After watching the anemic offense and a lack of intensity that defined the preseason, the Burgundy and Gold answered a few questions against the New England Patriots but still left several more on the soggy FedEx turf last Friday night.
For one night at least, Jason Campbell looked like a quarterback who was ready to lead a playoff team. His 13 for 22 209 yard performance was solid, efficient, and had its spectacular moments. He checked down to his third option and found Chris Cooley streaking in the Patriots secondary to set up their touchdown in the first quarter. It was the first wow moment for the starting offense this preseason and when Marcus Mason finally punched the starting unit’s first score of the season there was more a sense of relief than satisfaction.
That drive, however, was a microcosm of what made the night somewhat of a success. Campbell answered some of the questions that had been plaguing him throughout training camp. His statistics validated the answers to his critics but his play did more do answer the detractors who question if he can be a leader. The seven play 91 yard drive in the second quarter that he capped with a four yard TD run did more to strengthen his command in the huddle because the Patriots had just reeled off 17 unanswered points against the supposedly vaunted defense.
Despite the persistent questions, Campbell was the least of the worries against New England. If either Malcolm Kelly or Devin Thomas is supposed to be the answer at number two receiver, who will claim the spot. Kelly dropped a TD pass and finished with only one catch for 11 yards. “Showtime” Thomas showed absolutely nothing with a pedestrian three catches for 36 yards. The answer may be Marko Mitchell, who despite playing against future business leaders of America, scored another touchdown giving him three in two games. Mitchell has as many scores over the last two weeks as the duo of second round picks had catches against the Pats. The time has come to see if he if can play with the first unit.
Tom Brady and Randy Moss made the first team defense look average at best. Lost behind the highlight of Albert Haynesworth landing on Brady was the fact that the pass rush netted a total of one sack and DeAngelo Hall was abused by Moss for two scores. The New England passing attack schooled Washington’s defense and made coordinator Greg Blatche defensive on the TV post game show.
There is nothing to be taken from the fake season finale against Jacksonville Thursday night. A win will be defined more by getting the few starters who actually play through the game without injury. However, even after a full preseason and a $100 million offseason investment, there are too many remaining questions. Unless there is a crystal ball in Ashburn the questions in the secondary, on the offensive line, and special teams won’t be answered until the season opener against the New York Giants.
By the way, that Burgundy and Gold crystal ball is now wrapped in a Black and Gold terrible towel after it was purchased by a fan on Stub Hub.
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