Cynically, you could argue that the Redskins gave away whatever edge they brought into a game when DeAngelo Hall and LaRon Landry were caught making light issue of the concussion that DeSean Jackson sustained in Week 6. No one is going to confuse Hall or Landry for two of the wiser players on the Redskins, so perhaps it would be wise to gag order these two for the rest of the season. The Eagles clearly came back out of the locker room ready to stick it to the Redskins, and both Hall and Landry were posterized by a picture perfect Michael Vick bomb in this game. It was the perfect measure of revenge for the Eagles against two of the Redskins more grating trash talkers.
I think that narrative is nice and all, as we could all learn a lesson in humility from the humbling of the Redskins' secondary by Vick, Jackson, Maclin and the Eagles. However, when you look at reasons the Eagles went for seven offensive touchdowns and beat the Redskins 59-24 in this one, neither Hall nor Landry was a major per-play contributor in this loss. They could have both made two critical pass breakups instead of allowing the longest TDs of the day, and the Eagles would have still put up at least a 40 spot on the Redskins without really going after Hall or Landry on this day. Anything in addition was just icing on the cake. Landry and Hall both made a bunch of good plays for the Redskins in this game up around the line of scrimmage. So it's not like those two didn't come ready to back up their words. Their mistake was that they did the trash talking for an entire unit that would find itself overmatched in this game.
The biggest thing that did the Redskins in probably wasn't Vick as much as it was the playcalling onslaught brought by the Eagles against a defense that played the entire game on its heels. The Eagles mixed screen passes with bootlegs, shotgun runs, downfield bombs, and simple west coast quick hitters. It's tough to get pressure on Vick when you can't tell before the play where the heck he is going to set up. In this game, the Eagles never gave the Redskins a chance to get in the face of Vick off the snap. With the defense in absolutely no rhythm whatsoever, Vick was able to accomplish the rest.
Before we go and completely write off this defensive performance as a complete waste of our time, let me ask a rhetorical question: which Eagles skill player do you think had the best day? I mean, the Eagles put up near 600 yards of total offense, surely, someone besides Vick was carrying the load?
Well, Vick didn't throw the 2 TD bombs to himself, but both Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson were largely quiet after Vick outthrew the coverage to make those plays. The Redskins more or less handled the passing game to the edges in this one. As far as for who had the best performance, you probably have your pick between Jerome Harrison and Jason Avant. It's easy to say the Redskins were beat by Vick, but it's hard to say they were beat by the Eagles' best weapons. Did Brent Celek play in this game?
I thought the Redskins did a pretty good job in coverage this game, because Vick had to get deep into his progression on most plays. He still threw for 333 in the air, but those 333 were far less damaging to the Redskins' opportunities to win than the 80 yards on the ground Vick added in every single critical situation, moving the chains with ease.
On the second half TD to Avant when Vick stayed alive and inside the pocket for 8+ seconds before making the throw to Avant across the field, what can you say? It's not like they dropped coverage, they just failed to get Vick on the ground. This game was essentially an extended failure by Rocky McIntosh, by Lorenzo Alexander, Andre Carter, and Brian Orakpo to get ballcarriers to the ground, allowing the extension of drives that always ended in the end zone by the Eagles.
The Redskins won't see Vick again this year, which means that Lorenzo Alexander doesn't have to spend the next six days trying to chase around a video game character on the practice field. However, the struggles of the Redskins to ever get anywhere near Vick in this one is potentially indicative of a bigger problem. Right now, the Redskins' primary pass rush unit is a three or four man group involving Albert Haynesworth, Andre Carter, Kedric Golston, and Adam Carriker. When you take out Haynesworth and Carter and make that a three man rush with Kemoeatu, the Redskins really have a problem. There is very little in terms of pass rush that those three can get on opposing QB, and rarely do they rush in a way where one of them would represent a contain defender of any sort. Adding Brian Orakpo to that group isn't going to change very much, especially since Orakpo is typically a contain rusher in that scheme instead of a freelancer.
These rush schemes make no sense unless the Redskins have been compensating for a fairly serious Brian Orakpo injury since the Bears game. I'm starting to lean towards that conclusion. Orakpo is beating absolutely no one when he does rush, and he's a weak player in his current role of short coverage and interior run fits. I can't imagine that Jim Haslett would be using Brian Orakpo as he is if Orakpo was 100%. But even if he was being used like this, I've never seen him this quiet for three straight games. He had two sacks against Chicago, so if you took the under, you won it in that game. He has done hardly anything against Detroit and Philadelphia (3 pressures, total, no sacks).
The Redskins devised one rush scheme that worked in this game, when they lined up two rushers very wide in second or third and long to come from the outside at Vick. It's a defensive look that Vick couldn't solve. He was sacked by Carter on it, pressured by Carter, Holliday, hit by McIntosh, and twice by Haynesworth out of this very effective four man rush concept. Luckily for the Eagles, they were in 2nd and long...pretty much never. An unbelieveable 12 out of the first 16 Eagles plays were 1st down plays where the Eagles get to dictate to the defense. It's long been Andy Reid's most dangerous down as a playcaller, and because the Redskins couldn't stop anything, the Eagles stayed in first down for the entire first quarter.
The Redskins first blitz came on the first play of the second quarter, which you might remember as being a 48 yard touchdown to Maclin. The Redskins couldn't get close with their blitz packages, and they couldn't force a throw with a three man rush. That conundrum, combined with mostly a poor use of personnel in the four man rush concepts, is why Vick made uncontested throws for four quarters in this game.
So while DeAngelo Hall and LaRon Landry may draw the ire of many for their actions and perceived performance in this game, you can lay the blame for the Eagles explosion at this one on guys like Kareem Moore, on Rocky McIntosh, on the slick footing which really screwed the Redskins on open field scampers by Vick, and on Brian Orakpo who has absolutely disappeared from the defensive schemes. If you want to, you can blame Albert Haynesworth for loafing on the 22 or so snaps he played in this one. If you can ignore the scoreboard, there were match-ups the Redskins defense won: London Fletcher on Brent Celek, Adam Carriker on Nick Cole, Carlos Rogers on whoever lined up against him, Phillip Buchanon on DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin.
There are problems that need solving. In the case of Kareem Moore and Rocky McIntosh, we may just be looking at two guys who have been exposed as players who can't play at an NFL level. Phillip Daniels is at the end of his career. Kedric Golston is being used in a way his skill set doesn't allow for. He can't be useful in this defensive scheme.
The Redskins need to find some sort of pass rush that they've lacked since the beginning of the season, when LaRon Landry and Brian Orakpo were all over quarterbacks. I like the three man rush from a strategic perspective, but 3 man rushes only work when you can set Brian Orakpo loose on a side to himself. In the current manifestation of the Skins defense, it's Albert Haynesworth who has been THE guy freeing up Andre Carter to sack quarterbacks. Once a game isn't good enough as far as creating sacks. However, with Orakpo pretty much a non-factor, it's roughly as much as the Redskins can expect to bring down the opposing quarterback.
Michael Vick likely had the best passing day anyone will have against the Redskins defense, but I'm worried about this unit for the first time this year. Not pressuring Vick is one thing. At this point, can the Redskins get pressure on anyone? Are they even still trying? In both cases, it's hard to say right now.