Coming off a loss that infuriated me so badly that I couldn't talk about it, the Buccaneers will head into miserable weather against their 8th opponent this season without a winning record. The Redskins have lost 4 of their last 5 games and the Bucs their last two. The temperature at Fed Ex field will be in the mid 40's with a 90% chance of rain and 100% of run game. Folks, these are the two worst run defenses in the NFL. Mix that in with wind, cold and rain you you should see a nice healthy dose of LeGarrette Blount.
Blount was incredibly active in the first half of the Atlanta Falcons game, yet struggle to find holes in the second half (compiled with Jeff Faine going down). In the first half the Bucs ran Blount heavily behind Jeremy Zuttah and James Lee. There is no question Lee is a better run-blocker than Trueblood (even though he was physically dominated in the pass pro game last week). Against a 4-3, the Bucs lineman were able to get to the second level often. Against a 3-4 they will have to be cautious of blitzing linebackers and an inflated use of stunting/slanting. Blount is a prototypical power back. The more he dances, looks for cut-back lanes and gets to the sideline the fewer yards he gains. The 'Skins haven't faced many power back but last week, Brandon Jacobs rushed for over 100 yards in just 8 carries and added two touchdowns to the mix. The Giants did a nice job of changing speeds with Ahmad Bradshaw, possibly a luxury the Bucs don't have right now.
While the Redskins certainly have to worry about Blount, the worst run defense in the league (us) may not have as much to worry about. With Clinton Portis being lost for the season the 'Skins will rely on Ryan Torain, James Davis (former Clemson star) and Keiland Williams (rookie out of LSU) none of which have accomplished much in their time this season. I don't believe this is another Saints/Panthers scenario when an unproven back has a nice day. The Saints are better equipped to handle a situation like that and the Panthers offensive line is built around run-blocking. The 'Skins have about as good of an offensive line as the Bucs saw in San Fransisco and are only truly successful when backs get in the open field. The Bucs have struggle much more between the tackles. I will concede that Stylez White played phenomenal against the run last week, shedding his blocks and not allowing Turner room to run on the outside. This is exactly what the Bucs will be forced to do this week when the Skins try to run outside of tackles Jamaal Brown and Trent Williams.
Against the pass, the Washington Redskins are better. DeAngelo Hall is the 'Skins Aqib Talib. Incredibly dangerous but also vulnerable. One time Buccaneer, Phillip Buchannon is on the other side and the Bucs will look to find mismatches against him and Free Safety Kareem Moore. Against third down, the Redskins are the 28th worst team in the league. They don't have any feared pass rushers other than the occasional blitz from Orakpo. They will have to utilize their schemes to frustrate the Bucs offensive line and Josh Freeman. There is only one quarterback who is more efficient at running the ball in the league than Freeman (Vick). The felon from Filthy ran for 80 yards and 2 TD's in a monstrous game against Washington earlier in the season. If Washington is able to get pressure on Freeman, he should have little trouble in finding running lanes and hitting them.
The one aspect of their defense that concerns me this game is how effective the 'Skins are at forcing fumbles (16). In a wet game, facing the leagues 6th best team at stripping the ball a turnover in our own territory can be the difference in this game.
Graham Gano has hit a couple of game winning field goals this year but isn't the most reliable kicker in the league. The Skins have a better special teams than the Bucs, but it's nothing significant to think that it could be the game-changing unit in this weather.
I would also being doing a disservice to football fans if I didn't mention the recent suspension/ban of fat guy Albert Haynesworth. Over-Paying Haynesworth and then getting into disputes about his position were ultimately the end of Haynesworth in Washington. He's a good player. He made a difference against the run when he was in this year. However, his laziness and piss-poor attitude are also well documented. With all that said, there is some question as to how Shannahan handled the situation. He definitely singled Haynesworth out and successfully made an example out of him. He never relented with him, and finally suspended him. Shannahan was also at the center of a controversy regarding the benching of Donovan McNabb on the final drive earlier this season. If it was anyone other than Donovan McNabb and Rex
GoatGrossman it's not a controversy. McNabb was playing like garbage and zapped all confidence that Shannahan had in him to lead a game-winning drive. I can't really blame him. Regardless, the coach that was the sexy hire of the offseason, the coach that's name that was rumored to fill any and all vacancies (Bill Cowher-esque) seems to have picked up where he left of in Denver. Vulnerable.
Josh Freeman 22/30 - 220 Yards - 2 TD - 0 INT
Mike Williams 5 Catches - 75 Yards - 1TD
LeGarrette Blount - 28 Carries - 115 Yards - 2 TDs - 1Fum
Donovan McNabb - 18/33 - 190 Yards - 1TD - 1INT
James Davis / Kieland Williams - 110 Yards total, 1 TD
|QB||X||At this point in their careers, Freeman has the slight advantage|
|WR||X||The Bucs are deeper and Mike Williams is as good if not better than Moss|
|RB||X||Even though Clinton Portis hasn't been himself for the last two-three seasons, it's a huge loss for Washington|
|OL||X||Tampa's line is not good.|
|DL||X||McCoy and White are the only decent parts of the DL and they are so inconsistent. Haynesworth makes them a ton better, but with him suspended, it's only a slight edge.|
|LB||X||The bright spot of the entire team. Orakpo, Fletcher are good, Alexander is servicable and Blades is meh.|
|DB||X||X||Right now, it's a push. Losing Talib is painful. Maybe even a slight edge to Washington because of D.Hall|
|Coaching Staff||X||X||Can I call this a push? 2nd year coach Raheem Morris vs. legendary Mike Shannahan shouldn't be a contest, but it is. Raheem has his team over-achieving and the Redskins seem to be in shambles. Not to mention some of the debacles Shannahan has led.|
Score: 28-17. I think the Bucs get an early jump on this game and never really look back.