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Redskins @ Eagles – Fourth Quarter Thoughts

Posted by Matt Terl on November 29, 2009 – 4:22 pm

Another frustrating end to another frustrating game, and it didn’t help at all that I halfway saw it coming at the end of the last post.

For the second straight week, the Redskins took a lead over a division opponent into the fourth quarter, for the second straight week the defense finally ran out of stopping power, and for the second straight week the offense was unable to move the ball down the field for so much as a field goal attempt.

There are probably a lot of causes for these collapses, but as I sit here in the pressbox at Lincoln Financial Field, trying to get this written before the buses leave — for ANOTHER depressing ride to ANOTHER depressing plane flight back to ANOTHER depressing week at Redskins park — there’s just one that’s standing out to me:


Because of injuries, you’ve got guys unable to rotate out, forced to play more minutes in those first three quarters than they’re accustomed to. Which leaves guys tired and worn down when they most need to protect a lead. It also leaves previously healthy guys more susceptible to injury during the fourth quarter, which further depletes the team, and so on. Which is how you win up on a crucial defensive series with Carlos Rogers, Byron Westbrook, and Kevin Barnes as your three corners on the field … with no one healthy at the position on the bench.

Even when your depth guys play well for three quarters, you still need more depth behind that to help keep them going through four. Just the way it is.

I know, I know, it’s the NFL. Next guy’s gotta step up. The front office should’ve had more depth at one position or another. It’s all easy to say now.

But the sheer volume of injuries at this point seems to have outstripped the team’s mathematical ability to keep up. You’ve got undrafted guys from Maryland holding down the right side of the offensive line, which led — despite a game effort from rookie Edwin Williams — to a combined three penalties (plus one more declined). Levi Jones is the third guy to start at left tackle this year, and he had a rough outing today, to say the least. The team was without three Pro Bowlers coming into the game, and briefly lost a fourth, Mike Sellers, to an ankle injury in the fourth quarter. And despite all of that, the offense was 8-for-13 on third downs through three quarters. They just couldn’t sustain it through four, going 0-for-3 in the fourth. The defense saw pretty much the reverse, as the Eagles went 3-for-5 on third down after starting out 2-for-10.

Sure, part of this is on Jason Campbell. You’d like to see him lead that game-winning (or even -tying) drive, and it’s easy to knock him for not doing it. (When the press box TV showed the stat that he’s led 7 such drives in his career, everyone I could hear sounded genuinely startled, and no one could remember all seven.) At the same time, there’s part of me that’s simply impressed that the team manages to be competitive at all after the devastating number of injuries they’ve suffered.

But that still doesn’t make things feel any better as a fan. With the team at 3-8 on the season with the New Orleans Saints coming to town next week, the frustration shows no signs of letting up.

Just because I like positivity, though, I’ll finish with some good news: most of the bright spots today were young guys — guys like Devin Thomas, Fred Davis, Malcolm Kelly, Marcus Mason, Quinton Ganther, even Edwin Williams and Barnes — who may very well be contributing for years to come. They’re getting valuable game experience, and they’re starting to rise to the occasion, no matter how slowly. Again, it’s not the kind of bright side that makes up for the second straight guaranteed non-winning season, but … well, it’s hard to remember any bright sides at all when the games finish like that.

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