[caption id="attachment_1657" align="aligncenter" width="319" caption="Shaun Suisham"][/caption]
The Washington Redskins eked out a 9-7 win over the St. Louis Rams. They moved the ball up and down the field all game long right up until the point that they got inside the Rams 10 yard line. Then, for a variety of reasons, things stalled. Shaun Suisham kicked three field goals, all of them from less than 30 yards out, to account for all of the scoring.
The Redskins' failure to punch the ball into the end zone drew boos from the testy crowd at FedEx Field—which was some 4,000 under capacity on what was a perfect afternoon for football—and pans from the local and national media.
Certainly, not being able to get the ball into the end zone is a problem. But it's a high-class problem to have, especially when you win the game.
The Redskins dominated the game offensively and defensively. Jason Campbell completed over 65% of his passes and averaged just under seven yards per attempt. If you take away Campbell's three kneel downs to kill the clock the Redskins averaged 4.3 yards per carry. Clinton Portis didn't have a lot of running room but he powered for 79 yards on 19 carries. Hunter Smith punted just twice. Washington had a 10-minute advantage in time of possession. For the second straight week the Redskins defense allowed just one touchdown.
The Redskins played a solid game, other than their inability to score touchdowns.
Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, did you enjoy the play?
I don't want to minimize the shortcoming here. Had Chris Horton not put his helmet on the ball after Donnie Avery had caught a pass at the Washington five, the Redskins may well have lost.
But that play happened. So did Mike Sellers' drop of what would have been a Campbell touchdown pass in the second quarter. Devin Thomas also failed to catch a potential touchdown in the first quarter. That was a more difficult opportunity but a wasted opportunity nonetheless.
Can you complain about Jim Zorn calling for Portis runs on each of the first three first and goal situations? Sure. Was the Portis option pass a bad play call? Yes, especially considering that the Rams must have been tipped off that something was up when the Redskins lined up with two tight ends, a fullback and one wide receiver on third and goal at the five.
Although you wouldn't know it by reading the papers or the message boards or by listening to talk radio, Zorn's play calling inside the 10 was pretty balanced. On those first three trips there, the goal to go calls were four runs and five passes, counting Portis' toss. On the last excursion to the shadow of the goal post it behooved the Redskins to keep the clock moving so they kept the ball on the ground.
One thing that you can't complain about is the attitude of the players and coaches after the game. Zorn said that the locker room was quiet when he came into the locker room immediately after the game, more like the atmosphere after a loss. The players toed a solid line between being happy for the win but not satisfied with
This game would have been worthy of boos and pans if the Redskins had lost. Or if they had won 9-7 with a bunch of three and outs on offense with the points coming on long field goals or after fluke turnovers. As it was, it was yawn-inducing and it showed that the team has some serious work to do. But people need to get some perspective.
This team has the weapons to get into the end zone from close in. Zorn needs to figure out how to utilize Malcolm Kelly and even Marko Mitchell down there. If they can draw some attention then Chris Cooley might be able to work his way open. Campbell should try a few more shots at the end zone from further out when there is more space to work with. I don't think that the Redskins have run a naked bootleg since Mark Rypien scored on one. That would have been a great call on that last fourth down when the defense overloaded to the left.
This is not rocket surgery. Jim Zorn gets paid a lot of money to figure out these things. If I can see it, if you can see it, he can see it.