(photo by Brian Murphy)
1. “Intervention” by Arcade Fire
The Washington Redskins came into Atlanta with the opportunity to make people forget about all of the recent off-the-field headlines and turn the conversation back to football. The suddenly-vulnerable Falcons were in the midst of a two-game losing streak and the Redskins, coming off of a bye week, had two weeks to prepare for this matchup.
If the Redskins were able to come out the gate quickly and makes some plays early, they might just find themselves on the road to respectability. So what happened? The exact opposite, of course.
The ‘Skins looked overmatched on both sides of the ball and the game was over by the end of the Falcons’ first possession. Seemingly everywhere you looked things looked downright awful. Washington trailed 24-3 at halftime, thanks in part to 69 yards of total offense. Redskins running back Clinton Portis was knocked out of the game with a concussion after picking up just four yards on four carries.
If that’s not bad enough, quarterback Jason Campbell continues to look like a battered spouse running for his life behind that porous offensive line. He was sacked five times in the first half (which tied a Falcons franchise record) and pressured countless other times.
On the rare instances when he wasn’t being sacked, Campbell was still running for his life – he had to leave the game twice, once for a chest injury and once because of an ankle injury. It almost got to the point where you hoped someone would pull him aside and beg him to sit out for fear of a Campbell suffering serious bodily harm. But, as they say, injuries are a part of the game.
The first half of the Redskins-Falcons game illustrated an issue on a much larger scale. Coupled with the opening halves of the Tampa Bay and Kansas City games, it’s evident that something is not right. For the third time this season, the Redskins looked completely unprepared and outmatched in the first half of a game, which is bad. But when you have two weeks to prepare for the Falcons and cannot muster anything remotely resembling a professional offense, that’s inexcusable.
To continue to blindly head into the remaining eight games of the season with the very distinct possibility that your offense might not arrive until after halftime is downright embarrassing. Something needs to change, sooner rather than later. Otherwise we could be in store for the darkest days in franchise history.
2. “Just Give it to Me Raw” by Busta Rhymes
We mentioned the Redskins had 69 yards of offense at the half. Well, they also had 69 yards in penalties at intermission, thanks to an undisciplined defense. On their very first snap of the game, defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth was penalized for encroachment, politely informing ‘Skins fans of what was to come.
And let’s be completely honest – was there a single Redskins fan either in attendance or watching at home that didn’t know safety LaRon Landry was going to get called for a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty when Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan was simply trying to run out of bounds in the second quarter?
At this point, there are three things Landry does very well – dumb penalties, taking bad angles and poor tackling. People continually use the Sean Taylor tragedy as an excuse – “Landry is playing out of position … blah, blah, blah.” But the truth is, the Redskins used the sixth-overall pick on a guy who continues to hurt his team because of selfish penalties. Throw in the fact that he continually tries to go low when tackling opposing players in the open field because Giants running back Brandon Jacobs ran him over a year ago, and Landry is as likely to hurt the Redskins as he is to actually help them.
3. “Do What You Want To Do” by Adema
Speaking of running backs having their way with Landry and the rest of the Redskins defense … how about that Michael Turner? The artist formerly known as LaDainian Tomlinson’s backup had his way with the burgundy and gold, rushing for a season-high 166 yards and two touchdowns on just 18 carries. For those of you scoring at home, that’s more than nine yards per carry.
The one constant we’ve had this year was that while the ‘Skins offense struggled, the defense remained the lone bright spot. Well, that wasn’t the case Sunday. Turner scored on a 30-yarder and a 58-yarder, and both times Redskins players could do nothing to stop the man. Guys like Landry or cornerback DeAngelo Hall harmlessly bounced off of him, while Turner scored with ease. Ryan threw for just 135 yards on the day, but that was simply because the Falcons didn’t need to do anything other than hand the ball off to Turner.
4. “Whoa Now” by B-Rich
We’ve mentioned Landry’s ill-advised unnecessary roughness call against Ryan in the second quarter, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t bring up the ensuing aftermath. In addition to being unwise because it cost the Redskins field position, the play was downright stupid because Landry decided to take the cheapshot on Atlanta’s franchise player … on the Falcons sideline.
As expected, the play didn’t sit well with Ryan’s teammates. Falcons linebacker Tony Gilbert in particular showed his displeasure by shoving Landry from behind. That was enough of a reason for Hall to come to Landry’s defense, as he tried to go all Chuck Norris on his former team. Even Atlanta coach Mike Smith during the commotion, to the point that Hall claims the second-year coach put his hands on him and threatened him.
“I ran over there to pull my guy away. Next thing I know one of the strength and conditioning coaches put his hands on me and started to pull at me and grab at me and various other guys were pulling at me, grabbing at me,” Hall said to reporters after the game. “Through the whole time I’m trying to get the guys hands off of me. Later on coach Mike Smith came over and grabbed me, talking shit to me saying he’ll kick my ass. I definitely stay in Atlanta in the offseason. If Mike Smith wants to see me he definitely can find me. He definitely can find me. He definitely can find me because that’s some bullshit right there. We’ll save that for a different day.”
While it’s great that someone on the roster is still showing some fight as this season continues to unravel, this isn’t exactly what we had in mind. Hall, if you want to make headlines, please do so on the field. Whipping some old dude’s ass isn’t going to change anything. Instead, please focus on picking off a few more passes and taking over punt returning duties full time. Thanks.
5. “Over and Out” By Foo Fighters
Portis is out with a concussion. Campbell somehow remains upright, even after chest and ankle injuries. Safety Chris Horton, who was already battling a knee injury, suffered an injured toe. Fellow safety Reed Doughty came out of the game with a leg injury. Offensive lineman Mike Williams suffered an ankle injury. Wide out Santana Moss was knocked silly on play he didn’t even remember after the game. Add in previous injuries to guys like Chris Cooley, Chris Samuels and Randy Thomas and it’s tough to see the already-bleak situation getting better for the Redskins.
The team had trouble keeping up with opponents when everyone was healthy, as evident by their 4-12 record over the last 16 games. With the casualty count quickly rising, it’s not impossible to envision the Redskins failing to win another game this season. Sorry to end on a downer, but honestly, there’s not much in the way of positives to take away these days.