Sunday wasn't a lot of fun. The Redskins came to town and beat us in an ugly game. Neither team played particularly well, but they made more big plays than we did and got the victory. While the game was frustrating, there were some positives to take away.
LeSean McCoy may have played the best game of his young career. He carried the ball 16 times for 64 yards. He caught 12 passes for 110 yards. McCoy basically carried the offense on his back for much of the game. All 12 of his catches were short throws. McCoy did a great job of picking up yards after the catch. He turned short passes into gains of 31, 21 and 13 yards. He blocked well when asked to. Most of those were chip blocks where he was just helping out the offensive tackle. McCoy ran hard between the tackles. He converted a third-and-1 situation. He came close to scoring a touchdown on a run near the goal line. The only complaint with McCoy is his fumble in the third quarter. We had driven into field goal range. Getting three points on that drive would have had a major impact on the rest of the game.
Fullback Owen Schmitt had three catches for 43 yards. He has emerged as a good receiver in his short time with us. Schmitt is a good blocker out in space, but he still needs to work on his lead blocks on isolation run plays. Schmitt did have a couple of good blocks on screen passes where McCoy came up with big gains.
The offensive line only gave up one sack. They generally provided good pass protection. There were some good holes for McCoy to run through. The big fellas also did a good job of blocking on the screen passes that were so effective in the game. The one problem that they did have was penalties. Jason Peters did a good job on Brian Orakpo, but was called twice for holding. Each guard got a holding call in the game as well. We're seeing progress, but the line still has a long way to go.
Rookie Nate Allen continues to play at a high level. He played the run well when down in the box. He tackled well when the ball came his way. Allen also came up with another interception, his third of the year. Last season our entire group of safeties only had five picks all year long.
The defense was very up and down in the game. Linebacker Ernie Sims came up with his first sack as an Eagle. Defensive tackle Mike Patterson had another solid day in the middle of the defense. Washington had success running, but that was mostly to the edges. Quintin Mikell had a rough start to the game, but then ended up leading us with eight solo tackles.
The big story of course was the injury to Michael Vick. That opened the door for Kevin Kolb's return to the field. Kolb's performance certainly wasn't ideal, but he played better than some people are giving him credit for. Kolb led us on a couple of scoring drives. He had us in position for another score when McCoy fumbled. Kolb then had us in position to possibly win the game at the end.
The big problem Kolb had was his inability to get the ball to his wide receivers. Part of that is due to the way Washington played on defense. They focused on shutting down DeSean Jackson and did a good job of taking him away. Still, there were some plays to be had. Kolb kept the chains moving, but the lack of explosive plays meant that drives consumed more time, which isn't good for a team trying to make a comeback. Also, the longer a drive goes on, the more things can go wrong. Just look at McCoy's fumble as a good example.
I'm still a believer in Kevin Kolb. He has to build off Sunday's game. He played well enough to keep us competitive, but we need more from the quarterback. We're not a team built around the running game that wants to win 13-9 slugfests. We need our offense to move the ball and score points. That's our identity.
I know a lot of people are curious about what is going on with our special teams. Bobby April is a guru, but the units haven't played consistently well this year. We gave up a long return to the 'Skins that set up their first touchdown. Breakdowns like that are a huge problem. I think that April is still fine tuning his coverage and return units. He can come up with brilliant ideas, but at some point the players have to execute.
Let's talk about Omar Gaither. The heart of any good special teams unit is linebacker play. They are fast enough to get downfield in a hurry, but also big and strong enough to block and tackle well. You need backup linebackers to be good special teamers. Gaither was inactive against Jacksonville. On Sunday, he was our best player on special teams. I think Gaither got the hint that he needed to make more of an impact.
Moise Fokou has made quite a few tackles on the coverage units as well. He has the potential to be an outstanding special teams player. If he and Gaither can start both playing well, that would make a huge difference for us.
We do have some good pieces already in place. Jason Avant is a quality player. Dimitri Patterson is an outstanding gunner. Rookies Riley Cooper and Kurt Coleman could become very good. Cooper has been a good gunner. Coleman has shown excellent potential. He's an outstanding tackler.
Sav Rocca and David Akers are doing their jobs well. Akers hasn't been asked to kick many field goals, but he nailed a 49-yard kick against Washington. That was impressive on a windy day. Rocca leads the NFC in punting, averaging just over 48 yards per punt.
We're all waiting for DeSean Jackson to break loose with a long punt return, including him. He just hasn't had room to get going. We know he's still an explosive player. I'm not sure if the issue is more with blocking or something that other teams are doing when they punt to him.
We do have the potential to be good on special teams. The players have to be more consistent. April has a great track record so hopefully he's the right man to get them to play well on a regular basis.