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Question of the Day
LT WILLIE SMITH: DE Trent Cole consistently abused Smith with his speed, and it was extremely disruptive to QB Rex Grossman in the pocket. Smith’s feet were too slow and, as a result, his base wasn’t strong enough to always keep up on the edge rushes. Cole sacked Grossman in the fourth quarter by sprinting around Smith and swiping his hands away. That actually happened on several plays on which Grossman was hit and his mechanics affected.
Smith also missed blocking DE Darryl Tapp on a first-quarter screen play on which WR Santana Moss gained only 3 yards. Tapp sprinted out from his end position after Smith kicked out, but Smith never turned to engage him, and Tapp made the tackle.
Smith was OK in the run game. RB Evan Royster gained 7 yards on a late third-quarter run when Smith released to LB Akeem Jordan after helping LG Maurice Hurt on a combo block against DT Derek Landri. Similar flashes have been evident throughout Smith’s three starts. However, he admitted he has a ton of room to improve his feet, his hands and his pad level. If he’s playing extensively next season, either something has gone wrong or he’s improved beyond could reasonably be expected.
RT TYLER POLUMBUS: Just as Smith struggled on the left against DE Trent Cole, so did Polumbus against DE Jason Babin. Polumbus is 6-8, so leverage can be a problem for him. It certainly was against Babin, who repeatedly lined up wide in a low, four-point sprinter’s stance. Polumbus also lacks the foot quickness to kick out wide against a speed rusher such as Babin.
Polumbus was bowled over by DL Derek Landri on the field goal the Eagles blocked in the first half. “I’ve just got to stay low and make sure that guy doesn’t get through,” Polumbus said.
Right tackle is one of the Redskins‘ biggest needs entering the offseason. Jammal Brown wasn’t able to run well this season, and Polumbus was inconsistent filling in. Both the running and passing games would benefit from an upgrade there.
WR SANTANA MOSS: Moss ended a poor season on a sour note. He dropped a potential 43-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Although QB Rex Grossman‘s pass was underthrown, Moss always has been exceptional at adjusting to balls in midair. He slowed to get underneath this one, but the ball slipped through his grasp. Coach Mike Shanahan repeatedly mentioned the drop in his postgame press conference, so you know he was burned up about it.
Moss lost his cool at the end of the first half, incurring a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for taking off his helmet to argue a call. How many times this season did a team captain lose his poise? I can think of other instances with DeAngelo Hall and Trent Williams. It’s embarrassing. This incident backed the Redskins up to the 19-yard line, setting up an epic field-goal-attempt blooper reel as time expired.
I wonder about Moss’ future with the Redskins. He signed a three-year, $15 million contract in the summer, but the dropoff in his production this season was stark. He caught only 48 percent of the passes targeted to him. His previous low in seven years with the Redskins was 53 percent. He averaged 3.80 yards after the catch, compared to 5.37 in 2010, according to ESPN Stats. That’s a sharp decline.
• RB Evan Royster benefited from some soft fronts. The Eagles had eight or more defenders in the box on only four of his 20 rushes. He gained a total of seven yards on those four carries. Philadelphia had only six in the box on his 28-yard run.
• QB Rex Grossman was under duress for most of the game, and his mechanics and accuracy suffered as a result. This was one of those games in which his lack of mobility was a major detriment.
On Grossman’s interception, LB Brian Rolle looped around the right side of the offensive line and hit him during his follow-through. I’m not sure how the Redskins should have blocked that. Rolle did well taking advantage of a long-developing play, and the Redskins‘ protection scheme already was established. RB Evan Royster already was blocking to the left as a result of play-action.
Grossman didn’t play well against all the pressure, but he should get credit for standing in and absorbing some punishment. He took a heavy shot on his 22-yard completion over the middle to WR Santana Moss.
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About the Author
- REDSKINS 2013: Washington seeks staying power among NFL's elite
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