Tag Archives: Washington Redskins

Much room for improvement

It’s easy to be excited if you’re a fan of the New York Giants.  The team is 2-0! Having experienced what can only be described as a dismal preseason, Giant fans didn’t know what to expect. I would have to say that the 2-0 start was as much as we could ask for.  Still, there appear to be a number of things necessary to remain victorious that this team needs to be doing.

Running the football effectively

The left side of the offensive line with Erik Flowers, Justin Pugh and center Westin Richburg appears to have quality written all over it.  It’s the right side that is seriously in doubt. Not having made any major changes to the offensive line might come back and bite the GMEN later this season. Right guard John Jerry and Right tackle Marshall Newhouse are serviceable backups at best.  Sure, Newhouse received acclaim for his week 1 performance against the Dallas Cowboys.  I think that was more of a tribute to how bad the Cowboys defense is than anything else. And one week later, Newhouse is injured. Who knows for how long? It looks like Bobby Hart will be stepping up to the plate.

Giant fans have been clamoring for a long term solution at right tackle and right guard for some time now.  The Giants have certainly had the opportunity to draft or obtain O-line help via free agency. Yet, they don’t see the gravity that fans are feeling.  How nice would it be to see running lanes open up for Giants running backs?

Creating turnovers

On the defensive side of the ball, the Giants look much improved.  Statistics indicate they are stopping the run and preventing the long pass from being completed.  After two weeks, they are the only team in the NFL not to have a completion of 30 yards or more made on them.

That is a tribute to the new talent they have on defense. A combination of high priced free agents as well as drafting secondary help appears to have helped this team dramatically.  Still, we know winning teams create turnovers. And the GMEN have yet to do so.

Janoris Jenkins has already made his imprint on this defense.  A big time talent that has always made big plays, he has been known for making interceptions.  Third round draft pick Darien Thompson out of Boise State was a ball hawk in college. Currently, he has no interceptions and is having difficulty staying on the field as a result of injuries.  The talent appears to be there on the D-line and in the secondary. The Giants just have to make it happen.

The Sack Department

Against what is widely considered the best offensive line in the NFL, it is no surprise that the Giants didn’t generate much pressure on Dak Prescott, the rookie QB who is looking very poised and talented. However, against a highly accurate Drew Brees, it feels like the GMEN could have applied more pressure.

I know it’s early in the season but against the Washington Redskins, it is time to release the hounds! Since the GMEN have always had difficulty covering the fast and elusive Desean Jackson, they better plan on getting to the QB sooner and preventing Kirk Cousins from playing catch with Jackson or Tight End Jordan Reed, one of his favorite weapons.  Let’s hope to see a more active Olivier Vernon/Jason Pierre Paul duo and perhaps see more out of Owa Odigizouwa and Romeo Okwara.  Utilizing the occasional safety or corner blitz wouldn’t be the worst idea as well.

Dwelling on the positive

I am ecstatic to see Victor Cruz contributing to the outcome of the games this early in the season. He made arguably (perhaps with the exception of the Jenkins special team TD) the biggest play of the game in last week’s victory over the Saints. Admittedly, I had my doubts that he would be able to return to the roster this season and certainly have an impact this early in the season. His Week 1 touchdown reception wasn’t too bad, either as fans react to it in this YouTube video.

https://youtu.be/W6AmdVo51jo

Don’t get me wrong

I am happy with this 2-0 start to the season. But it is much too early to know if this team is a contender or pretender. Giant fans needed a change from the mishaps of the past few seasons. I think Ben McAdoo brings a fresh approach to the job.  The Giants have won two close games this season.  They were losing close games last season. The money spent on free agents appears to be well spent thus far. The Janoris Jenkins acquisition has already paid off big and I am expecting the same of Olivier Vernon as well as the man they call Snacks.  Now let’s see this team improve and fill in some of their missing pieces.

 

Check out the PROMOTE circle on www.huddleball.com as well!

