Washington Redskins: 5 Biggest Storylines from Opening Week
There's much reason for football fans to be optimistic in the nation's capital. Chemistry is at a high and distractions are seemingly eliminated. An opportunity for the Redskins to pacify even their harshest critics is emerging.
If it was going to start somewhere, it had to be in Week 1, and they succeeded. Now that the game has sunk in, we can examine five storylines that were highlighted with a win against a hated rival.
Rex Grossman's Impressive Performance
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Amidst much criticism and on a memorable stage, Rex Grossman turned in one of the best performances of his career.
Grossman completed 21-of-34 passes for 305 yards and two touchdowns and compiled a 110.5 passer rating. It was just the fourth time in his career that he finished with a passer rating above 100 in a game.
Though his stat line looks flashy, his play wasn't—and that's music to Redskins fans' ears. Grossman played within his ability, converted key opportunities and managed the game. The results of doing so paid dividends in the win column.
Exemplary Play from Rookies
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The lockout-shortened offseason was supposed to hinder the development of rookies, but someone forgot to tell that to Ryan Kerrigan and Chris Neild.
Kerrigan provided the game-changing play when he batted an Eli Manning pass, snatched it from midair, and then returned it to the end zone and capped off the trifecta. The score gave the Redskins a 21-14 lead and it was all they would need.
Neild also started off his career with a bang by sacking Manning twice. Pressure from the defensive line is a must for the Redskins this season and on Sunday it came from an unlikely place.
If Neild records a sack in next week's matchup, it would surpass the sack total of any Redskins' defensive lineman from 2010.
Fred Davis Is Ready To Prove Himself
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Chris Cooley was not completely healthy on Sunday and it was up to Fred Davis to step up as a security blanket for Rex Grossman.
Davis did that and much more. His size and speed created mismatches all over the field, which ultimately led to a five-catch, 105-yard performance.
With Cooley still ailing, Davis will see an expanded role. Multiple tight end sets will likely be a staple in the Redskins offense for weeks to come; the former second-round pick could be its main benefactor.
The Washington Redskins Miss LaRon Landry
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Reed Doughty started in place of LaRon Landry, who hasn't played since Week 10 of the 2010 season, and it wasn't pretty.
Doughty was targeted early and often by the Giants offense and it worked. Hakeem Nicks beat Doughty deep with a double move and reeled-in a 68-yard catch to set up a touchdown in the first quarter.
Then, with the Giants deep in their own territory, Eli Manning connected with tight end Jake Ballard for 49 yards because Doughty was late to cover after London Fletcher let Ballard loose.
These miscues didn't cost the Redskins the game this time, but this play from Doughty is old news in D.C. Landry could return to action in Week 2, which would be a huge upgrade over the current situation.
Balanced Play-Calling Is Part of a Winning Formula
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Whether that's now a thing of the past entirely remains to be seen, but in Week 1 the Redskins stuck to the ground game despite their inefficiency.
The Redskins ran the ball 26 times in comparison to their 34 pass attempts and averaged just 2.8 yards per carry. But in doing so, the Giants defense was forced to defend the run, which opened plenty of downfield options for a quarterback who loves to go deep.