A team starting a rookie quarterback, rookie running back and playing away would typically spell out disaster. In this case, it instead was a dominating win for the Washington Redskins and rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III, who put on quite a show in New Orleans.
The Saints came into the game with a great motivational boost with the suspensions of Jonathan Vilma and Will Smith being removed. That motivation didn't seem to translate onto the field.
Defensively, there isn't much not to criticize. New defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo was supposed to be the change that was needed after the terrible ending the Saints defense and organization had with Greg Williams.
Instead, Spagnuolo seemed to pick up right were Williams had left off. Robert Griffin III seemed to complete every single pass he threw and looked like an All-Pro veteran in only his first game in the NFL. I do understand that it was the first game of the season and some of New Orleans' key players were either out or playing a little dinged up, but I don't believe that justifies allowing 40 points to a starting rookie quarterback and running back at home.
On offense, it was evident from the get-go that Sean Payton was greatly missed.
The Saints went three-and-out on their first possession, which isn’t uncommon for most teams, but for a team that led the NFL in total offense in 2011, it was a sign of what was to come. The Saints offense only managed to total 358 yards of offense compared to 464 for Washington and were almost doubled in time of possession. They only managed to score two offensive touchdowns all game, which is something that has rarely been seen in the Sean Payton era.
The Saints team as a whole seemed a bit confused and unprepared in the first game of the season. Drew Brees made very uncharacteristic mistakes, and the team never seemed to settle down. It was very evident that the certain preparation that Sean Payton brings to the team was missed, and now it remains to be seen whether the Saints can succeed without him for the remainder of the season.
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