards per play this year. That is fourth in the league. They are behind the Chargers, Texans, and Colts in that category and just ahead of the Cowboys. Those are considered to be among the elite offenses in the league. However, the Redskins are in the middle of the pack when it comes to total yardage. They are 17th in the league with 328.2 yards per game. If you think through the math, its apparent that the Redskins arent running as many offensive plays as most teams. They have run 219 offensive plays this year. That ranks 24th among the 28 teams that have played four games. It is only 12 more than the Buffalo Bills, who have one of the worst offenses in the league. For that matter, its only 20 more than the Cowboys have run, and they have played only three games. There are a few things in play here. One is that the Redskins have made many big plays. They have nine plays of 30 yards or more, among the tops in the league. The quicker you get the ball down the field, the fewer plays you will run. Also, the Redskins offense was skewed towards the pass in the first three games. In those games the Redskins passed 102 times and ran 57. The Redskins averaged about 7 yards a pass and four yards per run. Again, math will tell you that they should be gaining more yards per play if they pass more. The Redskins flipped their run-pass ratio against the Eagles, running 65 percent of the time (35 runs, 19 passes). They ran 55 plays compared to 50 against the Rams (17 rush attempts), 58 in the overtime loss to the Texans (17 rushes) and 56 in the opener against Dallas (23 rushes). Moss has forgotten about bad game in Green Bay The last time the Redskins played the Packers was in Week 6 of the 2007 season. Santana Moss had a day to forget. The Redskins were leading 14-10 in the third quarter. Moss took the ball on an end-around and cut upfield. When he was tackled, the ball popped loose and Green Bay cornerback Charles Woodson scooped it up and rolled 57 yards for a touchdown. On the Redskins ensuing possession, Jason Campbell launched a deep sideline pass to Moss, who was wide open. But Moss dropped the ball. Visibly upset, Moss pulled himself from the game and the Redskins lost 17-14. After the game, Moss blamed himself for the loss. Asked if he thought of Sundays game against the Packers as a chance to make up for that performance, Moss said no. Theres no making up, he said. Things like that happen. On a wet field, sloppy grass, it happens. Its football. You dont let this stuff get bigger than it really is. Youre going to have games where you dont catch the ball. Youre going to have games where you dont play your best. Thats why you play 16 games. One of those games, youre going to play better, and its going to come back. Youre going to have a chance to win a game. Thats the life of a playmaker, Moss said. A look at the Packers by the numbers Earlier this week, speaking of Packers coach Mike McCarthys propensity to throw the ball, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel beat writer Greg Bedard joked on Twitter that McCarthy would throw 50 times in the Hoth System, referring to a fictional Star Wars planet with a particularly cold and generally inhospitable environment. That is the popular perception of McCarthy and the Green Bay offense, and it is well earned. But this year on Earth, McCarthy has taken a more balanced approach to his play selection. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has thrown 122 passes while the Packers have run 96 times, making for a very standard ratio of 56 percent passes. This is somewhat surprising in light of the fact that the Packers lost Ryan Grant, the teams leading rusher last year, to an injury during the first game. Brandon Jackson, his replacement, has averaged 3.0 yards a carry. But that hasnt prompted McCarthy to fill the air with footballs. In fact, Rodgers attempted just 17 passes last week. In some games he throws that many in a quarter. The Packers ran just 40 plays as they held on to beat the Lions 28-26 in a performance that left them underwhelmed. "Doesn't feel like a win, does it?" McCarthy rhetorically asked the media after the game. Green Bay took a 28-14 lead over the Lions on a 48-yard interception return for a touchdown by Woodson. He scored three touchdowns on interception returns last year, earning Defensive Player of the Year honors. The Packers were a team of ball hawks last year, intercepting 30 passes. They have five so far this year.
You can reach Rich by email atRTandlerCSN@comcast.net.Sendhimyourquestionsforourweeklymailbagfeature.
Rich Tandler has beenfollowing the Redskins since 1966. He has written three books on theteam includingGutCheck,TheGloryDaysofCoachJoeGibbsWashingtonRedskins1981-1992. Fordetails on this and on Richs other available titles, visitwww.RichTandler.com.