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Reflections on Titans vs Redskins

Thanks to Tom for the great liveblog last night with his usual expert insight and commentary. Thanks also to those of you who were able to join in. Here are some of my thoughts on the game.
I was pleasantly surprised to see Rob Bironas doing better on kickoffs than I saw from him in camp. He put both of them three or four yards into the end zone last night. Vaughn didn’t kick quite as far on his one kickoff and missed a chip shot field goal.
My surprise was more than pleasant with the defensive line play, particularly Antwan Odom and Tony Brown. I really liked Odom and KVB switching ends and hope they’ll continue to do that during the season. Odom looked good at LDE, particularly his pass rush, but did jump offsides once. His performance should be taken with a grain of salt, though. Since being drafted three years ago, Odom’s looked good every preseason before tapering off and getting injured.
Brown looked stout against the run and also put on a strong pass rush. He may be laying claim to Randy Starks’ job. Big Albert played better than expected, especially in light of his back problems and the 95 degree heat. The play of those three starters overshadowed KVB, who only played his normal game. Rien Long played a few snaps, which was a surprise. Jesse Mahelona didn’t play well, which was no surprise. His neutral zone infraction was just plain inexcusable.
If anyone would have predicted before the game that one of the lines would play well and the other wouldn’t get the job done, I sure would have bet it would be the opposite of what happened. The o-line was bluntly, underwhelming. I don’t know how much of that was due to the lineup change of Amano for Olson, but it shouldn’t have made a difference since Olson’s been out for over a week and Amano’s been with the team for three years. Worse, Washington doesn’t have a good d-line.
The second team o-line of Loper, Ogden, Harris, Snell and Wand did a better job, although it was against the Redskins’ second teamers. Harris should get plenty of much-needed practice on his shotgun snaps this week.
Chris Brown and LenDale White may not have had much blocking, but they didn’t do much on their own either. Chris Henry had a few holes and hit them hard with some explosion, the only back to do that.
I’ve got mixed feelings on the special teams. The coverage units played well. Cortland Finnegan looked a little like Pacman on one punt return but lost the ball on another. Chris Davis had an 18-yard punt return and Dontrell Moore returned a kick for 21. Michael Griffin and Chris Henry each came close to blocking punts.
Kerry Collins and Tim Rattay performed about as well as could have been expected if you don’t have high expectations of them.
The linebackers played fairly well and I was pleased with Ryan Fowler’s work in the middle. The second unit of Woods, Tulloch and Gardner wasn’t much of a dropoff. Allred, Nande and Toone didn’t do anything to help themselves.
I also have mixed feelings on the secondary. Finnegan was beaten deep once and I couldn’t tell if he was supposed to have safety help (Lamont Thompson) and don’t know if he expected it, but he has the speed to stay with anyone. Nick Harper gambled on undercutting a crossing route and missed. It looked similar to the Archuleta play in St. Louis two years ago, except that McNair made a poor throw that was picked and Campbell made a good throw for a completion. Thompson started at free safety and played decently, as did Calvin Lowry in the second half. Eric King looked good again and I have to believe he’s now well ahead of Waddell, Woolfolk and Smith for the sixth corner/nickleback spot on the roster. Donnie Nickey relieved Chris Hope and made a good hit for an apparent fumble, but it was ruled an incomplete pass instead. Michael Griffin looked bad on one play as he was not only beaten inside but also committed a facemask penalty.
All in all, it was a pretty boring game with plenty of poor play, but worth watching nonetheless.