Check out the PROMOTE circle on www.huddleball.com as well!

 

 

 

Arizona Cardinals v. Green Bay Packers: Burn the Boats

The wait is over. The Arizona Cardinals have enjoyed a well-earned playoff bye and two weeks’ rest. It’s time again to lace ‘em up, strap it on and start slapping butts in the locker room.

The Green Bay Packers are in town, and they don’t expect a cordial welcome from 63,400 strong in University of Phoenix Stadium. It will be the venue’s 104th straight sellout.

Arizona’s 38-8 home triumph over Green Bay twenty days ago is still fresh in mind for the “Red Wave.” The Cardinals faithful watched their team sack QB Aaron Rodgers eight times and hold him to 151 passing yards Dec. 27. A vengeful Packers team will take the field today, fresh off a comeback win over Washington in the wild card round last Sunday. The contest will hinge on whether Green Bay has the firepower to match that of Cardinals, and conventional wisdom says no. Arizona leads the NFL in total offense with 408 yards per game and is second in points scored with 30.6.

But Green Bay has more playoff experience than Arizona. And Rodgers is one of the best at his craft, leading the Packers to a Super Bowl win in 2010.

Quarterback Carson Palmer has no NFL playoff victories to his credit. He shares that distinction with you, my attorney and the I.T. guy at work, the one with excessive chest hair. To be fair, Palmer’s only had two cracks at it, both with the Cincinnati Bengals. Cincy lost to Pittsburgh in 2005 and the New York Jets in 2009.

2009 was a bewitching playoff season in the Valley of the Sun, thanks to the late-career wizardry of QB Kurt Warner, who led Arizona on an improbable run that died in a crushing last-minute loss to Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl. With his heroic status cemented, Warner hasn’t had to pay for a drink since. Never mind that he doesn’t drink. He’s in the pantheon of Cardinals greats, and Carson Palmer’s on a quest to join that lofty fraternity.

Is Palmer too old at 36 to find playoff success in today’s speedy and powerful NFL? Warner was 37 in 2009. Tom Brady’s still agile and accurate at 38. Palmer has his health, abounding offensive weapons and has led the Cardinals to 13 wins this season. He set franchise records with 4,671 passing yards and 35 TDs. This is his time.

Palmer and coach Bruce Arians are pleased with the 13 wins but they’ve cast their eyes forward and are hell bent on notching three more and gripping the ultimate prize. To inspire his troops, Arians would do well to remember the story of Alexander the Great, whose army arrived on Persian shores and found it was vastly outnumbered. Alexander did not slip into retreat or call in reinforcements. Instead he gave the order to burn boats.

Nothing readies a man for a fight more than the savage realization that there is simply no avenue of retreat. You win or you die.

Welcome to the NFL playoffs.

Eric Forgaard

This blog is not sponsored by a generous grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Around The NFC East: Looking Into Week 14 And Beyond

With three 5-7 teams and one 4-8 team, the NFC East is the worst division in football right now.  Even the AFC South, another symbol of mediocrity, has at least two teams with a .500 record right now.  That is not the case in the NFC East, though, where every team currently has a losing record, and no team is the decided favorite to win the division.

After the Redskins 16-19 loss to the Cowboys last night, the Redskins have failed again to win two consecutive games all season.  What is worse, though, is that, this time, they couldn’t break the trend against consecutive NFC East opponents after beating the Giants last week but losing to the Cowboys this week.  They are tied with a 2-2 divisional record with the Eagles, but they still sit atop the NFC East because they have head-to-head advantages over the Eagles and Giants at the moment.  However, they finish the season playing on the road against the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys in Weeks 16 and 17, respectively.  Their remaining schedule goes as follows: @Chicago Bears, Buffalo Bills, @Philadelphia Eagles, @Dallas Cowboys.  With the Bears (5-7) and Bills (6-6) as their next two opponents, they have the easiest two-game stretch among NFC East teams coming up, but they still need to prove that they can win two consecutive games this season before the advantage is given to them.  In addition, with three away games left on the schedule, they could have a difficult time winning the division considering that they have not won an away game all season, currently standing 0-5 in away games and 5-2 at home.

