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Blognostications

2012 - Week 4 @ Tampa Bay Bucs

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Blognosticator - Elephant


Could the last two games have been any more disappointing, infuriating, confusing, exciting, maddening or enraging? To be honest, at this point in the season this is about where I figured we’d be, 1-2. But I never would have imagined we’d get there by beating the Saints then losing to the Bengals and the Rams. I kinda figured we’d split with the Rams and Bengals. And who would have thought we’d have the highest scoring offense in the league thus far with our defense ranked at the bottom of the league? Fortunately, we go into Tampa this weekend to face a struggling Buccaneers team that is early enough in the tenure under their new coach to take advantage of the learning curve. They’ve been pretty bad too. Dare I say, “This is a team we ‘should’ beat?”

Since the 1999 Divisional Playoffs, the Redskins have played no other team, not in their division, more than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I was living in St. Louis, Missouri watching the Redskins blow their 13-7 lead late in the second half of that game. If the Redskins won that game, they would have played the “Greatest Show on Turf” in St. Louis for the NFC Championship and I would have been there. Of course, we all know Brad Johnson threw up a huge duck that Lynch picked off with ease. Not only was this beginning of the end for Brad Johnson, it spelled doom for the Turk brothers as Dan or Matt…I don’t remember nor do I care to look it up…bobbled the snap on the game winning FG attempt at the end of regulation. Redskins lose! During the Gibbs/Gruden eras a major rivalry was building almost as significant as any within the division. Alstott NEVER crossed the plane of the goal line! That’s OK, we won the rematch in the playoff game that year. Since, both teams have battled to be mediocre at best. The Bucs had a good season a couple of years ago with our current defensive backs coach at the helm, but fell off the map last year. The Redskins? Well…we just haven’t been good since we won our last Super Bowl over 20 years ago, even though we’ve had a few fleeting moments under Coach Gibbs.

So what does that mean for the game this Sunday? Who knows!?!? Just like last year after the opening game win, there seemed to be something special happening. The reality is the subsequent 2 games have shown our defense has taken a huge step backward, our special teams has let us down in consecutive weeks and on offense…while scoring a lot of points…the offensive line has been terrible at protecting our star. Much of the time Griff has been able to avoid the rush with his athleticism but if he continues to take the beating he has, he will slow down considerably. The reality is the holes on this team are at two of the more crucial positions in today’s NFL, CB and OL…maybe a little worse than we’d hoped or even expected. Compound our deficiencies on both sides of the ball with questionable play calling and no wonder we are 1-2. Essentially, any success this season will depend entirely upon whether we can score more points than our opponents. So far, we’ve been able to do it one out of three times. I think the most difficult thing to swallow is we are an arm’s length away from being a truly competitive team.

As for our opponent this weekend, they are not a very good team either. “Never Give Up Schiano” may end up building a winner in Tampa, but not yet. Last week their offense was abysmal, but I will say Dallas does have the top ranked defense in the league. The week prior Tampa put up 34 against the Giants, but gave up a 14 point lead allowing the Giants to score 25 in the 4th quarter. And they were only capable of scoring 16 against a bad Panthers’ defense. They do have some tools on that offense that could give us fits. Doug Martin could end up being the right tool to shred our zone. He is quick and a few passes out on the edge could loosen up our blitz packages. The Rams and Bengals figured out how to destroy our defense, if Schiano’s ego is not too big, he will learn from their success and we could see Doug Martin have an all-pro day against us. Vincent Jackson has to create some concern as well. He is itching to have a breakout game this year in his new digs. Overall, their offense is suspect ranking near the bottom of the league. They released Jordan Shipley and just signed Roscoe Parrish, so that shows their receiving corps is lacking even with the addition of Jackson. I think Josh Freeman is over rated and he does not have a lot of tools, but Tampa has a good offensive line so our defensive line has to step up in a big way. Raheem Morris should have some influence on the performance of our secondary against his old team.

On defense they have been schizo so far. They did well against Dallas last week, holding them to only 16 points and keeping Romo from blowing up a defense that saw Eli put up 41 against them the week before, 25 of them in the final quarter. If there is a pattern being set, in the first week they held Cam Newton to 10 points, allowed Eli to put up 41 and followed that up allowing Romo to only put up 16. I believe that pattern will continue this week. If we can get our run game going enough to take the pressure off Griff, then we will be successful against their defense provided Kyle Shanahan does not get “cute”. They are going without their starting DE Adrian Clayborn so we should be able to concentrate on Gerald McCoy and/or Bowers. Aqib Talib is finally starting to become one of the better corner backs in the league, but we have enough weapons to take apart their secondary, provided Griff has time.

It would be nice to see Shanahan use a short passing game like he used against New Orleans to get that rush off of Griff. After the defense loosens up a bit, it would be nice to see Morris get going and for goodness sake can we please throw Helu or Royster or Ryan Grant (if we indeed signed him) in there every few rushes to spell Morris and change it up a bit. I would really like to see our “traditional” run game succeed so we don’t have to watch the option get Griff crushed (I can see it now, they run the option and Gerald McCoy gets a clean shot on Griff! We do not want that to happen).

When all is said and done, for the first time this year I am confident in saying we will win this game handily. Their defense is pretty bad. We need to do exactly what the Rams and the Bengals did to us. Eliminate that pass rush by using quick dump offs and get the run game going. I also think the Bucs receivers are not good enough to thoroughly exploit our defensive backs. I think our defense steps up this week against a weaker opponent and our offense scores pretty much at will. If our special teams don’t step all over them selves, we will win handily.

Redskins 45
Buccaneers 21
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