Not that I'm one to talk, but Ryan Plackemeier
should either drop a few dozen pounds or wear a looser jersey. I know punters aren't real football players, but he looks like the guy at the mall who thinks he's ripped and wears too-tight shirts but the bulges are flab, not muscle. His punt was OK, just OK. He didn't shank one that let the other team score a field goal without needing a first down as his predecessor did last week, so I guess that represents an improvement.
· On several occasions London Fletcher
did exactly what you have to do to stop a big back. He got to Jamal Lewis
in the backfield and hit him low. Lewis didn't always go down right away but he wasn't able to get any momentum and he was tackled quickly. Some of Lewis' best gains came on a toss sweep, away from the middle of the line and Fletcher.
· There was some puzzling clock management at the end of the first half. The Redskins had the ball at their own 33 with 2:28 left in the half. Portis ran for seven and the team dawdled as the clock ran down to 2:00. Portis then broke loose for 20 to the Cleveland 40 and still there was no sense of urgency. The next snap came with 1:16 left. After a pass to Moss gained six, there was another leisurely huddle and then a snap with 41 seconds left. With 35 seconds left, the Redskins called their first timeout. They nearly ran out of time, but they were able to get a field goal attempt off on the last play of the half. Zorn said that he didn't want the Browns to have any time left to be able to score. Given that Cleveland hadn't even sniffed the Red Zone all half, I'm not sure why that was such an overriding concern.
· As of halftime, Portis had outgained the entire Browns team, 75 yards to 59.
· Shaun Alexander
got a few touches in his debut. He told me that he was working off of a very limited package of running plays. As he stood in the locker room, his Redskins hat was so new that it still had the size sticker on the bill.
· What's striking about Portis' running is that he gains yardage without the offensive line blowing the defense into the backfield snap after snap. The energy is focused on opening a hole and it doesn't have to be a very big one for Portis to slip through for five yards. It's not the Red Sea parting, it's more like a few strategically-placed rocks in a creek. On Portis' touchdown run, Lorenzo Alexander
just push their men sideways while Randy Thomas
gets about a yard of push. Jansen kind of bumps into his man, knocking him over, and tumbles into the end zone. Portis never set foot in the end zone but he got the ball across the plane of the goal line. There is no physical domination in the style of the Hogs, but it's smart blocking and Portis knows how to use it.
· It was a slightly different story on a 27-yard Portis run early in the fourth quarter. On this one, the O-line got a good push and created a pile on the inside. At the point of attack, though, Samuels stepped back as if to pass block and just shoved his man out of the way. Portis got to the second level quickly and an Santana Moss
block—nothing spectacular, he just stayed engaged with his man—sprung him. This was the middle play in the three-play drive that led to the Redskins' winning TD.
· That came on a pass to Moss. A safety covering deep isn't much help when you send Moss streaking across the middle like that. The spin move to stay inbounds, make the tackler miss and get into the end zone isn't something you can teach.
· That put the Redskins up 14-3. I'm going to break down the goal line stand tomorrow in the Tuesday Take, so I'll stop here.
Leigh Torrence has Ade Jimoh's special teams prowess with better coverage skills. Despite the issues on the late deep pass that set up the game-winning field goal last week, one does not break into a cold sweat when Torrence is called upon to play nickel back. There was no such confidence with special teams ace "Uh-Oh" Jimoh lined up in coverage.