Mike Shanahan must take his team down a peg or two to prepare the Washington Redskins for the Saint Louis Rams. That's where those underpaid quality control assistants (and future NFL coaches) come in handy. They've charted all the player performances and organized them by down and distance for the coach who can now deliver this message to the team – you weren't that good against the Saints.
Play like that, men, and you will never beat the Rams, winners of three of the last five games against the Redskins.
Fans don't get the secret sauce. Fortunately, Football Outsiders gives us something close in their breakdown of the Redskins-Saints game. FO asks, "isn't instant stardom [for RG3] a bit much?"
"... neither the Saints or the Redskins actually played all that great this weekend. Actually, the Saints 'outplayed' the Redskins in the eyes of our system, but lost."
The Redskins did not run the ball all that well per FO's analysis. The Shanahan's handled Robert Griffin III with kid gloves. Griffin attempted only three passes beyond the scrimmage line in the first half. One was the 88-yard touchdown pass to Pierre Garçon. Even that was a medium distance throw with the majority of the yards coming after the catch. That's why Garçon is here.
FO notes that the Saints defensive end did not buy the play-action fake and brought pressure on the play. Griffin did well to get the ball away, but it was a Josh Morgan block on Roman Harper that sprung Garçon for the distance.
The Redskins were up against a cupcake defense. FO ranked the Saints dead last in preseason defensive DVOA. They ranked the Rams D marginally higher at No. 30. Washington's defense entered the season ranked sixth by FO's calculation.
New Orleans is all about offense, of course. That's why they were the prohibitive favorites against Washington. The Saints played Saints ball. Drew Brees was badly let down by his receivers (looking at you, Marques Colston, and thank you).
The Saints defended the run well against a rookie quarterback and rookie running back. As for pass defense, "An injury-riddled secondary with a poor pass rush is a combination that can make a lot of quarterbacks look good -- let alone one who actually is good."
Griffin played his role in a simplified offense with aplomb. FO was suitably impressed. They saw enough in Griffin's play to assert that he lived up to the hype, unlike so many other high profile signings by the Redskins.
Fans should be less impressed by the new Orleans win than we are. The Redskins did not perform well enough to sleep on the Rams, as has happened in the past. That's the message players heard this morning in their team meetings.