Posted Fri Nov 13th by Monty
The Denver Broncos can beat the Washington Redskins.
Some are already marking this week’s game in the win column, but here are a few reasons why the Broncos shouldn’t take this week against the Redskins lightly:
- The Broncos are coming off a short week (and physical match).
- They’re traveling to the east coast.
- It’s an early game.
- The Redskins have the top-ranked pass defense in the league.
Finally, and most importantly, the Redskins don’t look like a 2-6 team. Last week they got off to a slow start against the Atlanta Falcons but put together several good drives to pull within one score late in the game. Jason Campbell played very well, making plays with both his arm and his feet, and the defense got after Falcons QB Matt Ryan.
The Redskins’ opening drive against Atlanta was a microcosm of their offense: there’s a lot of talent, but the offensive line isn’t doing its part well enough to enable the playmakers do theirs. RB Clinton Portis was stuffed on back-to-back runs as the offensive line struggled to open a hole, then Campbell was completely swallowed up by the Falcons’ entire pass rushing unit (all three of them) on the third and long.
The OL would surrender five sacks in the first half. It would have been more if Campbell wasn’t so quick on his feet.
Portis was injured on the second offensive series, replaced by a combination of Ladell Betts and Rock Cartwright, and the running game didn’t miss a beat. Betts has proven to be a reliable backup in this league and shouldn’t be underestimated. The offensive line did better in run blocking throughout the game, converting a fourth and goal early in the third quarter that set the tone until Atlanta pulled away.
The offense didn’t really get going until that third quarter, but when it did, it showed signs of flourishing. Campbell was particularly impressive as the offensive line settled down and gave him time in the pocket. He throws an accurate ball but also makes plays with his feet — he has underrated speed and was clutch in moving the chains several times Sunday.
- Betts and Cartwright make a lethal combination, with Betts particularly dangerous.
- Backup QB Todd Collins saw several snaps here and there as Campbell nursed an ankle injury. He played fine.
- The Redskins might have lost Chris Cooley, but they seem to be doing just fine with backup TE Todd Yoder. Yoder had one hell of a catch in the back of the end zone with 13:05 left in the fourth quarter (putting the Skins within one touchdown of Atlanta), working with his quarterback as Campbell escaped the pocket and extended the play.
- WR Santana Moss looks scared out there, and frequently prepares to absorb a hit. At one point he fell unnecessarily as he made a catch, expecting coverage to bang him up. No one was there; Moss was quick to get back up, but it was just one of many occasions where it was obvious Moss isn’t the most physical of wideouts.
The Falcons offense had their way with the Redskins in the first half, scoring two touchdowns and likely one more if time hadn’t run out and Jason Elam was sent out to kick a field goal. Combined with a defensive touchdown, Atlanta led Washington 24-3 heading into the half.
However, they were shut down in the third quarter. The Redskins did a good job against the run, knowing Atlanta would try to put the game away, and helped the offense make the game interesting late.
It wouldn’t last. In the fourth quarter, Michael Turner broke loose. Safety LaRon Landry had a ridiculous whiff on a Turner tackle that led to Falcons points seeming moments after the Redskins’ Yoder had scored his. Turner would finish with 166 yards (9.2 average) and two touchdowns.
- The defensive line is fast and disruptive. Russ Hochstein and Casey Wiegmann will have their hands full with Albert Haynesworth.
- I didn’t see a lot of blitzing, but Washington’s pressure still got there a few times.
- Landry is hot and cold. He whiffed on the long Turner tackle that went for a score, but he also made a few big plays behind the line of scrimmage.
- Remember DeAngelo Hall and Eddie Royal‘s seven thousand catches in Week 1 2008 against him? I didn’t see much to suggest that shouldn’t be possible again.
If the Broncos struggle with getting after the nimble Campbell (they didn’t do well enough against Joe Flacco or Ben Roethlisberger), it will be a long day. He’s dangerous outside the pocket, and his one interception came off a tipped throw his receiver should have easily caught.
That being said, I’d rate this banged-up Redskins’ offensive line a step below Baltimore’s or Pittsburgh‘s (I discussed at length last week how the Steelers’ supposed protection problems were more a function of Roethlisberger and the playcalling than actual protection issues), and the Broncos defense should be chomping at the bit.
I see Denver’s defense getting back on track while the offense establishes a running game against a Redskins defense weak in that area. And Peyton Hillis would certainly be a good idea.
Broncos gain an early lead, but the Redskins stay close. Ultimately Denver gets back in the win column, 23-14. Your predictions in the comments.