Paul had a careless 15-yard personal foul penalty for hitting PR Austin Pettis helmet-to-helmet. Chalk it up as a mistake by a rookie eager to make a play. Paul is a smart guy. Here’s thinking he won’t make that mistake twice.
I have no gassers to hand out this week. That’s a bit surprising, I know, considering the Redskins scored only 17 points. But the breakdowns were isolated and by players who compensated with positive plays. WR Santana Moss’s drop is offset by terrific footwork on his touchdown catch. RB Tim Hightower’s third-down drop is offset by his pass blocking and his hustle to make a touchdown-saving tackle on an interception return. QB Rex Grossman made several fine throws before his late interception. The offensive line was far from perfect and committed too many penalties, but the Rams had no sacks.
QB Rex Grossman left a sour lasting impression with his ill-advised throw that MLB James Laurinaitis intercepted with 5:30 remaining in the game, but he did many positive things before that. On third-and-4 from the Rams‘ 6 in the first quarter, he beat a seven-man blitz by knowing where to go with the ball and getting rid of it quickly. He perfectly lofted a pass to WR Santana Moss in the back of the end zone for a touchdown.
Grossman was 8-of-14 passing on third downs, converting six, and two of those incompletions were dropped (Moss dropped one for an interception, and RB Tim Hightower dropped a sure conversion.) His full third-down numbers: 8-of-14 for 79 yards, one touchdown, one interception. He also scrambled for a third-down conversion on a keeper when TEs Chris Cooley and Logan Paulsen were covered.
On the downside, Grossman made several questionable decisions. He didn’t see Laurinaitis on the fourth-quarter interception. In the second quarter, Rams SS Darian Stewart dropped an interception that he might have returned for a touchdown. Grossman locked in on Moss, and Stewart jumped the slant. Grossman also gave fans a scare when he rolled to his left in the third quarter, only to throw late and back into the middle toward Moss. A completion would have netted only a couple yards and was not worth the risk.
Those of you clamoring for John Beck likely will have to wait awhile. Shanahan publicly and privately has maintained his belief in Grossman.
The Rams‘ defense rushed four defenders on 19 of 31 dropbacks. As Grossman has excelled against the blitz this season, teams have begun to back off.
Against four rushers, Grossman was 9-of-17 for 90 yards and an intentional grounding penalty. He scrambled twice, including once for a first down. His passer rating was 68.3.
Against five or more rushers, he was 6-of-12 for 53 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. That’s a passer rating of 50.3.
Just a thought about defenses more frequently rushing only four against the Redskins: That makes it more difficult for offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s scheme to win. There aren’t many plays in the playbook that can get receivers open inside the red zone when seven players drop in coverage. There’s too much going on in the secondary. It’s highlighting the Redskins‘ need for a big-time playmaking receiver.
Look at how Detroit’s Calvin Johnson or Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald use their athleticism and talent to make plays when they’re not open. Rex doesn’t have anyone similar to turn to when nothing is there. If the draft were tomorrow, receivers should be near the top of the Redskins‘ list, especially now that the defense is rounding into form with new personnel.