Sunday, September 10, 2006

Week One: Solid Win over Texans

Despite a 1st Quarter where the Birds looked uncomfortable at best to be out on the field, Reid and the coaching staff got the team back on track halfway through the 2nd Quarter and never looked back. Here are some of the things that stood out to me:

*Running Game - From what I saw today, I have to do a mea culpa on any criticism I've had about this aspect of the offense (at least from what I saw in this game). Not only did The Brook and Buck do some crafty running and the O-line do a fantastic job opening the holes, but more importantly, Big Red did a great job DESIGNING the run plays. Several misdirection plays showed some creativity and played to McNabb's athleticism - haven't seen this run scheme in a long time, and it was effective and fun to watch. What a relief to see something new...missing Brad Childress? nahhh. Are you Nega-heads sold yet or should we still be worried (other than your normal worrying, Popstar)? The solid run game also set up the play action passes, which leads me to my next note...

*Donte Stallworth and the WRs - After one game, I'm convinced he's the real deal. He showed amazing hands and put up big numbers without really knowing the offense yet. The fake by McNabb on Stallworth's TD was soooo sweet - wow, I'm impressed with the execution and the creativity of this type of play. I was disappointed not to see more production from Reggie and nothing from Baskett, although one of the things the Texans did well was cover our WRs, which leads me to my next note...

*The O-line - Another impressive aspect today was our O-Line. The holes were big and the pass protection was great. McNabb put up great numbers and had ALL day to pass. I was wondering why he couldn't seem to find open WRs...any thoughts on that? Was it just the coverage or are we reckoning back to the days of yore when Pinky and Thrash were blanketed? The WRs are going to have to do a better job getting some separation because they were frequently covered like rugs and McNabb had to force the ball at times, one of which led to an interception and another almost led to one.

*Defensive Backs - They improved in the second half, but looked God-awful in the first half. The D-line was stopping the run, and started getting to Carr later in the game. Carr looked like an All-star at times during the game and it seemed to be from some blown coverages by the secondary. Anyway, I hope we're not flip-flopping problems from last year to this year - good line, bad DBs. I'm sure JJ will work to correct the problems soon enough...but what happened to Lito today - Recurring injury with the ankle?

All in all, great game plan by Reid, and McNabb looked sharp too - he did everything he was supposed to do today. We usually get a slow start each year, so this is a promising win and not much, if anything here to complain about. What say ye?


Blogger Dave Popstar said...

Okay, some random, non-linear thoughts:

I think the greatest thing about that game was the Birds' drive at the very end of the second quarter. An actual hurry-up offense. A real two-minute drill -- and in less than a minute. We started at our own 20 with 1:03 left, and Reggie scored with 11 seconds left. We went 80 yards in 5 plays. AND, even more importantly, with an extremely important McNabb scramble for 10 yards. The drive was essentially flawless. Should be a very big confidence booster. Hell, it was for me.

It's great to see both our OL and DL really dominate.

And largely because of our OL, DMac has looked more and more comfortable sitting in the pocket during preseason, and he looked great today. Even when he had to move around, he did so very well -- and it looks like he's ready to actually use his feet again. Hopefully it will be a routine thing. As Paulomon has long said (with which I have always agreed) they need to incorporate some designed runs for him. If nothing else, he needs to run at least once a game to keep the defense honest. Anyway, I thought he looked very good.

Okay, that said, I'm still not psyched about how our secondary played. Seemed like the Texans' WRs had at least a step on us each time. And where was Dawk?

I'm starting to like McCoy, especially because of his intensity, but am still a little concerned about his size. Right now, I sort of consider him to be a cross between Jason Short and Sim. He flies around, sometimes with reckless abandon, but also sometimes gets driven back a few yards. I get the impression he's still improving and will get better with flying around and getting better angles on people.

I am also still a little concerned about using Westy so much. Hey, if there were no durability concerns, I'd want to use him on every play. But do we really need to use him as much? I mean, returning punts really makes me nervous. He had 21 touches (17 rushing and 4 receiving), not counting his 3 punt returns. Sure, that's not a huge amount, especially for a 'starting' back, but maybe we should be letting Buckhalter shoulder some of the load?

And speaking of Bucky, I really liked the way he looked. He went 8 for 50 rushing (and we'll forget the 1 reception he had for -1). Even if he hadn't had such a devastating history with injuries it was a solid performance.

The little I focused on Tapeh impressed me too. He sure blocks a hell of a lot better than Parry.

And the other greatest thing about today -- the Cowgirls lost. AND as I write this, the gnats are losing 0-6...

9/10/2006 9:20 PM  
Blogger Dave Popstar said...

One more thing -- has anyone noticed that all of the bird teams won today? The Eagles, Falcons, Seahawks, Ravens and Cardinals.

9/10/2006 9:23 PM  
Blogger Leeks555 said...

We cannot forget that we were playing the Texans. Next week is a whole different story. We need our secondary to get their act together. Plaxico and Shockey are relentless when they're relatively open. In addition, Plaxico is 6'5'' with an incredible vertical and our corners are nowhere near his height. Next week is going to be TOUGH.

9/10/2006 10:13 PM  
Blogger Dave Popstar said...

...And two more important stats from the game (otherwise known as "stats we never woulda seen last season"):

We passed 35 times, and rushed 30 times. Of course, Big Red seems to consider short screen passes akin to runs, and that makes sense, so if you count those as runs, we might be rushing over 50% of the time. (Altho I think we were still lopsided with passes in the first half). Bottom line -- the variety worked extremely well. As I think Westbrook said after the game, the safeties have to respect the run, which is why the safety bit on DMac's awesome play action and left Stallworth open in the endzone...

And the other stat: we converted 8 of 13 third downs. That's huge.

9/11/2006 7:21 AM  
Blogger KES said...

Something I personally look for in the first game of the season:
They looked and played with discpline. There were not many penalties, miscues, or big mistakes. They were pretty solid all around.

A lot of of teams lost games yesterday because of mistakes, penalties and big miscues. That is a big thing for opening day IMO.

9/11/2006 7:39 AM  

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