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Posted at 02:44 PM ET, 09/19/2011

Redskins are winning despite red zone woes

Rex Grossman’s prediction has come to fruition, albeit prematurely. The Redskins sit alone atop the NFC East and it only took 2 weeks. If they plan to stay on top and fulfill the Rexophecy, these early overachieving Redskins have a big hill to climb. Three pros and three cons from the Redskins’ week 2 win over the Cardinals before we get ready for Dallas week.

Pros

1) Rex looked sharp two weeks in a row. It’s an awesome sight watching him go through all his check downs. I counted only one play where he didn’t know exactly where to find each target — a miscommunication with Davis which was a blown route or a missed audible. He forced his first interception in the red zone, but his second interception hit Armstrong right in the hands. He rebounded with perfect touchdown strikes to Davis and Moss. The toss to Moss was thrown under greater pressure (a 4th and 3 from the Arizona 18 with the game on the line.)

2) The sophomore version of the 3-4 gets the game ball. The starting four linebackers (I’ve dubbed “The Firm” due to their low body fat and their last names sounding like a law firm) were phenomenal. The offense’s miscues were continually bailed out with defensive dominance, including sacks from Kerrigan, McIntosh, and Orakpo, and a crucial red zone interception from Fletcher. Kerrigan looked less like a rookie and more like an All-Pro. Injuries to cornerbacks Josh Wilson, Kevin Barnes, and Dejon Gomes gave Westbrook and rookie Brandyn Thompson unexpected playing time. Westbrook ended Arizona’s last real chance by stripping the ball from Chansi Stuckey. Through two weeks Haslett’s defense looks stout, fierce and deep, a drastic contrast to last year’s struggling unit.

3) Fred Davis looks untouchable. Too fast for linebackers, too big for cornerbacks and safeties, and even if they get close, his hands have been incredible. He’s hauled in 11 catches for 191 yards, averaging a staggering 17.4 yards a catch. Brandon Banks is electrifying and continues to shine. Rookie Roy Helu turned in a tremendous performance gaining 74 yards on 10 carries and 38 yards on 3 receptions. Finally, punter Sav Rocca has been outstanding. In two games the Aussie has punted only 9 times, but 7 of those have been inside the 20 yard line.

Cons

1) Red Zone. Grossman’s interception, Gano’s blocked kick, and Trent Williams’s false start. Seven trips to the red zone and 13 points. A 10-7 halftime lead could have easily been 28-7. This game shouldn’t have been close. The running game was clicking behind Hightower and Helu, and even Young had an impressive 3rd down scamper for 7 yards, but for some reason it was abandoned when the Redskins got inside the 10 yard line. It shouldn’t be this hard. Get Fred Davis or Moss in one-on-one coverage, an off-tackle pitch to Hightower or Helu, a bootleg rollout, anything. Either Kyle Shanahan is over-thinking his calls or the offense is not executing or both, but this desperately needs to be corrected. Wins like this are few and far between.

2) Batted balls. It looked like Rex had 5 or 6 balls knocked down by defensive lineman. Whether it’s Rex’s shorter stature, a lack of pump fakes, play calling, or the offensive line not holding their blocks long enough, there were too many blown plays from batted balls. Cooley was wide open on the right flank with a mile of open real-estate in front of him and Grossman’s pass was batted down. Wasted play.

3) Injuries could be a big factor in the upcoming weeks. The safeties have been battling to get healthy and then the cornerbacks got decimated on Sunday. The reserves have been dependable, but they’ll need their starters to keep the wins coming. Smart move not chancing Landry and the gamble paid off with a win. A healthy Wilson and/or Barnes and Landry will be pivotal taking on Dallas in Dallas. An early bye-week could end up being a blessing.

It’s difficult to get down on a team after winning, but there’s a lot of football left to be played. While it’s better to make mistakes and win than lose, they shouldn’t assume it’ll always have a happy ending. Dallas is injury plagued, roster thin, and very beatable, but the Redskins need to start turning yards on the field into points on the board or this may be the only time this year the Redskins sit alone on top of the NFC East.

By Evan Bliss  |  02:44 PM ET, 09/19/2011

Tags:  Evan Bliss

 
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