Thursday, September 17, 2009

Hunting With The Predator: Shake It Off by Matt Wallace

Afternoon, P48 fans!

I’m a pretty lucky guy. Blogging for Chris Horton, The Predator, Number 48 (Quattro Ocho? Nah…) has got to be the coolest thing I never thought I’d be doing a month and a half ago. When TriFytt Sports told me I’d been selected for the job, I was almost in disbelief. I’m humbled to take on the blog for my favorite player, one of the leaders of the Skins defense, and one of the most unheralded players in the game today. I hope you’ll keep checking in throughout the season.

Hopefully you’ve shaken out the cobwebs from Sunday and are focused on the barbecue of the Rams coming up this weekend. (Ram tastes delicious, by the way). First home game and what should be the first tally in the W column this year for the good guys.
First, a little about last week:

Optimism abounded before the Giants game. Same game as a year ago, but a few key lineup changes (Quickdraw Burress was silenced and Itsnotta Toomer was excised in the offseason) and a renewed hope for a better year for the Skins. It was obvious a strong run defense was the key to silencing the G-men. Horton and the D accomplished this goal, for all intents and purposes. But it was too little in the end.
A few moments of brilliance were quickly squashed by bad play calling, missed tackles, and stupid penalties.

The question that flashed in my brain after more plays than not was: Why?
Why pull a trick play after a first down on the first play or the first drive of the first game of the regular season? It seemed like Zorn drew up the play in the dirt with his buddies during a game of backyard ball. Staying medium is out the window this year, but there is a difference between playing aggressively and playing recklessly. Save these globetrotting plays for when they will work effectively, like the fake field goal, which even took Miss Cleo by surprise. Taking the flicker for an 11 yard loss really hurt. I would have rather seen a sustained effort by Campbell to keep the drive going.

Why run three consecutive identical running plays out of the end zone? Portis was stopped for no gain twice on the same play, so why not run him to the right? Or maybe even throw? Not exactly a novel idea. Campbell has an arm, so use it. He can’t build anyone’s confidence if Zorn won’t let him air it out. I know Portis has the potential to break away, and that chancing an interception is risky so deep on the field. But it’s almost worse to just give a set of downs away rather than let them go for it. I think Zorn triple-deked himself out, thinking that nobody in the world would expect three identical running plays in a row. Nobody except the Giants defense.

Why, D Hall, why? Just why? That’s it.
Why swap out Horton for Doughty in the second half? It didn’t make any sense. Biased or not, Horton had a great first half and was directing the secondary like a salt-and-peppered veteran. He was key on two red-zone stands in the first half limiting the Giants to three points when they easily could have had 14. He shut down Brandon Jacobs on 4th and one on the Skins 3 yard line in the 2nd quarter, and he stuffed Bradshaw for no gain to end the half. It was shocking not to see him getting the reps in the second half, even after he stuffed Brandon Jacobs for a loss on a crucial 3rd and one. Horton was all over the place and helped sustain a defense that was steamrolled by the Giants a year ago. I’ve got to think a breakdown in communication between the coaches came into play. Doughty is blue collar, but he only had three tackles in his 30 reps to Horton’s nine tackles in his 40 reps. Numbers tell the story.

A Cooley TD during the two-minute drill kept things close enough, but I think it’s best to take away the lessons from Sunday and focus on the Rams. I’d like to see much more hard-nosed, deliberate play from the offense, and a minimum of one late hit penalty by the Defense (please). We can’t be left asking why next week, especially against a team that is deserving of some major revenge from ’08.
As long as Horton continues to keep the secondary straight, and Campbell plays to his ability, it should be a good Sunday.


2009 tackles to-date: 9


(Fans: show your support for Horton on the blog and on the message board at predator48.com. Chime in, voice your opinion, and most importantly, spread the word about the most unsung player in the NFL: Chris Horton!)

3 comments:

John said...

Chris is definitely the best run stuffer in the secondary - I cannot figure out why he was pulled either. Of course, the D was on the field for over 36 min's. He did do a great job while he was in, though. Kudos...
BTW congrats on becoming the official Predator Blogger! Great honor.
As far as Zorn's offensive game plan goes - it could probably use a little more planning. OK, maybe a LOT more. It's a real head scratcher at times.
Don't know why it took him so long to figure this out, but coach Z admitted after the game that the defense was more effective when the secondary didn't play so far off of the receivers. So maybe the scheme should allow for some closer contact - maybe even have CBs engage at the line?
Just because the Lambs are the worst team in the NFL doesn't mean the Skins should or will take them lightly. But no more hanging out on the field for that long - bad things are bound to happen.

Wallace said...

Thanks, John. And thanks for the comments.

Agreed that the defense spent too much time on the field last week, even though it's great watching them go to work. Ideally I'd like to see more three-and-outs. Horton has the run covered, but he needs help on stuffing the pass.

My Week 2 Preview should be up shortly. I think the difference this year is that they aren't coming off a 4 game win streak, so the fire should be lit under them in the home opener.

Stay Medium is now Stay Fired Up!

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