Great performance by the D, of course, which held the ‘Skins to 217 yards and 11 first downs.  Here are a few scattered observations.

–Great job by the D-tackles, especially Big Fred, who looks like he’s matured into a near-star at the age of 31.  The solid D-tackle rotation of Robbins, Cofield, and Alford is an unsung aspect of the great job Jerry (and Ernie) did building this defense.  Last year, our DVOA against the run was -8.5%, 10th best in the league.  A lot of the credit for that goes to the D-tackles. 

–Bryan Kehl, the rookie linebacker from BYU, rotated every other series with Gerris Wilkinson.  With all due respect to Gerris, this has to get you excited about the prospect of grooming two young ‘backers.  Kehl contributed in his first NFL game with 5 tackles, while Gerris had 4.

It’s all part of an overall philosophy of getting as many guys involved as possible, according to this article by Mike Garafolo in the Star-Ledger.  We used all four ends on Thursday (the starters plus Wynn and McDougle), and five wide receivers caught passes. 

Here are Colonel Tom’s thoughts on the matter:

“We know it’s a marathon, not a sprint, and you’re going to need everybody.  You need everybody involved right from the get-go, and we had this rotation going in a few spots a year ago.  We like what we saw from it, and we probably can develop this a little more, to be honest with you, where we can get some other people involved.” 

This is a good approach that fits well with the depth we have on the roster.  (Why this depth of good athletes hasn’t translated into good coverage teams, I don’t know)  This is basically about hedging for injuries, which of course are inevitable.  Like, we don’t want Gerris to have gotten all the snaps and then go down in Week 12, leaving us with an inexperienced rookie in his place.

–How good did Aaron Ross and Corey Webster look?  My friend Wong, with whom I watched the game, made a great point about how although Ross is good athlete, he does a great job playing within his athletic limitations.  For instance, he takes smart angles on tackles and is smart about wrapping up and not going for the big hit or flashy submarine.  And what an awesome blitzer that dude has turned out to be… 

A-Ross had eight tackles and made a beautiful play on that endzone deep-ball to Moss.  Although he got beat on the Moss touchdown, 1) he got picked by a crossing pattern; and 2) it seemed like his assignment on the play was asking a little too much of him.  Following Santana Moss across the field in single coverage with no help in sight?  That’s tough.

As for Webster, he made a beautiful play just before the touchdown when he leapt up to tip the ball on the Campbell bootleg, possibly breaking up a touchdown.  He also made a nice play on the ‘Skins first drive of the second half when, on 3rd an 8, he closed on Moss and made the tackle after he caught the ball a couple yards before the first down marker. 

Webster’s clearly still learning, but dude’s athletic potential is unlimited.  It amazes me what a good athlete he is – the best word to describe him is rangy.

–Speaking of rangy, and speaking of dudes with unlimited athletic potential, Kiwanuka was all over the place, making 6 tackles, 4 of them solo. 

As far as the pass rush goes, I think he can be counted on to pick up a lot of the slack left by Strahan and Osi’s absence.  What I’m more concerned about is his ability to anchor at the point of attack on running plays – the ‘Nuke-man is tall, and doesn’t have a low center of gravity, the proverbial “sand in his pants.”

And after the Samuels incident, I’m also worried that this guy might be injury prone.  He’s one of those tall, long-limbed dudes who I can see being susceptible to taking shots and being nicked up, kind of like Shockey and Jacobs. 

And yes, I thought was Samuels did was out of line.  At first I thought that he just took him down cleanly, but I watched it again and he brought his upper body down on ‘Nuke’s leg.  I don’t think it was intentional dirtiness – it was more instinctive than that – but it was out of line just the same. 

–Kenny Phillips made a big tackle on special teams and got significant burn.  (And yes, the coverage teams were horrendous.)  You have to think that this guy is gonna be one our more prominent defensive players by the middle of the season.

–This is old news, but how effective are our blitzes these days?  Do you remember our blitzes under Tim Lewis, when everyone watching on TV and their mothers knew what was coming?  Spags is the man.