Sunday, December 4, 2005

- Let's face reality, the chances of the Rams finding their way to a playoff spot are between slim and none and slim just left town. Again, they would have to win out to have any chance and then hope that some of the stronger teams in the NFC go on losing streaks. It just isn't likely. Still, it'd be nice to see this team find a way to keep it interesting.

- OK, again, the run defense, I don't know what to say that hasn't already been said. The tackling was about as poor as I have seen all season and that's saying something. How can a team that has been gashed by running teams so many times in the past two years continue to make the same mistakes? Players are out of position consistently. When they aren't out of position, they put themselves out of position by taking bad angles to the ball. If you break down the tape and the numbers, I'm sure you'll see that there were a few long runs that really boosted the Redskins' rushing average. But let's not play that game. You can always say if you take away this play or that play then the team did fine. But the fact is, those plays happened and there's a reason they did. It comes down to fundamentals and discipline. Those things just aren't there on a consistent basis right now and it has cost this team a chance at a playoff season.

- There have been a ton of injuries to this team and that happens, but it's no excuse and interim coach Joe Vitt won't let it be one. It doesn't matter how old you are when it comes to simply understanding where you are supposed to be.

- The secondary is probably the group most hit by injuries with DeJuan Groce playing with a concussion and Travis Fisher, Jerametrius Butler and Adam Archuleta missing. That leaves young or inexperienced guys such as Mike Furrey, Jerome Carter and Ron Bartell starting with Oshiomogho Atogwe also getting time. Considering that Washington didn't have a huge day throwing the ball, it's amazing to say that it was still a really long day for this group. Carter struggled with his angles and gap control. Furrey continues to struggle with angles, missing on a few that could have prevented long runs. Bartell simply missed some tackles that he has to make. Even Groce had his problems taking the best route to the ball and avoiding blockers or making tackles.

- Ryan Fitzpatrick is a rookie, Ryan Fitzpatrick is a rookie, Ryan Fitzpatrick is a rookie. He still has a really bright future in this league. He's a likeable kid with all of the physical tools and even more of the mental capacity to succeed, but for everyone that expected him to come in and do what he did last week, it simply wasn't fair. Also, I would hope this puts to rest the requests for Fitzpatrick to take Marc Bulger's job permanently. Fitzpatrick should still be getting the starts in place of Bulger while Bulger is injured, but it has to be understood that there are going to be growing pains. Teams are able to adjust to what Fitzpatrick is doing and that's what Washington did. As a rookie, it's hard for Fitzpatrick to adjust quickly enough on the fly to counter what the opponent is doing. It was a pretty rough day for him, but it's a necessary evil on the way to what I think will be a long and prosperous career for Fitzpatrick.

- Eleven carries for running back Steven Jackson? What is it about a team loading up the box against the run and attacking with the blitz that makes the Rams go away from the run so easily? Clearly they weren't having a ton of success, but there was a point where they were down 10-7 and still in the game and it seemed like Jackson didn't get much of an opportunity. It's no wonder some Rams in the locker room were frustrated at the lack of a commitment to the run game.

- The blitz pickups are still mediocre at best. Only Marshall Faulk seems to be able to do it consistently and even he got beat once today. Brandon Manumaleuna is in the game because of his blocking abilities, yet he also whiffed on some blocks. It's a good thing Fitzpatrick can run.

- Ryan Pickett deserves a tip of the hat. He always plays hard, is always around the ball and seems to always know his assignment. It's a shame his effort this season has been overshadowed by the overall struggles of the defense.

- Congrats to Torry Holt for breaking the 1,000 yard mark again this year. He's one of the best in the business and continues to prove it.

- Chris Claiborne played pretty well in replacing Trev Faulk at middle linebacker. He wasn't making big plays, but he was a pretty sure tackler and seemed to be in the right spot most of the time.

- On the aforementioned youngsters, now is the time to put them all in there and see what they are made of. It's time to evaluate people for next season and decide who needs to be here and who doesn't. Carter needs to do a lot more to prove he deserves Archuleta's job. I'd like to see more of Atogwe also. Alex Barron, Claude Terrell, Fitzpatrick, Madison Hedgecock and Bartell should also continue to get serious time.

- All the best to linebacker Dexter Coakley, who suffered a gruesome ankle and leg injury and is probably out for the year. Coakley is a class act and you never want to see bad things happen to anyone. Here's hoping for a speedy recovery for Coakley.