This Week’s Victim-San Francisco 49ers

Lets take a closer look at this week’s opponent, the San Francisco 49ers. The Niners won their 1st game over the Rams, and since then have dropped straight. Only one of the 4 losses was close, a heartbreaker against Dallas. They’ve given up at least 25 points every game this season, and quite frankly have been one of worst teams in the league this year.

Quarterback: Alex Smith, the 1st overall pick in the 2005 draft, is now the undisputed 1st string QB. Tim Rattay who started the 1st four games of the season has been dealt to Tampa Bay, leaving the job to Smith. His 1st start was terrible, throwing 4 interceptions and looking very much like the rookie he is. The back up is Ken Dorsey who started last year’s game against the Skins. Last year the Skins picked up 4 balls in the game vs the Niners.

Running Backs: Kevan Barlow is the starter. Many had star expectations for him after showing glimpses early in his career while sharing duties with Garrison Hearst. He has yet to achieve those goals, although his performance has been much better this year. He average 4.1 ypc and has 1 TD. Frank Gore, a rookie from Miami, is the backup and will see some carries. He’s looked good in limited duty averaging 4.4 ypc. Frank Beasley is a good fullback. All 3 RBs are a threat to catch a few balls in this game. Last year the Skins bottled up the running game, holding the 49ers to 55 yards.

Receivers: The loss of tight end Eric Johnson to injury has left the team struggling to find a number one target. Brandon Lloyd and Arnaz Battle are both unproven, but have potential. Lloyd in particular is average 19.2 yard per catch this season, and leads the team with 3 TDs. Battle is a former Notre Dame quarterback, who is still learning the position. Battle bring a lot of options to the table, as evidence by his 2 pass attempts and 5 rushes already this season. Veteran Johnnie Morton is the 3rd WR. Billy Bajema is listed as the starter at tight end, but 3 TEs have catches this year. Steve Bush leads the pack with 3 catches. Johnson lead the Niners with 8 catches in last years game.

Offensive Line: The 49ers have given up 17 sacks through 5 games. In the only game Alex Smith started, he was sacked 5 times. Jonas Jennings was signed in the offseason to stabilize the line, and is the starter at LT. Jeremy Newberry is a veteran center, returned from a injury prone season. Rushing wise they average 3.8 yards per carry, and have one more rushing TD than the Skins. Footballoutsiders ranks them as the 10th best rushing line, although they struggle on power attempts. Most of their successful runs have come to the right side. Passing protection wise they are ranked ahead of only the anemic Houston line. The Skins had 1 sack in last years game (shared by Wynn and Griffin)

Defensive Front Seven: The Niners moved to a 3-4 defense this season. Bryant Young has been rejuvenate by the switch, lining up at end and leads the team with 6 sacks. Julien Peterson is trying to return to his former probowl self, he’s 2nd on the team with 2.5 sacks. Andre Carter, who in the past gave the Skins troubles, has moved to linebacker in the 4-3 set. His stats show that he’s still getting used to his new position. Leading tackler Jeff Ulbrich has been placed on IR with a ruptured bicep. His replacement Saleem Rasheed is also injured, leaving Brandon Moore to start. Peterson has a injured hamstring, but is expected to play. Former Redskin Derek Smith is the leading healthy linebacker with 30 tackles. The Niners currently rank 18th in stopping the run. Last year Portis managed 110 yards on 35 carries.

Secondary: Injuries have come into play here as well. Number 1 corner Ahmed Plummer is out this week with an ankle injury. Mike Rumph is out for the season as well. This leaves Shawnte Spencer and Bruce Thornton as the expected starter this week. Spencer is a 2nd year player who played a lot last year, he’s still looking for his 1st career interception. The other starter is expected to be recent practice squad call up Bruce Thornton. Look for the Skins to try to exploit this, as even before Plummer injuries this wasn’t a good pass defense. They rank last in the league in pass defense. Safety Tony Parrish is good in run support and leads the secondary with 34 tackles. Mike Adams is the other safety.

Special Teams: Joe Nedney is the kicker. Despite being more injury prone than John Hall, he’s still a good one. He’s yet to miss this year, going 3-3 in limited opportunities. He’s kicked for 3 touchbacks this year and the Niners are 2-3 on recovering onside kicks. The punting is handled by Andy Lee, who’s been good this year. He averages 42.9 yards per kick, has 7 kicks within the 20 with zero touchbacks. Rookie Otis Amey is a dangerous punt returner. He’s averaging 16.9 yards per return and already has a 75 yard touchdown return. Kickoff returns are handled by Amey and Maurice Hicks. Hicks has been the better returner thus far with a long return of 40 yards.

Final Analysis: This is not a good football. The Skins should be able to handle them. I expect a few big plays from the Skins, but mainly a ball control display. The Niners are worst in the league in time of possession, which is one category the Skins love to dominate.

