Washington Redskins: Analysis and Observations
You know what yesterday was? Yesterday was fun.
The Washington Redskins defeated the New Orleans Saints 40-32 in a game that was never really close. The Redskins beat the Saints—one of the best teams in the NFL last year. They outplayed them, outhustled them, outcoached them and out-executed them.
Take my fanhood out of the concept and just as a fan of football, you can reflect and say “good for the Washington Redskins.” They deserved that win.
Below are my informal observations of yesterday’s game.
Robert Griffin looked unreal. He utilized his athleticism, his improvisation and poise. Put all of those aspects into one and you have one dangerous quarterback who appears to have some good athletes around him.
Everyone had an opportunity. Eight Redskins recorded a reception and five had a rushing attempt. That’s a balanced attack while keeping their playmakers fresh.
Trent Williams is dominant. I thought he had a great preseason and played even better against New Orleans. I think Williams’ potential is going unnoticed. Of course, Robert Griffin should be given a lot of credit, but his production is incredibly reliant on Williams' ability to keep pass-rushers away.
It wasn’t pretty, but Alfred Morris had a good game. A running back with that downhill style deflates a defense, it tires them out and controls the possession. Despite his heavy production, I would have liked to see Roy Helu get a few more carries. When the Redskins needed to put it away, a Helu breakout run could have emasculated that Saints defense.
Oh, so that’s why we gave Pierre Garcon all that money. Luckily, his injury appears to be minor, but in one half of a game, Garcon showed what the Redskins have been missing for so long; a legitimate and consistent playmaker. Serious debate: What play is more memorable, Clinton Portis’ first run in Washington or the Garcon touchdown?
Of course the game ball was going to Robert Griffin, but hats off to Kyle Shanahan. Seriously, I would hug him right now. From his college style formations, to his play-action calls, screen passes and an overall balanced scheme.
I’ve been critical of him in the past, but that was the best game plan that I’ve witnessed in a long time. The Saints had no idea what hit them. This was a team that was shutout by the Buffalo Bills last season—a defense that just surrendered 41 points to the New York Jets.
So much for Aldrick Robinson being a bubble guy; he was getting reps over Josh Morgan, Santana Moss and Leonard Hankerson. He didn’t disappoint, as he recorded his first touchdown catch. However, I was more impressed with his back shoulder reception and run more than anything. Plays like that will keep you on the field.
Of course Pierre Garcon should be given credit for his 88-yard touchdown catch and run, but it was Josh Morgan who made it happen. He blocked two defenders and cleared the path for the speedster.
After much scrutiny, the offensive line did their job. Tyler Polumbus appears to be a solid right tackle, which leads me to this: Just how much better is the offense with Jammal Brown at right tackle versus Polumbus? Why are we still paying this guy? Cut the cord, Shanny.
In previous articles, I haven’t been particularly fond of Will Montgomery; yesterday was a different story, however. I can say for certain that Will Montgomery didn’t have a lot of experience snapping from the shotgun position before. That said, he was able to make the adjustment and did a great job.
Fred Davis was rather quiet. I’m all for spreading the ball around, but Davis was rarely targeted, only recording two catches and had one drop. He’s arguably the most talented pass catcher on the team, I expected more from him. The same goes for Leonard Hankerson; he didn’t get a lot of playing time, but when he did, he wasn’t targeted.
Yes, Ryan Kerrigan recorded a sack; he could have had three if Drew Brees wasn’t so elusive in the pocket. Kerrigan has a tendency to be overly aggressive at times—that continued to be an issue. Please note that I’m being picky, Kerrigan had a good game, but I’m expecting a 10-plus sack season from him.
Jim Haslett, I owe you a hug as well. He rotated his defensive linemen and it’s about time. Stephen Bowen had a great game and appears to be the best player on the line. Rotating Jarvis Jenkins and Kedric Golston kept the defense fresh and held the Saints' rushing attack at bay.
Josh Wilson is the best cover corner on the team; he’s not going to flash you with standout plays or anything, but the man simply gets the job done.
DeAngelo Hall in the slot? So far, so good. He was able to get a sack on Drew Brees and can be disruptive with his tackling abilities.
Madieu Williams was a lot more physical than I expected. I know that he was flagged for it, but I have no problem with it. No, I am not being insensitive toward player injuries, but hitting a receiver like that can set the tone of the game. Williams isn’t the long-term answer at free safety, but he should be solid all season. As long as he doesn’t give up another touchdown like he did against Lance Moore.
I’m glad DeJon Gomes was given an opportunity to start. He picked up some great experience last season and had a crucial interception against Drew Brees yesterday. In comparison to last year, Gomes seemed more comfortable in this defense. He was very cerebral.
London Fletcher did a great job on Jimmy Graham. On the touchdown play, there was nothing that London could do. He had great coverage on the tight end, but that’s going to happen with a height advantage like that.
Perry Riley had some issues in pass coverage, but that’s to be expected when you try to match up with Darren Sproles. Riley continues to impress against the run.
Creating two turnovers was huge for the defense. They were both momentum swinging plays, which is exactly what a turnover does. Just when I thought the Saints were going to come back and do what they usually do, our secondary made a play.
The secondary was our biggest weakness on the defensive side of the ball, and they shut me up for the time being. Well done.
Special Teams Observations
I love you, Billy Cundiff. If Graham Gano was still our kicker, I don’t think we would have won that game. (Okay maybe we still would have, but not like that). It wasn’t just his four field goals that assured the Redskins the win, it was his kickoffs too. The Saints weren’t able to start with good field position at all this game. This will be huge throughout the season.
Brandon Banks did OK. With his quickness and speed, you would expect Banks to have a big return every game. He was decent.
It wasn’t Sav Rocca’s fault that his punt was blocked. That was a major mishap on the special teams unit. Plays like that can come back to haunt a team, but luckily the offense bailed them out.
Oh, and Nick Sundberg might become a folk hero in Washington since he played with a broken arm. Someone buy that man a beer.