Redskins' Lack of Big Plays Stifles the Offense in Opening Day Loss

Wide receiver Antwaan Randle El is the Redskins' top pass-catcher on opening day, hauling in seven for 98 yards.
Wide receiver Antwaan Randle El is the Redskins' top pass-catcher on opening day, hauling in seven for 98 yards. (By Jonathan Newton - The Washington Post)
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By Paul Tenorio
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, September 14, 2009

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., Sept. 13 -- In the visiting locker room in the depths of Giants Stadium, Washington Redskins wide receiver Santana Moss reclined on the back two legs of a white folding chair, his legs propped up on the locker in front of him.

The Redskins' most dangerous playmaker in the passing game, Moss had been mostly invisible in Washington's 23-17 loss Sunday afternoon, finishing with just two catches for six yards -- troubling numbers for an offense hoping to open things up more in Coach Jim Zorn's second season.

Though wide receiver Antwaan Randle El had thrived in the slot and tight end Chris Cooley turned in a strong performance, the Redskins' inability to turn in the big play, and lack of production from the outside receivers, only amplified doubts about the passing game.

Moss was matter-of-fact when asked if he was frustrated at his lack of production in the loss, acknowledging that he did get upset at one point in the game, but saying that there was little he could do when the plays designed for him did not develop.

"We all know it's plays that's called, there were a few plays that was called that just didn't even happen because of whatever," Moss said. "And that's what I always say: You got to be ready for your opportunity or you got to capitalize on your opportunities. And sad to say those opportunities didn't even happen because of a miscue or something, so I kind of got [angry] one time about it because I knew it was my play. But hey, you got to chalk it up and go to the next play.

"When you get down you're not even worrying about how many times you got the ball or when you're getting the ball, you're just worrying about trying to win. Trying to find something to keep yourself going and that's all I was thinking about trying to do all I can for the team."

With the Giants focusing on the outside, quarterback Jason Campbell said the Redskins took what was given to them: the middle of the field. Randle El, who was moved inside to the slot, was the Redskins' most effective wideout, taking advantage of the space inside, and his production inside was encouraging.

Four times Campbell looked to either Randle El or Cooley up the middle on third downs for conversions, and the two turned in back-to-back receptions on the Redskins' final drive, which ended with Cooley's 17-yard touchdown catch.

Randle El led Washington with seven receptions for 98 yards, and Cooley had seven catches for 68 yards and one touchdown.

"We figured coming into the game the middle of the field would probably be the area for us to complete more passes and move the team," Campbell said. "For the most part [on] the outside they were trying to take away some things, so we had to work with what was given to us in the middle area of the field."

The Redskins also tried to get Randle El involved with some trickery on their first drive, calling a wide receiver option pass after running back Clinton Portis had moved Washington into Giants territory with a 34-yard run.

The Giants sniffed it out, however, and Randle El was taken down for a loss of 11 yards.

"I should have just threw it away," Randle El said. "I was just trying to do too much, making too much of a big play. I should have just threw the ball away. That would have been the end of that."

But despite the Redskins' effectiveness over the middle of the field, there remained a sense that Washington would have to rethink ways to stretch the field.

Moss said he hoped his teammates' effectiveness over the middle against New York would be the key to doing just that.

"I was glad to see that Randle El and Cooley got off showing a lot of that stuff inside," he said. "Because that's something you've got to take advantage of. I feel like we did, so I was glad to see that. Hopefully other teams will see that and they'll try to do something different, and then we can all get in the mix."

Zorn needs to come out and call pass plays in the second half. That's the only way this team is going to come back. The middle of the field is wide open, and they should put Moss in the slot as well and let him make plays. Posted by: ga8085

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