Yes, it's been quite a while since I wrote anything, I won't bore you with the details, but suffice it to say that while I've been busy, I haven't stopped following football, and the Washington Redskins in particular.
Like many Skins' fans, I was not particularly impressed with the performance with which the team opened the season. I do however believe there are some very good things to be taken from it.
While I very much expected the Redskins' offense to struggle, I didn't expect the defense to struggle, and that bothered me. I know, the defense only gave up one touchdown, but their play in the defensive backfield was appalling. The defensive front applied a fair amount of pressure on Giants' quarterback Eli Manning with only one sack to show for it. With the Redskins' corners playing so far off the Giants' receivers, Manning had easy decisions to make on a regular basis. And it showed in several long drives for the Giants offense.
Kudos to the Redskins for playing so well in short yardage situations, the Giants were only able to accumulate 103 yards rushing, at a 3.3 yard average, that's good line play from the Redskins' defensive front. A very good sign.
I will be surprised if Redskins' defensive coordinator Greg Blache allows his corners to play 8-12 yards off the ball again. With the defensive front the Redskins can supply, there must be some effort to interrupt receivers' routes at the line of scrimmage, or the many upcoming quality quarterbacks on the schedule will enjoy the same type of success Manning did.
Offensively, Clinton Portis was held very much in check(along with the running game in general). Aside from Portis' opening run of 34 yards, his average of under 1.9 yards per carry is bad enough to ruin any offense. The Giants defense obviously played a major role in the Redskins' inability to run the ball, but the running game needs to remain a strength for the Redskins.
Pass protection for Redskins' quarterback Jason Campbell was better than respectable, and this leads me into one of the positives I got from this game. Only allowing three sacks in a game in which they played from behind from beginning to end against the Giants' defensive front is not a bad thing.
Aside from Campbell's bonehead interception, he played well. Throwing the ball only 26 times, completing 19 for 211 yards, I felt he threw the ball decisively and accurately. The Giants' defense focused on preventing big plays, but Campbell was able to find the holes in the Giants' defense and take advantage of them. Campbell's performance should serve as a confidence builder for himself, the offense as a whole, and for Zorn. Because of this, perhaps Zorn won't be so reluctant to throw the ball more in the future.
The Redskins' offense has suffered from defenses challenging the line of scrimmage to stop the run, and has not been able to make defenses pay in the passing game. I see signs that this is about to change. With second year wide receivers Malcolm Kelly and Devin Thomas coming on, veteran Antwaan Randle El playing the slot as well as any receiver in the NFL, this offense has true potential to be tapped.
Obviously, time will tell, and it starts with the St. Louis Rams, a team the Redskins should handle easily. Jim Zorn should be able to use this game as an additional confidence builder, and be able to get Thomas and Kelly more involved. Once the passing game is productive, the running game will open up again. The Redskins should have handled the Rams easily last season as well, but found a way to lose anyway.
I don't think that happens again on Sunday, and we'll see a bit more of what this Redskins' offense can become.
That's my take, the positive one, if all of what we saw against the Giants becomes habit, I'll be writing about that too, but for now, I'll be looking for positives.