First, much props to Skin Patrol over at Hogs Haven, the best Redskins blog around. SP was kind enough to share some thoughts with me about the Redskins and I returned the favor (you can read my answers to his questions here).
3k, Turf Show Times: I heard somewhere that the Redskins have found success as of late on the field. Seriously, you guys are playing solid football and finishing games. I watched all 60 minutes of your last game against the Eagles, and came away impress with a couple things. First, the composure of the team as a whole. After the opening drive and then the DeSean Jackson return (despite the block in the back that got picked up), you guys were ina 14-0 hole early. That could have gotten out of hand quickly, but the team pulled it together. The second thing that continued to impress me was Jason Campbell's composure. The immediate credit has to go to your O-line, because Campbell had plenty of time to go through the progression and make smart decisions. He was even unlucky a couple of times with the Randle-El drops, but his untangibles continue to impress me. Lastly is the consistency of the defense. You guys were straight up hood-stingy with the Eagles.
Westbrook rushed for just 33 yards and DeSean Jackson had just 1 catch. What was shocking was that you were able to do all that without great pressure on the QB (no sacks last week for you guys). At this point, who do you credit more for the success you've seen so far? Is it the coaching for providing a winning mentality (something the Rams lacked in every way under Linehan), Jason Campbell for minimizing turnovers so that Portis' work doesn't go unrewarded, or a defense that makes the most out of every play?
Skin Patrol, Hogs Haven: Hard to say as all those things are related. I have to credit the coaching staff for minimizing turnovers. Jason Campbell of 2008 looks so much different than he did in years past, and the new piece is Jim Zorn. The defense has been great but, then again, we've come to expect at least solid defense out of the Redskins. Single person to credit will have to be Jason Campbell. What he is doing right now is remarkable, especially contextualized with where he was at last year. He was basically good for over a turnover a game last year and those turnovers felt like they always happened at the worst possible time. Now he's leading game winning or game ending drives with ease and seems comfortable running the third offense he's had to learn in the NFL. Again, so much of that success is due to the coaching staff, but it's on Jason's shoulders to execute and execute he has.
TST: Since that question was on the past, let's hit the present/future. Which of these three will have to bring their A-game into this three game stretch (St. Lou, Cleveland, and Detroit), specifically with the Rams? A gap in the mentality could see you guys drop one of these three games when you obviously have the ability to win all three, so you the coaching staff has to reinforce the mantra that you can't take any team for granted (any given sunday, blah, blah). Campbell is bound to throw an interception. Will it pour when it rains? If he kills a couple drives with some bad decisions, it could make it very hard for the Redskins to come away with a win. And as for the defense, the main question mark I have for your D is age. Already, Jason Taylor, Shawn Springs, and Marcus Washington are feeling the age. Having watched him for years, London Fletcher will die before he gets hurt.
He's a rock of a MLB. With the nagging injuries to the veterans, do you guys have the depth to be able to deal with this part of the schedule and beyond if things get worse on the injury front?
HH: I thinkis probably the worst team in football right now so I'd have to pick them. I think any given sunday is very real and I hope the Redskins know that. We were 11 point underdogs to the Cowboys and nobody was giving us a chance to win that game but, fortunately, it fell on a Sunday. Coach Zorn's mantra throughout has been "stay medium" which is supposed to keep the team mellow and focused. No highs, no lows, just robotic efficiency. Jason Campbell is the perfect medium quarterback, since I'm fairly certain he is, in fact, made of robot. I don't think I've seen him express a single emotion on the football field.
I think when we do turn the ball over, eventually, there's a better than not chance we do it again. Turnovers are defense generated and the team that finally figures out how to get the ball out of Jason's hands and into their own is at least the best candidate for repeat success. I don't think, at this point, turnovers will ever become endemic. We've gone through enough of the season where I'm comfortable stating that this team is well coached enough to generally protect the football.
At linebacker we have the Hamurglar H.B. Blades who looks talented enough in the snaps he's had. Behind that there's really nothing, as Khary Campbell is himself a grizzled veteran. On the line we are pretty set for the future (or as set as one can be) in the interior, as we have a pair of young talented tackles in and Kedric Golston. Defensive end is a problem. Chris Wilson is good, Andre Carter isn't that old, but Philip Daniels is already wearing down and Jason Taylor can't possibly have too many more good years in him. Demetric Evans is younger but I think he might be preparing himself for a career as a car dealership owner; he's looking beyond his football career. The amazing thing about our success so far is that it has come in spite of injuries. We had to get Taylor because Daniels went down. Then Taylor went down. And we still won two division road games? In the NFC East? Without any sacks? Give credit to the secondary, as they've been playing WAY over their head.
TST: I'll ask this question for the guys over at Turf Show Times who might not have watched the last(as I did) and may not know what to watch for. What player/s should Rams fans keep an eye out for and why? By this, I mean what player might have flown under the radar so far and is primed to bust out this week (so not )?
HH: I don't know how much longer Chris Horton can fly under the radar when he's generating turnovers, but watch him. He looks like the Predator. He managed to tackle the starting safety job from Reed Doughty and hasn't looked back since. On offense it's really just a matter of time before Devin Thomas has a big game. The coaching snap is giving him a lot more snaps than eitheror Fred Davis. Thomas has made some rookie mistakes so far but he's also made some big plays (although his biggest, an around 70 yard reception, was called back by penalty). In a game in the future things will click and you will hear him roar.
Good stuff, and a good backdrop for an interesting week 6 matchup. Again, thanks to Skin Patrol and Hogs Haven for linking up.