Washington Redskins: 5 Positives from the Defeat to the Baltimore Ravens
But there were plenty of positives on display during the Redskins' tough 34-31 reverse. The first team units more than held their own against a quality Ravens squad.
The Redskins' commanding first-half performance offers a lot of encouragement regarding their prospects during the regular season.
Here are the five biggest positives to emerge from last night's contest.
5. O.J. Atogwe's Versatility
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The signing of O.J. Atogwe was largely overshadowed by the decisive moves made by the Redskins to fortify the trenches once the lockout was lifted.
But Otogwe offered enough evidence last night that he might eventually turn out to be Washington's smartest acquisition this offseason.
Atogwe was initially lauded for his coverage abilities and the freedom he will provide to run forcers LaRon Landry and Reed Doughty.
But the former St. Louis Rams ball hawk demonstrated a varied skill set against the Ravens. Atogwe proved his own proficiency against the run with some fierce first-quarter tackles.
He also showed how valuable and effective he will be as a blitzer in Jim Haslett's aggressive schemes. Haslett sent Atogwe through the middle in tandem with a linebacker on more than one occasion.
The ex-Stanford standout's ability to act as a center fielder, as well as to provide a threat closer to the line of scrimmage, increases the flexibility of the Redskins' defense.
4. The Redskins Could Be Dangerous at Wide Receiver
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One of the most pleasing aspects from last night's game was the effectiveness of the Redskins' starting receivers.
Both Anthony Armstrong and Santana Moss enjoyed strong first-half outings. Moss was a constant threat thanks to some intelligent route running.
Armstrong produced some nice catches and also showed he still has the knack for the big play. There were also encouraging signs from Jabar Gaffney as he adjusts to Kyle Shanahan's scheme.
With some more consistent and decisive play from the quarterback position, the Redskins' passing attack could surprise many this season.
3. Ryan Kerrigan Should Be a Big Asset for the Front Seven
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First-round draft choice Ryan Kerrigan showed enough last night to indicate he will be a highly productive player in the Redskins' 3-4 system.
Kerrigan was impressive rushing the passer, notching a first-half sack. The former Purdue star uses tremendous strength and aggression when coming off the edge.
Kerrigan also looked to be a force in the run game. He was particularly impressive moving across the line of scrimmage and chasing plays down from behind.
A few offside calls in third-down situations were the only blemishes on Kerrigan's promising performance.
2. Jim Haslett's Confident Play Calling
While there is still plenty of work to be done, Jim Haslett appears a lot more confident calling the 3-4 defense in Year 2.
More suitable personnel has clearly made a big difference to Haslett. The Redskins' defensive coordinator was particularly aggressive in his play selection last night.
Alternating between cover-2 and cover-3 shells, Haslett called multiple blitzes out of the base front. He was not afraid to send three and four rushers on a single play.
The defense may not yet be ready to return to the ranks of the league's elite. But on this evidence, the unit should be more exciting than it has been in recent years.
1. Genuine Big-Play Capability on Both Sides of the Ball
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Perhaps the most encouraging thing to emerge from yesterday's contest was the evidence of the big-play potential the Redskins now possess. On both sides of the ball, the Redskins now have the ability to turn a game in an instant.
Defensively, the multiple pressure calls, combined with improved zone techniques in the secondary, threaten a turnover on most pass plays.
On offense increased speed is the key. Tim Hightower may still frustratingly look like an all-or-nothing runner, but this shouldn't detract from his ability to go the distance.
Hightower's straight-ahead speed makes him a lethal threat on the Redskins' zone stretch plays. Kyle Shanahan's clever play calls and willingness to test teams deep should lead to lots of big plays this season.
After carving out a healthy early lead, it's disappointing that the Redskins were unable to seal victory. But Mike Shanahan's revamped roster offered enough evidence to suggest the franchise is much further along the road back to respectability.