The Positives through Two Weeks of Play

Now that we’ve had sufficient time to brood over last Sunday’s defeat, let’s take a look at a few of the positives going for the Redskins through two weeks of play:

Donovan McNabb: Anyone who knows me is well aware that I was extremely skeptical when the Redskins acquired him, openly wondering how much he had left in the tank (if anything).

Eight quarters into the season, I’m eating as much crow as possible, and I’m loving it. It’s been 11 years, seven head coaches, and I-can’t-even-tell-you-how-many quarterbacks since we’ve seen a Redskins quarterback throw for 426 yards in a single game. In fact, if McNabb’s deep throw to Joey Galloway in the 4th quarter was about two inches shorter, he would have held the all-time passing record in a single game by a Redskins quarterback.

Needless to say: the revolving door of Redskins QB’s over the year may have come to a halt, at least for the foreseeable future.

Yes, you can point the finger at his sub-50% completion percentage and 171 yard performance against Dallas in the season opener if your intent is to rain on my “We really have a quarterback!” parade, but riddle me this: when is the last time you have seen a Redskins quarterback play with this much poise and confidence, and actually give you that hope of: “as long as this guy is upright, we have a chance?” Honest to God, I can’t say that about a single Redskins quarterback since maybe Mark Rypien in 1991, and even he had the benefit of one of the sickest troikas of running backs in Redskins history.

As I told my cousins who happen to be Eagles fans:on behalf of all Redskins fans, I’d like to thank your organization for their generosity in sending McNabb here to finish out his career. Just one question, though: how’s the Kevin Kolb era working out for you all?

Trent Williams: When I watched Silverback crumple to the ground, slam his fist on the grass in agony while clutching his knee, and let loose a few f-bombs while the trainers examined him, the ominous thought of “ACL tear” and “Out for the season” made me channel my inner Rex Ryan and start swearing like an angry drunken sailor (or Jets coach) myself. Thankfully, it only turned out to be the ambiguous “knee contusion” with a side of toe soreness, minor enough to where there’s even discussion of Williams playing this Sunday (though I highly doubt it will happen).

Look, injuries are a part of the NFL. It happens. And it’s safe to say the Redskins avoided a potentially catastrophic one with Williams, given that it looks like he might miss only a couple of games, tops. If McNabb had to have Stephon Heyer blocking for him for an extended period of time, well then, to put it politely: I hope his medical insurance payments are up to date.

Silverback Williams is the cornerstone of this rebuilding project undertaken by Bruce Allen & Mike Shanahan, and you just couldn’t ask for a better start from a rookie left tackle. So far, he’s been working almost exclusively on an island against two of the best pass rushers in the entire league. Last Sunday, the first time you really heard Mario Williams’ (in my opinion, the most complete defensive end in the NFL) name was when he beat Right Tackle Jammal Brown for a sack. The second time was on the play when Silverback got hurt. The third time was when Mario Williams blew by Stephon Heyer, who blocked Williams’ as well as a stationary folding chair would have.

I’ll say it now: Trent Williams has Tony Boselli-like potential. And praise whatever deity you choose that his development wasn’t stunted by a season-ending injury on Sunday.

Clinton Portis: Yes, the Redskins are dead last in the NFL in rushing offense. I get that. I’m also fully aware that Michael Vick – a quarterback – has outrushed the entire Redskins team.

But when Clinton Portis obliterated Texans Free Safety Eugene Wilson (blocking downfield during the long catch-and-run by Fred Davis) I literally jumped out of my seat and started pumping my fist. To top it off, on the very next play, Portis had the toughness and presence of mind to hold onto the ball after getting blasted himself by Texans linebacker DeMeco Ryans. The next play, Portis punched it in for six.

Here’s another thing the stat sheet won’t tell you: in the 4th quarter, on the drive that would eventually end in Graham Gano’s blocked field goal attempt, Portis was gashing the Texans defense. It was the worst kept secret in the world that on the third and one play deep in Houston territory, Portis was going to run the football, and I guarantee you the reeling Texans wouldn’t have stopped him. Instead, Brown jumps offsides, Davis misses the key block on Bernard Pollard, and Gano’s field goal is blocked.

Expect to see a steady dose of Clinton Portis left, Clinton Portis right, and a little more Portis up the gut this Sunday against the Rams, as the Redskins consciously focus on kick-starting the running game. This is a Shanahan-led footabll team, and I fully expect to see the running game emerge more and more as the season goes on.

Laron Landry: this is the guy we were waiting for when he was drafted in 2007. I’ve seen cruise missiles that inflict less damage on their targets than Landry has this season. There isn’t a single safety in the NFL (not named Troy Polamalu) playing better than Landry right now. He tackles (leads the NFL in that stat), blitzes (14 times last game), and stops ball carriers dead in their tracks.

Once Kareem Moore returns from his injury and Landry can begin playing Strong Safety full time, expect Landry to start destroying ball carriers even more frequently as he plays closer to the line of scrimmage.

Dallas: The Cowboys are 0-2, and looking up at the Redskins in the NFC East standings. After all that hoopla about them being a legitimate Super Bowl contender, they’ve essentially given themselves 9:1 odds at even making the playoffs this season. There’s turmoil, finger-pointing, second-guessing of coaches, players-only meetings, and general pandemonium among the fan base staring at the potential of being 0-3 heading into their bye week.

I absolutely love it. The only thing that could warm my heart more than this would be the Redskins being 2-0.

Leave it to Wade Phillips to leave a gigantic pile of cow dung in the stockings of every Cowboys fan whose Christmas wish was to see their team playing in the Super Bowl at home. As long as Phillips is the coach in “Big D,” the only way the Cowboys are going to the Super Bowl is if they buy their own tickets to watch the game.

This article was written for and cross-posted on RedskinsGab.com

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