The Giants (5-7) are in a difficult spot because Washington and Philadelphia currently hold the tiebreaker edge against them, and they have just one divisional game left in Week 17 against the Philadelphia Eagles.  The Giants, who are currently 2-3 in the division compared to the Redskins and Eagles at 2-2, have had multiple opportunities to run away with the division throughout the season, but they have not been able to take advantage of the situation and have the worst record of the NFC East teams over their past three games (0-3).  Their next four contests go as follows: @Miami Dolphins, Carolina Panthers, @Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles.  The Dolphins (5-7) are in the bottom of the AFC East, and they are a long shot to make playoffs this year.  The Carolina Panthers (12-0), the only undefeated team in the NFL, may have a first-round bye locked down by the time they face the Giants but are playing great football now regardless.  The Minnesota Vikings (8-4), currently tied atop the NFC North with the Green Bay Packers (8-4), are likely to be fighting for their playoff lives in the Week 16 game before the Giants face the Eagles.

The Philadelphia Eagles (5-7) are an erratic team in an inconsistent division over their past three games. They gave up 45 points to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Detroit Lions but then beat the Patriots, 35-28, at the Patriots stadium.  That outcome just doesn’t make sense.  Since the Eagles play the Redskins and Giants in Weeks 16 and 17, they would have the tiebreaker advantage against both teams if they win both games, and, since they are currently 2-2 in the division, they can go to 4-2 by the end of the season.  However, the Eagles schedule is not the easiest in the NFC East moving forward.  The Eagles schedule goes as follows: Buffalo Bills, Arizona Cardinals, Washington Redskins, @New York Giants.  Playing at home over the next three games could be seen as an advantage from one perspective; however, the next two weeks should be especially difficult, and the Eagles are 2-3 at home.  When they face the Bills (6-6) this week, they will be playing against LeSean McCoy in Philadelphia for the first time since he was traded in the offseason.  The Cardinals (10-2) have one of the best defenses in the league and the highest scoring offense in the league.  The Eagles will need play exceptionally well to beat the Cardinals before finishing the season against two division rivals.

The Dallas Cowboys (4-8) are surprisingly still in the playoff race because the NFC East is just that bad this season. The 4-8 teams in other NFC divisions – Detroit Lions, New Orleans Saints, San Francisco 49ers, and St. Louis Rams – are at least four games behind the leaders in their respective divisions.  But that’s not the case with the NFC East, and the Dallas Cowboys, who have lost twice as many games as they have won and suffered through a seven-game losing streak, are only one game behind the leaders and still in contention in the division.  What makes the situation even more striking, though, is that three of their four wins have come against divisional opponents, giving them a 3-2 record in the division – the best divisional record among NFC East teams.  Their remaining schedule goes as follows: @Green Bay Packers, New York Jets, @Buffalo Bills, Washington Redskins.  Dallas just won their first game without Tony Romo playing quarterback, but they could struggle to continue that streak.  The Packers (8-2) are fighting to win the NFC North over Minnesota, and the Jets (7-5) currently hold the last wildcard spot in the AFC and will be hungry to keep the momentum moving with five teams tied or at least one game away from them in AFC standings.

None of the NFC East teams have shown any trend towards running away with the lead in the division, and, over the past three games, the records show no clear-cut front runner: Giants (0-3), Eagles (1-2), Redskins (1-2), and Cowboys (2-1).  Sure, Dallas has the best record over their past three games, but they have a tough schedule remaining and have struggled without Tony Romo playing quarterback.  The NFC East is a division of mediocrity, but, form another viewpoint, it can also be seen as one of contention.  It is fair to wonder if any of these teams will be able to make a deep playoff run even if they win the division, but the hope of the underdog winning makes the issue compelling.

Questions/Comments?  @sean__cumming