NFL Nation: Josh Bidwell
What I didn't like: The Skins had success in the running game in the first half but that dried up in the second half. It's pretty apparent that Ryan Torain is more explosive than Clinton Portis and that's an indictment on how coach Mike Shanahan approached this season. Quarterback Donovan McNabb is used to performing without the help of a consistent running game but at least he had the threat of Brian Westbrook when he was in Philly. On Sunday, he had to rely on Santana Moss and Chris Cooley, and that made the Skins one-dimensional for much of the game. Of course, the fumble by Moss early in the game put the Skins in a hole. You can't allow a bad team to hang around and that's what the Skins did. I've watched Jackson's 42-yard touchdown run several times and it looked like safety Kareem Moore had a clean shot at him. It also looks like everyone on the field overpursued the ball, allowing him to make a nice cut and race for the end zone.
Goat: I think you have to go with the entire defense. This unit was supposed to be a strength but the Redskins allowed rookie quarterback Sam Bradford to find a rhythm and didn't consistently knock him down. Brian Orakpo had the one sack but they didn't seem to intimidate Bradford at all. He and McNabb basically had the same numbers and that spelled trouble for the Skins. On offense, the Redskins definitely missed Trent Williams, but you have to be able to overcome that type of adversity.
"Special" teams issues: Losing punter Josh Bidwell in pregame warmups was an absolute killer. Kicker Graham Gano did his best, but Keiland Williams didn't help him out by whiffing on a block. The blocked punt gave the Rams a huge momentum play and inspired a crowd that has forgotten what it's like to see its team win at home.
What's next: McNabb will return to Philadelphia with the Eagles riding high. We'll write a ridiculous amount about McNabb's homecoming, but the main storyline is that Washington's season is already on the line. Even in this watered-down division, a 1-3 record would be disastrous. And there's nothing that occurred in St. Louis that pointed toward the Skins pulling off an upset against the Eagles. This looked a lot like the team that lost on the road to the Lions last season. And this should not have been a trap game for the Redskins. The Rams had stayed close in their first two games and Spagnulo's an excellent coach.
Obviously, the Redskins have struggled in the kicking game. Bidwell has a big leg but the hip injury would concern me a great deal.
The Cowboys' place-kicker, Nick Folk, entered the 2010 season with a hip injury and the results were disastrous. Punters put even more stress on their hips than place-kickers, so this is something that bears watching.
In other news, the NFL will not announce the schedules for the opening-weekend and Thanksgiving games today. Hopefully that will happen Wednesday.
That process has started in Tampa Bay. The Bucs just announced they’ve released punters Josh Bidwell and Dirk Johnson and cornerback Torrie Cox. Bidwell joined the Bucs in 2004, but spent last season on the injured reserve list. Johnson was brought in as one of his replacements, but he also got injured. Cox had been with the Bucs since 2003, primarily as a special-teams player.
Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas
We're down to the punters in our series of NFC South position rankings. The return men will come Wednesday before we move on to coaches and the front office.
But let's not sell the punters short. This spot might be one of the division's strongest areas. The first three guys in the rankings each drew serious consideration for the top spot. Here they are:
1. Michael Koenen, Atlanta. His coverage unit helped a lot, but opponents had only 49 return yards on Koenen last season. No wonder the Falcons used the franchise tag on their punter.
2. Josh Bidwell, Tampa Bay. Has the strongest leg in the division. Would be in the top spot if Koenen and the Falcons had given up more in returns.
3. Jason Baker, Carolina. The division's most consistent punter. Baker's averaged over 44 yards a punt each of the last three seasons and, mercifully, has helped the world forget Todd Sauerbrun ever was in Carolina.
4. Glenn Pakulak. The guy is only eight games into his NFL career, but he did average 47.7 yards a punt last year. The Saints like his leg strength, but used a fifth-round pick on Thomas Morestead because they aren't sure about Pakulak's consistency.
Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas
Kickers and punters pretty much have been ignored by the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Although some guys who kicked and played other positions have been inducted, Jan Stenerud is the only true kicker to ever make it.
That's not likely to change any time soon, but there finally is a place for kickers and punters to be honored. Rick Sang founded the American Football Kicking Hall of Fame last year and it probably won't be long before the NFC South has some strong representation.
With that in mind, I've decided to pick the best kicker and punter in the history of each NFC South franchise.
Kicker: Morten Andersen. This one's incredibly easy. Andersen spent 13 seasons with the Saints and some would make a case he's the best kicker ever.
Punter: Tommy Barnhardt. Mark Royals had a couple of great seasons with the Saints, but Barnhardt gets the nod because of longevity.
Kicker: Morten Andersen. Yes, he gets the award for the Falcons, too. Andersen did two stints with the Falcons and spent eight seasons with them.
Punter: John James. The Falcons have a great punter right now in Michael Koenen. But James a three-time Pro Bowler back in the 1970s.
Kicker: John Kasay. This one's as easy as picking Anderson for the Saints and Falcons. Kasay has been with the Panthers since their start in 1995 and has been their kicker throughout their existence, except for a little time off because of injuries. He's been as steady as they come and could kick well into his 40s.
Punter: Todd Sauerbrun. This guy is the best punter to ever walk the planet. But he's a tragic story. In a league that's willing to overlook a lot, Sauerbrun can't even get a job because of his repeated off-field problems.
Punter: Josh Bidwell. Again, I'm going with the incumbent. After looking at the history of Tampa Bay's punters, that's really the only choice.
Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas
Some notes from around the NFC South.
Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden said the Bucs got some good news on linebacker Derrick Brooks, who suffered a rib injury Sunday. Gruden said Brooks' injury isn't as serious as first thought. Brooks didn't practice, but Gruden said he's hopeful the linebacker can continue his streak of playing in every game since coming to the NFL in 1995.
Gruden also said he hopes Jeff Garcia (calf) will be ready to start Sunday. Garcia practiced on a limited basis, but the Bucs changed up their practice schedule a bit to get backups Brian Griese and Luke McCown some work with the first team. Defensive ends Gaines Adams and Stylez (formerly Greg) White and offensive lineman Jeremy Zuttah were limited in practice. Defensive tackles Jovan Haye and Chris Hovan, who had been bothered by injuries, were able to practice. Punter Josh Bidwell did not practice because of an illness.
Carolina's in danger of having a defensive starter miss a game for the first time this season. Defensive tackle Maake Kemoeatu (ankle) missed Wednesday's practice. Offensive guard Keydrick Vincent (groin) also missed practice. Darwin Walker would be the likely starter if Kemoeatu can't go and Geoff Hangartner is the top backup at guard.
ESPN Stats & Information passed along some notes on Carolina's road record. The Panthers are 3-3 on the road, but the wins have come against teams (Chargers, Raiders and Packers) that currently are a combined 14-28. Carolina's three losses (all on the road) are against teams (Vikings, Bucs and Falcons) that currently have winning records. Carolina's losses have all been by double digits and quarterback Jake Delhomme has thrown just one touchdown in those three games. Delhomme's passer rating at home is 100.8. On the road, it's 63.3.
Left tackle Jammal Brown returned to practice after missing last week's game with an injury. The Saints also signed cornerback Michael Lehan off Miami's practice squad to fill the roster spot that came open after the Saints placed Reggie Bush on the injured reserve list.
For those who have been asking for Atlanta's playoff scenarios since about Week 10, the NFL finally has sent out an official list of ways the Falcons can get into the playoffs this week.
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