Redskins vs. Rams: 3 Positives and 3 Negatives from Week 2
The Washington Redskins fell to the St. Louis Rams, 31-28, in a thrilling back-and-forth affair on Sunday. While the Redskins offense moved the ball well, the defense couldn't stop the Rams' attack, and in the end, St. Louis found a way to come out on top.
There were a lot of good things to take away from this loss, and a lot of bad things as well. Here are three positives and three negatives from Week 2.
1. RGIII showed that he's the real deal.
A week after setting the world on fire in his debut against the Saints, Robert Griffin III had another strong performance against the Rams. He went 20-of-29 with a touchdown and an interception and ran for 82 yards and two scores.
He was the Redskins offense, and he played well despite a shaky afternoon from his offensive line and the lack of his No. 1 option, Pierre Garcon. RGIII avoided sacks and kept plays alive, and showed off some amazing touch with a beautiful 68-yard touchdown strike to Leonard Hankerson.
On a day when the Redskins suffered a frustrating defeat, RGIII remained a positive in nearly every way.
2. The running game looks like a legitimate weapon.
I doubted Alfred Morris after his Week 1 effort, but he proved me wrong today. Morris ran with confidence and power and really should have been utilized more. He averaged 5.6 yards per carry and really set the tone on a few drives. He's a big guy and will have a great season if he can continue to hit the hole hard.
RGIII played his part, and the option run was very effective for the second week in a row. Evan Royster got in a little bit on the action, and the Redskins ran for 176 yards one week after gaining 153.
After having such a terrible rushing attack last season, Mike Shanahan seems to have unlocked the potential of his backfield and should look to run the ball more often. It's a weapon that the Redskins are fortunate to have.
3. The defense is creating turnovers.
The Redskins defense was pretty terrible today, but there were bright spots. In particular, the three turnovers the Redskins forced helped keep them in the game. Josh Wilson made a great effort on the first play from scrimmage, taking a fumble 30 yards to the house, and the Redskins forced Sam Bradford into a critical interception deep in the red zone.
Washington forced a couple of turnovers last week and seem to be finding themselves around the ball more often. This defense has had major trouble creating takeaways for the last several years, so it's good to see that they seem to be bucking the trend.
Turnover differential is the most important stat in football, and if the Redskins can force more, they will be within striking distance in every game.
1. The Redskins secondary was a mess.
It wasn't exactly news coming into the season that the Redskins secondary was the team's weakest link. But after a surprisingly strong performance in Week 1, there was hope that maybe this group could overachieve.
As it turns out, the maligned and injured defensive backfield is just as bad as we thought it would be. Sam Bradford seemed to connect with receivers at will and Danny Amendola ran wild through the secondary to the tune of 15 catches for 160 yards.
Washington's defense did a respectable job in the red zone, but there were points in this game when you got the feeling that the Redskins would never get a stop. Keep in mind: The Rams averaged under 13 points per game last season and put up 31 with 452 yards today.
Two key stats: The Redskins' top three tacklers were all players from the secondary, indicating that the ball was caught behind the linebackers far too often. In addition, the Rams were 7-of-12 on third down, including a 3rd-and-11. It was a nightmarish day for a unit that must be shored up if the Redskins have any hope of contending in 2012.
2. Wasted opportunities across the board.
When you score a defensive touchdown on the first play of the game, grab a 21-6 lead and force turnovers to try and even the score at the end, you'd expect to win. But the Redskins failed to capitalize on these opportunities.
Of course, the most egregious missed opportunity came on the second-to-last play in the game. RGIII hit Josh Morgan on a 3rd-and-long, but Morgan failed to turn upfield and secure the first down. Instead, he pivoted and inexplicably tried to gain a few extra yards to the outside. Then, to add insult to injury, he threw a ball in retaliation at Cortland Finnegan, costing the Redskins 15 yards and field-goal position.
3. Where is Fred Davis?
In two games, the Redskins' talented tight end has a total of four catches on nine targets. This season was supposed to be Davis' best as the safety valve for RGIII. But Davis has all but disappeared from the offense. His only significant contribution was a 26-yard reception that was more about RGIII making a spectacular throw than Davis getting open.
The Redskins offense moved the ball well on Sunday, but there were still some bad drives. One of the most troubling stats is the lack of success on third down. The Redskins went 4-of-13 on Sunday and were 4-of-15 against the Saints.
Third down is supposed to be when Davis shows his value. He's supposed to get open to help complete short passes and move the chains.
For some reason, he has failed to even remotely make an impact through the season's first two weeks.
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