Silver Linings from the Washington Redskins' Week 1 Loss
The Washington Redskins' Monday night loss was a devastating crash back to reality for fans who had been flying high on hopes that their team looked ready to take the next step towards a championship. There were many takeaways from the game. While the negatives outweighed the positives, every cloud has its silver lining.
Leonard Hankerson held on to the ball whenever it was thrown his way
It was only one game, but Hankerson had an impressive showing, catching five of his seven targets for 80 yards and two touchdowns.
Hankerson's problem has always been his inconsistent hands. He's got size, speed and is an asset in the run game. If he can shore up his problem with drops, it won't be long before he surpasses Josh Morgan on the depth chart.
In his post-game press conference, Mike Shanahan praised Hankerson for his route running as well and told ESPN.com, "What a lot of people don’t see is the route’s he is running and when he doesn’t get the ball and he’s open. That’s what you are impressed with."
There were no serious injuries
This may seem pretty minor, but if the Redskins had lost one of their key starters, that story would have dwarfed the loss.
Every week the team stays healthy they improve as a unit. Last year, every member of the offensive line started every game with the exception of Tyler Polumbus missing Week 16. The result was the No. 1 rushing attack in the entire league.
Griffin clearly lacked chemistry with his offense Monday night. The more practices all players take part in, the quicker Griffin and Co. will be able to improve.
The defense made adjustments in the second half
The first half of the game, it seemed Chip Kelly's high-tempo offense could do no wrong. Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy put up 26 points and 322 yards of offense on 53 plays. Assisted by a fumble, an interception and a botched pitch in the Redskins' own end zone, the Eagles put on a show that had the Redskins defense on their heels.
In the second half, the Eagles were not nearly as effective. It's possible the offense wore itself out running so many plays early. Or, perhaps the Redskins offense provided the defense with enough time on the bench to regain their breath and make some stops.
Watching the film, the Redskins changed their approach in how they attacked the Eagles' option-based offense. The front seven pressed the line of scrimmage, limiting McCoy's effectiveness, forcing the Eagles into more 3rd-and-longs.
The Redskins also blitzed more, using late line shifts to create free rushers that led to more pressure on Vick, as well as multiple holding penalties.
The defense was caught off guard early, but Jim Haslett is an expert at half-time adjustments that will prove invaluable in close games later this season.
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