Not ready for football
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.
It was a perfect night to kick off the Jim Zorn era: a matchup against an NFC East rival, albeit the defending Super Bowl champion in its own digs. The New York Giants would be so caught up in celebrating their title in front of their fans - fans who didn’t get to see any of the road warriors’ four playoff victories - that they would forget there was a game to play.
At least that’s what the Monday Morning Quarterback’s pals thought (hoped?). The MMQB himself was more skeptical. He figured this game and the upcoming visits to Dallas and Philadelphia were losses and that Zorn and Co. might as well suffer these defeats while they’re getting the kinks worked out of their new West Coast passing scheme.
The theory about the Giants not focusing on the Redskins didn’t last much longer than a Michael Phelps race. The Giants dominated the Redskins the way they usually do in the swamps of Jersey. New York scored on each of its first four possessions, and the burgundy and gold looked more like the too young and the too old in failing to produce a first down (other than on a New York penalty) or even a completed pass on its first four series.
Q: So are the Redskins really this awful, or were they just victimized by a sharp Giants team intent on showing that its surprising 2007 title wasn’t a fluke?
A: The Giants did play well, but their 16-0 lead late in the first half could have been 28-0 if they had been able to finish their drives, all of which penetrated the Washington 30-yard line.
The Redskins were impotent on offense and feckless on defense. It’s hard to believe these coaches and players had months to prepare for the Giants. But then New York is now 18-8 at home against Washington dating to 1984.
Q: That opening drive was a horror show. What happened to the offense that needed just three plays to score in the preseason opener against the Colts a month ago?
A: The scary thing is that the offense keeps regressing. Replacing the aging Jon Jansen with young right tackle Stephon Heyer certainly wasn’t the answer. Heyer was beaten for a sack by Justin Tuck on the first play. Heyer jumped offside two snaps later, costing the Redskins 13 yards on his first three plays.
The only reason the Redskins’ second possession lasted more than three plays was a roughing-the-punter call against the Giants - a penalty that gave Washington its only first down in the first 28:50.
Q: Who should I blame for the Giants’ opening 84-yard march?
A: Not middle linebacker London Fletcher, who made the first three tackles. Cornerback Carlos Rogers was toasted by Plaxico Burress - Burress also beat him for the winning touchdown in Week 3 last season - for consecutive completions of 30 and 19 yards. Burress victimized cornerback Fred Smoot three plays later to make it first-and-goal, and Rocky McIntosh couldn’t make the stop on Eli Manning’s rare bootleg for the touchdown.
Q: Fletcher was playing like a madman, but where were his teammates on the Washington defense?
A: Rogers looked like a guy who hadn’t played in a real game in more than 10 months. He continually gave Burress too much room. Safety LaRon Landry, who missed a month with a hamstring this summer, came up with a banged-up right shoulder after getting run over by burly back Brandon Jacobs. Taylor and Andre Carter were bookends in doing nothing.
Q: What was the pregame celebration for the Giants like?