Detroit mustered a mere 144 yards of offense. John Kitna's QB rating took a massive plunge and the Lions didn't take a snap in Redskins territory until half of the third quarter was gone.
What the Redskins did defensively in a nutshell was to keep just seven in the box, daring the Lions to beat them with the run. When Kitna dropped back to pass, the Redskins didn't blitz, instead sending seven back into coverage.
It worked. The Lions couldn't run (although one has to wonder how things would have unfolded if Kevin Jones, who gained 48 yards on 11 carries, had been given more than zero carries in the first half). The vaunted Detroit receivers were blanketed for the most part. Although the front four didn't collapse the pocket immediately, when Kitna had to check down to his third and fourth options because everyone was covered, Andre Carter and company got to him.
We already saw a variation of it in Philadelphia, although the Redskins did blitz McNabb more than they did Kitna. Don't be surprised to see this game plan a lot more this season. Why play the Green Bay offense any differently? The Packers are #31 in the NFL in rushing offense. If Brandon Jackson or DeShawn Wynn beat you, you don't deserve to win.
I see Williams keeping seven in the box and daring the Pack to run. Bret Favre can scramble away from pressure, so why send the house after him? Keep tight coverage on the receivers, keep the safeties back to prevent the big play and wait for Favre to make a mistake or for a receiver to cough up the ball.
The Cardinals, who come to FedEx Field after the trip to Lambeau, do rank a little better in rushing than do the Packers (#18), but not enough to cause more than a minor adjustment to the Detroit blueprint.
After that, it's the Patriots and it doesn't seem like anything short of live artillery can stop them, but certainly it's wise to fear Tom Brady and Randy Moss more than Sammy Morris and Kevin Faulk.
And if the blueprint works there, why change it? The NFL is becoming more and more of a passing league. There are very few teams left on the Redskins' schedule who have a back capable of dominating a game. They face a bunch of good quarterbacks. If they don't let the QB's beat them, they should win more than their share of games.
Going for it
The play of the game was the 37-yard pass from Jason Campbell to Antwaan Randle El that gave the Redskins a first and goal inside the five. It's been little noted that the play happened on fourth and two. With the score 7-0, it was very uncharacteristic of Joe Gibbs to go for it in that situation and even more out of character for call a pass (although Al Saunders called the specific play, he and Gibbs undoubtedly discussed it during the preceding timeout).
After the Eagles game, I pointed out that it appeared that the old Joe Gibbs, the one who would take a calculated chance every once in a while, had come back. A spike and a couple of unimaginative running plays at the goal line against the Giants cooled such talk. Maybe the new/old Joe Gibbs is making another comeback.
Here is a review of the ten spot and how we did at predicting for the Lions game…