We know something old and something new about the Washington Redskins. Are you surprised that they went to Nashville and outlasted the Tennessee Titans 19-16 in overtime? No one in football expected that, apparently. Long-time Redskins followers knew our guys had strength of character. The only question was whether they could suck up last week's shocking loss to Philadelphia enough to steal a win in Tennessee.
The answer is yes.That character counts and that the Redskins have it is old news. So the win is a surprise, but not much of one.
The new lesson is that 'Skins got resilience, for this game anyway.
Washington entered the game without S LaRon Landry or DB Carlos Rogers. That should have put them at great disadvantage going against Randy Moss and the Titans offense. The Redskins lost S Anderson Russell early. Russell was activated as Landry's replacement. But the 'Skins lost LB Rocky McIntosh, OLs Derrick Dockery, Casey Rabach, and Artis Hicks. Lorenzo Alexander when down with a hamstring injury. Santana Moss ran well, but walked with a visible limp.
The biggest loss was Clinton Portis who reinjured his groin early in the game. He was done after five carries for 32 yards.
RB Chad Simpson injured his foot in pregame warm-ups. There must have been a connection between those injuries and the field.
Any two of those injuries would have sunk last year's team. This year's group hung in there to win the game the way the Redskins won most of their others, by keeping the opponent close enough to pull it out in the end.
Tennessee's defense had their way against Washington's make-shift line. They sacked McNabb three times and got 10 quarterback hits. But McNabb did a better job (30/50, 376, 1 TD, 1 INT, 81.8 QB Rating)) against the Titans than Vince Young did against the Redskins. Despite his gaudy 107.6 QB rating, Young tossed for under 200 yards, threw no scoring passes and made Randy Moss irrelevant to the game.
Santana was the best Moss on the field with 106 yards and a score.
Better bench strength
So much of what's been wrong with Washington in the Snyder era has been lack of depth. By following the mantra of win now, the team did not have the bench strength to overcome the inevitable injuries of a 16-game season. But today, back-benchers stepped in and did the job well enough to win.
Will Montgomery may have hastened Casey Rabach's departure as starting center. Keiland Williams is no Clinton Portis, but would you rather see Brian Westbrook in that spot? The Shanahans courted Westbrook, but he preferred to join San Francisco where he has disappeared on the 49er roster.
Westbrook is at the end of his career. Williams has a future in the NFL. That future is ours, unless someone high up in the Redskins organization discounts his value as Washington once did to LB Antonio Pierce and DB Ryan Clark. Westbrook on the roster would have impeded the development of young players like Williams and Ryan Torain. Joey Galloway seems to be in the way of Anthony Armstrong's and Terrance Austin's development.
The test for how much better Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen rebuild the team is their approach to preparing young talent to be starters compared to Snyder-Cerrato and Snyder-Gibbs. Shanahan gets high marks for finding Keiland Williams, but he's always done that with running backs. Lets see him do it wide receivers and offensive linemen with young players who are keepers.
Sleeping on the Redskins
Almost nobody gave Washington a chance to win today. ESPN's Beast blogger Matt Mosley went against the crowd to pick the Redskins. Others were over-impressed by the Eagles game. they assessed the Redskins as though Vinny Cerrato and Jim Zorn were still around.
If there is any value to having a coach like Mike Shanahan, it is his ability to come back from set-backs. More professional football analysts should have given more weight to Shanahan's value and to the character of the team. Shame on them for not doing so. (Redskins Hog Heaven wasn't certain of a win, but we figured the game to be close.)
Vince Young is no Michael Vick. He's no Donovan McNabb, either.
How much does character count? Titans coach Jeff Fisher demoted Vince Young as starting quarterback following Young's post-game outburst. Young reacted badly Jeff Fisher's displeasure at his play. He threw his shoulder pads into the crowd of booing fans after the game and left LP Stadium without speaking to reporters as the league requires.
That's quite a contrast with Donovan McNabb's reaction after being benched in Detroit and after the Eagles beatdown. My colleagues at Total Titans told us of the difference of opinion between Fisher and team owner Bud Adams about Young. Young's unsmooth move may not phase Adams who's been known to flip a bird or two. We didn't see that from McNabb in recent weeks, or from Jason Campbell ever.
AP on NFL.com - Beat-up 'Skins beat Titans in OT; injured Young storms out after confrontation