Washington 31 San Francisco 3


Week 7 NFL Picks

Kanas City at Miami (-2)
Miami has looked good this year, however Kanas City is the better team.
KC 28 Miami 17

Green Bay at Minnesota (+2)
Minnesota is in disarray, they can use this game as a turnaround point for the season, or to continue to tank it. Mike Tice is still their coach, so the vote here is tanking.
Green Bay 34 Minnesota 17

San Diego at Philly (-4)
Philly is coming off a bye, and an embarrassing loss to Dallas. The thinking here is that Andy Reid took the week off to bring more balance to the offense.
Philly 31 San Diego 28

New Orleans at St.Louis (-3)
Jamie Martin will be playing for the Rams. The Saints haven’t looked good this year, but Jamie Martin is playing QB.
New Orleans 21 St.Louis 17

San Francisco at Washington (-13)
More indepth preview coming up, but this one will be all Skins.
Washington 31 San Francisco 3

Indianapolis at Houston (+16)
Houston’s been the worst team in the league this year, the Colts the best, no surprises here.
Indy 42 Houston 0

Pittsburgh at Cincinnati (pick’em)
Litmus test game for Cincinnati, I don’t think they’re ready yet.
Pittsburgh 21 Cincinnati 20

Detroit at Cleveland (-2)
rumor is Jeff Garcia may get the start for the Lions, this game hinges on that. Garcia isn’t a world beater, but he’s better than Harrington anyday. Garcia plays, and
Detroit 20 Cleveland 16

Dallas at Seattle (-3)
Dallas is coming off two big division wins, and Seattle WR crew is injured. None the less, Dallas is ready for a let down.
Seattle 24 Dallas 20

Tennessee at Arizona (-4)
Irrelevant bowl game of the week.
Arizona 31 Tennessee 20

Denver at NY Giants (-2)
Mark it down, Giants will finish last in the NFC East. They can’t beat good teams, Denver is pretty good.
Denver 34 Giants 24

Buffalo at Oakland (-3)
Bills have looked better with Holcomb under centre, they need this game if they have any thoughts of playoffs.
Buffalo 21 Oakland 20

Baltimore at Chicago (-1)
If you like low scoring defensive battles, here’s your game.
Baltimore 10 Chicago 6

NY Jets at Atlanta (-7)
The Falcons are a tough team to judge, but they are better than the Jets
Atlanta 24 Jets 14


The Turnover Question and Why they should start to come

A quick gander at the NFL Drive Stats shows the Redskins as having the 2nd most yards/drive in the NFL. The Skins rank way ahead of teams that are being regarded as the ‘unstoppable’ offenses in the NFL. The Colts, Chargers, Bengals and Giants all rank below the Skins in yards per drive. Of course all these teams have scored many more points than the Skins. They are 2 main reasons for this: 1) Lack of Defensive Turnovers 2) Lack of big special team returns.

Today I’m going to focus on the turnover issue, and why I’m optimistic on this front. It is well known that the Skins have 2 takeaways on the season. Both of those takeaways came in week 1 vs. The Bears. Every single week this year the Skins have lost the turnover battle (the Bears game was started by Ramsey who had 2 turnovers in his limited time). Normally this isn’t the path to being a winning team, but except for the Dallas game, the Redskins have clearly been the better team in all of their games. So since we aren’t playing the Bears anytime soon, what possible reason could there be for optimism?

There are two types of takeaways, the fumble recovery and the interception. Interceptions can be summed by looking at the QBs the Skins are facing in the upcoming weeks. The last 4 weeks they’ve gone up against experienced veteran QBs (Bledsoe, Hasselback, Plummer, Green). Now some of those guys aren’t exactly Bernie Kosar in terms of holding onto the ball, but they are veterans who aren’t going to be surprised by our defensive sets. Three of the next 4 games the Skins will go against young QBs, so I’d expect a few picks. Alex Smith, Eli Manning and Chris Simms will all be getting their 1st or 2nd glimpse at a Gregg Williams defense, and I’d expect some miscues.

In terms of forcing fumbles we are actually a middle of the pack team. We’ve forced 9 fumbles through 5 games, that ranks as tied for 13th in the NFL in fumbles forced per game (I’m using the per game basis, since we’ve had many teams have yet to have a bye). We’ve recovered 1 of the 9 fumbles we’ve forced. That 11% recovery rate ranks ahead of only Houston (0 for 4), and well below the league average of 51% recovery. Recovering fumbles isn’t a skill, its mainly luck. Regression to the mean will mean that will start to have some of those fumbles bounce our way.

So the number say, the turnovers will come. Now if only the on the field product can follow suit.


The Lavar Situation

The biggest issue in Redskins world for the last 2 weeks hasn’t been the games against Denver or Kanas City. Heck the games have almost been an afterthought to some fans. For it seems Lavar Arrington and his playing time or lack thereof has been the main topic of discussion for fans. A quick glimpse at Extremeskins shows the range of emotions that this topic has brought to Skins fans.

My take on the whole issue is about as boring as it comes. I really don’t care who plays the weakside linebacker spot on the team. I just want the best player to be out there. If the coaching staff deems Warrick Holdman to be that guy, then I’m with them. If this week or next Arrington gets out there and plays because the coaches decide he’s the best option, then I’m good with that too. Gregg Williams is a very good coach, he knows what he needs more than I do. The main pro-Lavar argument is that he’ll cause turnovers. That may be the case, he’s forced main fumbles in his career. Then again the main problem for the Skins hasn’t been forcing fumbles, its been recovering the ones we do get.

The main problem I’ve had with fans reaction is not in wanting Lavar in there at all costs, its the fact that some people have implied that Gibbs and Williams are doing this some reason other than on the field issues. It amazes me that people think Gibbs would allow something like that to happen. Last year we stuck out whole year with Coles and Gardner at WR even though they had stated they wanted out, and that they disliked the offence. If anyone was deserving of having their asses plastered to the pine, it was those two. But Gibbs felt our best chance to win was with those guys on the field, so on the field they stayed. The only ambition Gibbs and Williams have is to win, and to question is well pretty damn stupid.