Let's cut straight to the subject that's been buzzing around the message board and talk radio world:
Ten Spot Review: Giants 23, Redskins 7
We didn't think he would, and Fletcher admitted later that there was a lot of doubt if he would play. After the game, he walked from the trainers room to his locker with a pronounced limp. Yet he still made 14 tackles. He kept alive his streak of never missing a game since entering the NFL in 1998.
2. How about the others?
We thought Kedric Golston was very iffy and he indeed was inactive. Andre Carter wasn't looking too good, but he managed to play. However, he went long stretches where he stayed on the sidelines and couldn't play.
3. How will this impact the Redskins?
We thought there would be a big impact. Indirectly maybe there was a big impact, especially against the run. Washington had to use a lot of eight-man fronts to stop the run game. The Redskins also couldn't get to Eli Manning enough. But, in all honesty, that likely would have been the case if they were all healthy.
4. How can the Redskins defense stop New York in the running game?
Obviously we knew it would be difficult. But give the Redskins credit because they did it: New York averaged just 3.1 yards per carry. The ends played a bit wider at times, allowing them to turn turns inside. The tackles got good penetration at other times. And it helped having Chris Horton up in the box much of the game. There were a couple times when all 11 defenders were within 6-7 yards of the line of scrimmage.
5. Is their secondary enough to slow this offense?
We thought they could make the Giants one-dimensional and they did. However, that one dimension was enough to beat Washington. The Redskins used primarily man coverage – as they should have done – but the Giants hit Amani Toomer for a 40-yard touchdown against Fred Smoot and Manning consistently made big throws against the secondary. He completed 21 of 34 passes for 305 yards. In the first game the Redskins mixed up their coverages more often and confused Manning. They did not do that Sunday. His one interception came against tight coverage, but there was nothing confusing. However, the defense did enough to keep the game close. It's hard to do anything if the offense can't sustain drives and put up points.
6. Is the offense improved enough that it can dent the Giants' D?
Here's our line: They should at least be improved enough to do more than score seven points. Isn't that a kick? Our fear was that they hadn't improved enough to generate much against a good defense. And they did very little. Clinton Portis gained 22 yards on 11 carries. The running game averaged 5.1 per carry because of Devin Thomas' 29-yard reverse and Jason Campbell's scrambles. But if the Redskins didn't fool New York, they didn't move the ball. This is an issue that will continue to plague them in the final four games.
7. Can they slow the Giants' rush?
Jason Campbell was sacked four times, but only once in the first half when it was still a game. They did a decent job of giving him time to throw until they had to abandon any hope of a balanced attack. The Redskins used a few seven-man protections and it allowed them to take shots downfield. The problem was, the receivers couldn't win one-on-one battles or get open vs. zones. A major issue with this offense, based on talking to talent evaluators and experts, is the lack of playmakers on offense and especially at receiver (beyond Santana Moss). But Moss gets easily taken out with double coverage. A top No. 1 wideout should not be taken out as much as Moss does.
8. Will Sean Taylor's memory help them?
It did nothing, though if anything it might have left them drained in the first quarter. This was not a fire-up moment. This was a moment to remember, and a difficult one at that for some players. On a side note, the ceremony was not all that good. They could have included interviews with players and even ex-coach Joe Gibbs about what Taylor meant to them. Yes, it would have been hard, but it would have meant a lot. It just could have gone better. But it was good to see his family on the field.
9. How can the Redskins win?
They had to play flawlessly and they did not. The s pecial teams committed three penalties and missed a field goal. Punter Ryan Plackemeier averaged 45.7 yards per punt, but failed to pin the Giants inside the 20. But these weren't the differences in the game. Washington could not get off the field on third downs early in the game and could not convert them. New York is just that much better than Washington. In reality, the Giants would have to have overlooked them completely to lose.
10. Will the Redskins win?
We thought the Redskins main chance was if the Giants did, indeed, overlook them. And we predicted a seven-point New York win. Washington is too banged up to beat a good team right now. And the offense is bad enough to cause struggles against lesser teams. The Redskins have two good teams left and one lesser team. The one benefit for them is that they play three road games and they've done well on the road. But they're now looking up in the wild card race. Even if they win three of the next four – which is possible – they might not get a berth. In their last three home games, the Redskins have shown they can't beat a top team. If they finish at 9-7, that would still be two games better than our initial prediction for the season.
John Keim covers the Redskins for the Washington Examiner and is a contributing editor for Warpathinsiders.com. He has covered the team since 1994. Some of his other stories can be found at dcexaminer.com
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