- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 20, 2011

ANALYSIS/OPINION

A review of the best and worst performances by the Washington Redskins‘ offense and some observations after re-watching the TV broadcast of their 22-21 win over the Arizona Cardinals.

GAME BALLS

TE Fred Davis: For my money, Davis was the best offensive player on the field. He was exceptional in the passing game, obviously, but he also had one of his best games run blocking – and it’s no coincidence the Redskins‘ three running backs averaged 5.7 yards per carry.

Davis was excellent using his feet and hips to stay square against blockers and turn them out. On the first play of Washington’s third series, he got under OLB Joey Porter’s inside shoulder and drove him out by keeping his legs churning. RB Tim Hightower chose that hole and gained six yards. On the next play, he pivoted to seal OLB Clark Haggans on the right edge, which opened a hole through which Hightower gained 10.

On a critical third-and-1 in the fourth quarter, Davis helped extend the Redskins‘ touchdown drive by getting off the ball a step faster than Cardinals OLB O’Brien Schofield and sealing him inside so FB Darrel Young could gain seven.

Davis was a weapon in the passing game, too. His strong arms and hands help him catch passes even with defenders hanging on him. Porter couldn’t match up with him. Through two games, no one has.

C Will Montgomery: This is the beginning of a lot of love for the offensive line this week. This game might have been the unit’s best in coach Mike Shanahan‘s 18 at the helm. All five guys consistently won individual matchups, and again, that’s how the Redskins‘ three running backs averaged 5.7 yards a pop.

Montgomery gets top billing because he was a stout run blocker, and because the Redskins‘ protections were much smoother and more effective against Arizona than they were against New York. QB Rex Grossman was sacked only once, and he posted a passer rating of 101.7 on the 16 dropbacks on which the Cardinals rushed more than four. Montgomery is responsible for making protection calls at the line, along with Grossman.

Cardinals DL Darnell Dockett did get by Montgomery and hit Grossman on a third-down pass by swatting Montgomery’s initial punch, but Willie-Mo otherwise was a major asset because of his strength. He’s one of the Redskins‘ strongest players, and it showed in how he controlled several Arizona linemen.

In the fourth quarter, RB Roy Helu gained seven yards through a hole that Montgomery created by driving Dockett out to the right. When Dockett turned his shoulders perpendicular to the line of scrimmage, Montgomery ate him up and ran him out. Helu also gained seven on a first-quarter run behind Montgomery, who simply shoved DE Calais Campbell to the ground.

Montgomery will have a chance to distinguish himself on Monday night against Dallas NT Jay Ratliff, who consistently gave C Casey Rabach problems the last two seasons. If Montgomery can control Ratliff in the run game, the entire offense could flow from there.

RB Roy Helu: The spark he provided behind RB Tim Hightower makes you wonder why he carried only once against New York when the running game was struggling. Then again, the quality of the running lanes against Arizona was a thousand times better than in the previous game.

Still, Helu made the most of his touches. His feet set him apart. He can juke defenders without losing speed, which helps him break tackles. He gained 20 yards after contact on the 33-yard screen pass he caught in the second quarter. And how about him hurdling LG Kory Lichtensteiger without breaking stride? He clearly has a higher gear than Hightower, which makes for an effective change of pace.

Helu even picked up a blitz, blocking ILB Paris Lenon coming up the middle on a fourth-quarter pass. He didn’t square Lenon up like Hightower does, but his read was correct and he did enough to stop Lenon.

Story Continues →