Redskins Recap: Redskins 16 Dolphins 13

How much we take from the Skins game today is a bit unclear.  What’s most important is that they won a very hard fought game against a team with a very good defense – at least based on past performance – and an offense that has the potential to be better than last year.  One game does not give a good indication of how a team will play over an entire season, but there were plenty of encouraging signs.  Here were a few things that I was impressed with:

  • Jason Campbell through a bad interception at the beginning of the game (and two overall), came back to make some big completions in a very tight game.
  • It was refreshing to see the Skins throw the ball down the field, which will continue to make things easier for the running game, and vice versa.  How nice it is to have a QB who can actually throw it further than 7 yards.
    Samuels played very well considering that he did not play during the pre-season.  He and Kendall look like they are going to prove to be a great combination on the left side of the line.
  • Stephon Heyer continues to prove critics wrong.  Called in to play due to Jansen’s possible season-ending injury and switching back to his natural RT position, the UFA played a great game.  While it has been pointed out that some (unnamed) scouts believe that he is not yet ready for the NFL, in a game in which the final score counted, he played well enough not to stand out.  If you have watched enough football and/or played it you know that an offensive lineman normally only stands out when they give up a negative play.
  • It appears that Clinton did not need to play in the pre-season after all!  And with him and Betts combining for over 140 yards rushing that production will only make Campbell’s job throwing the ball that much easier.
  • And while the defense gave up a little more yards then they would have probably liked, given that they were put in some short-field situations, they actually continued the type of play that they have demonstrated during the pre-season.  They gave up some yards in the passing game, but were able to hold the Dolphins to 13 points.

Moss, and many of his colleagues in the NFL, dropped way too many passes today.  (It was amazing to see the number of dropped passes today.  At times it was as if we were watching the first pre-season game.)  The biggest drop was by the Smoot-mobile, who had nothing but open field in front of him near the end of regulation.  Thankfully that drop did not come back to cost the team.  Speaking of Smoot, while he had a fairly good overall game, I’m sure others were surprised that he started over Springs.  Correct me if I am wrong, but Springs was clearly the starter following pre-season, but was only brought into the game during nickel situations????  What was this about?

Carol Maloney and Trevor Matich got carried away

I was listening to the Feldman & Maloney show on Sportstalk980, when I heard some of the most ridiculous statements that I have heard in a very long time. First let me put out my disclaimer – I was born and raised a Steelers fan, but I have followed (and grown to love) the Redskins for the last 11 years. So I am pointing out that I have divided loyalties. It made watching the game on Saturday very difficult, I didn’t know who to cheer for. But I digress.

 

Carol Maloney said that she felt Brett Keisel’s hit on Jason Campbell was a cheap shot and he should have been ejected from the game. She went on to point out that she believed that it was Keisel’s, if not the Steelers, intention to hurt Campbell. I was amazed at what I was hearing. She continued by pointing out Kimo von Oelhoffen’s hit on Carson Palmer during the 2005 playoffs as proof that the Steelers have some sort of history with injuring opposing team’s Quarterbacks.

 

First let me point out that there is little that the two plays have in common except that both players (Kimo and Brett) have very high motors and play until the whistle is blown. When Kimo hit Palmer, he was being blocked just before he made contact with Palmer’s lower legs. Brett quickly got around Heyer but then stumbled in the backfield, lunged as he was going down and made contact with Campbell’s thigh. It was unfortunate that Jason got injured during the play, but it was not an intentional act. It was amazing how quiet FedEx Field got during the injury timeout. (BTW I and others could not believe that they never showed the replay on the stadium screens.)

 

But beyond Maloney’s rant – which she is entitled to – however misinformed it is. I was completely shocked that Trevor Matich, a former NFL player, would agree with her opinion. Trevor went on to state that Keisel was not stumbling, that he could have absolutely controlled his body – during flight – that he could have just put his arm out. I could not believe I was hearing a former NFL player. He then went on to say that if he were coaching the Redskins defense that he would have sent everyone after Rothlisberger. Since Campbell got injured, on a dirty play, then he would have made sure that Big Ben was sidelined for the rest of the year. The only person on the show who seemed to have a sensible opinion on the matter was Andy Pollen who was sitting in for Feldman.

 

Keisel and Campbell

 

Those of us who have watched football for any length of time and/or played it at any meaningful level know that it is a dangerous sport and that at any moment you can get injured. Thankfully it appears that Jason’s injury is not serious. My point to Maloney or Matich would have been – show me evidence that this was intentional? Furthermore, what would the Steelers have gotten out of this “intentional cheap shot?” What would they have to gain? The last I checked the Redskins are in the NFC and the Steelers play in the AFC. The Steelers would gain nothing from intentionally injuring Campbell. I could follow the logic IF it were the Cowboys and the Redskins in a pre-season game. Then you could make the argument that the Cowboys would gain something from Campbell being injured.

 

As part of Matich’s argument he points out that a penalty was called on the play for hitting the QB during a pass below the waist. A flag in and of itself does not make a play dirty. Hell, there are times when cheap shots are not caught by the refs by his line of logic does that mean those plays were legal? What I find interesting in the replay is that the flag does not actually come in to the picture until after Cooley has caught the pass, turned up field and gets tackled. Now, I am not pointing out that it wasn’t a penalty, by the letter of the rule it was. And on the replay I have you can not see where the Umpire is in relation to the play, so maybe he through it much earlier and it took a while for it to make it into view of the camera. But I am pointing out that it appeared as if it took him a while to decide that was a low tackle – but at least he did get the call right. But consider that it appeared that there was some indecision on the part of the Umpire but clearly he did not think that it was a dirty play or he would have ejected him from the game.

 

After watching the play in person and countless times on Tivo, I can only conclude that Maloney and Matich’s comments were completely baseless and a touch reckless. It is okay to be a bit upset with the fact that the starting Quarterback got injured during a meaningless game, but unless you have clear proof that someone intended to injury him, don’t go on record claiming that they did. I have seen plenty of cheap shots over the years, and I do not put that play in that category. Unfortunate yes, cheap shot no!

 

Stephon Heyer: Titan pre-season game recap

It appeared that overall Stephon Heyer, an undrafted Rookie free agent tackle with the Redskins had a solid pre-season debut.  Arguably one could say that he had a better debut with the Skins then his line mate Todd Wade.  It would be very interesting to see how Coach Bugel graded each player, but through watching non-game tape Heyer appeared to have a solid game for a rookie making his first start in the NFL at left tackle.

Now while there were times in which backs and tight ends chipped to his side, overall he seemed to perform more than adequately.  There were a couple of occasions that it was tough to tell if he blew an assignment, someone else blew their assignment, or the Titans defense just had the right blitz called at the correct time.  On those two blitzes, it did not appear that he was out of place – blocking someone else’s man for instance.  But, without knowing the exact call and who has what responsibility it is nearly impossible to assign blame – if there is any blame to assign.

In retrospect, it is easy to see why the coaches like this kid.  If anything, I am surprised that no one took a shot on him late in the draft.  There will be plenty of late round draft picks who will get cut over the next couple weeks, and here is a guy who will clearly make the active roster.  It makes you wonder about what all of the teams in the NFL, including the Redskins, didn’t like about this guy to invest a 7th round pick on him (at the least).  If nothing else, his performance demonstrates that scouting is not an exact science – hell one of the Redskins greats Joe Jacoby was an undrafted free agent during a time when there were many more rounds in the draft.  Now, I am not suggesting that Heyer will be a Jacoby, I am pointing out that scouts can and do miss a few talented people.  And sometimes there are a few people whose drive is larger than their talent.