Thursday, September 24, 2009

Hunting With The Predator: Small Victories by Matt Wallace

I’m not exactly sure what was said in the locker room following the Week 2 Rams matchup, but one of the positive talking points in a sea of negatives must have been Blache’s game ball speech to Chris Horton.

Like his Seussian namesake, Horton never forgets.

Last year the Rams capitalized on the Skins’ inability to bury them early, and they booted a last minute field goal for a two point victory. All too familiar, the Rams were knocking on the door late in the 4th quarter until Horton forced the ball out of Donnie Avery’s hands for a turnover. Fine time for his first forced fumble of the season.

To add to his already solid performance, Horton defended the Rams’ last-ditch pass play to Avery. Again, no dice. (Talk about getting in a guy’s head). Had Horton not batted the ball down, the Rams could have had another long look at a field goal to eek out a win in horrific déjà vu fashion.

However, Horton did show that he is human (maybe) after all. A poor angle on a run by Steven Jackson in the second quarter led to a 62 yard gain. A mental error against a beast of a running back (the prey that got away?). Consider it a lesson learned -and Horton never forgets.

To offset this infraction, some of Horton’s critics should take note of the coverage on Avery in the Rams’ last play. While Horton’s defense against the run is well-established, he has been knocked for his ‘not great speed’ in coverage. But he was all over this play like a blanket on a baby. (Also, it’s relevant to note that Avery runs a 4.2, and Bulger served up a perfect ball on the play.)

Aside from The Predator’s positive notes, the fans’ reaction to the game and the players’ reactions to the fans was a giant uglystorm.

It’s the old story we all know well: Team wins 9 to 7 in a not-so-perfect home opener, fans boo at half time, player tweets about dim-wit fans. Media attacks.
Two reactions:

1) If fans working at McDonalds fork over such a high percentage of their wages to Snyder to come to games, they can boo all they like.

2) Boos are better than radio silence from empty seats.

I said it last week, and I think the mantra applies here. “Stay Medium” has become “Stay Fired Up!” Fans are fired up because they recognize the Skins as having the chops capable of producing better results. Wasted talent is hard to watch, and that materialized into the halftime grumblings last week. Even so, the fans aren’t completely ruthless. I wasn’t at the game so I don’t know for sure, but nobody booed when the clock wound down with a tally in the Win column.

It’s also foolish to think the players are happy with mediocrity, evidenced by the rookie’s twitter outburst in frustration with the booing fans. The players are fired up, too. They are busting their tails to be great and win, and I am convinced the efforts on the offense will soon reflect the work being put in by the D. Big Mike Sellers, who just signed a contract extension, dropped a pass that should have lit six on the board. But he owned the mistake and said himself that the win felt like a loss. Doesn’t sound like a guy who is content with just showing up.

Everyone’s fired up. The play calling will improve, passes will be caught, and opposing offenses will continue to be crushed. The pieces of the puzzle are there, now they just have to be put together in the correct order.

Perfect opportunity to do just that against the Lions next week.


2009 tackles to-date: 17


John said...

I believe that overall Chris had a better game against the Rams than he did in week 1, especially considering the game saving pass defended at the end.
He has a good chance to pick up an Int this week,Stafford has tossed up 5 in the first two games. And the odds are favorable to a long awaited coming out party for the team.
The Lions are the only team that JC has really blown up, the Skins in general have owned them and are well ahead in every Off/Def category, except TD's. The D should keep the Lions pinned back pretty much all day. And the Lions fans cannot be too confident-they are under TV blackout.
On the other hand, until they can prove otherwise, Washington is a team that continues to play below the level of their talent.
Want to hear the fans stop booing? How about a TD in say 1 out of 4 visits inside the 10. Two weeks into the season and the team leader in rushing TD's is - Hunter the Punter.
Getting Alridge back should be a boost - I never thought they should have let him go but numbers are numbers. I will be curious to see if he spells Moss as a punt returner. Hail.

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