Washington Redskins Week 1 Review: What Worked and What Needs To Be Fixed
On a beautiful day in Washington D.C., The Redskins did their fans and even the nation proud in the nation's capital. With a lengthy pregame ceremony commemorating the events of 9/11/2001, the Redskins had the look of a team that could contend in 2011. Almost every part of the game they played last Sunday was solid en route to a 28-14 victory over the injury-bitten New York Giants.
In recent years (since 2007), the Redskins have shown almost no signs of life or even a hope of competing with the heavily-favored Giants. In their past seven meetings, the Giants have held the hapless Redskins to very little production on offense and have rampaged through the defense without much effort. This year in Game 1, all that changed.
The Redskins came out with more determination and fire than has been seen in previous years. Although it wasn't perfect, the Redskins looked like a team reborn from just one short year ago. There was plenty to look at in terms of the good, but also what needs to be fixed if the Redskins have hopes of contending in 2011.
What Worked: Rex Grossman
What a start for the much-maligned quarterback. Heading into the season, everyone was certain that coach Mike Shanahan would try to rebuild the position via the draft or free agency. He simply couldn't be serious starting Rex Grossman or John Beck, could he?
As it turned out Shanahan was serious, and Grossman rewarded his coaches' faith by turning in a solid performance. Grossman completed 21 passes on 34 attempts for 305 yards and two touchdowns in his first start since 2007.
Grossman did a great job of managing the game. He showed great downfield vision and was able to limit his turnovers to just one fumble. Grossman looked incredibly comfortable running Mike Shanahan's offense, which could be a good sign as the season progresses.
Needs To Be Fixed: Missed Opportunities
I don't have a picture for this one, but there were two instances in the game where the Redskins missed two big opportunities. The first one being with Anthony Armstrong.
Since coming to the Redskins, Armstrong has showed his big play-ability and has surprised many as the Redskins primary deep man. However, the fact is that he still has had some problems with drops, and they need to stop. The two instances that could have had a huge impact on the game were, in the first quarter when he had a first down and all he had to do was secure the ball. Armstrong ended up dropping the ball and giving the Redskins a long third down to try to convert.
Another instance was in the second half where he had everyone beat deep down the field and promptly dropped the ball once again. Armstrong can be a huge deep threat for the Redskins going forward but must learn to hold on to the ball if he wants to stay relevant in the offense.
In another instance Grossman had Santana Moss wide open deep down the field and simply under threw Moss. If either of these plays connect the game could have been much more in hand than it actually was.
What Worked: Offensive Line Play
A unit that was once the signature of any Washington Redskins team, the offensive line has been under a lot of scrutiny over the last few seasons. The offensive line of the Redskins it seems is always full of holes and seems close to the top of the league in sacks allowed.
This Redskins offensive line had no semblance of any of that. They looked like a strong unit on the field allowing only two sacks on Rex Grossman and not allowing the pass rush of the Giants to constantly disrupt or even get to Rex Grossman.
Needs To Be Fixed: Trent Williams
The first pick of the Mike Shanahan era, has come under a lot of criticism since being drafted. Many thought the Redskins should have gone with Russell Okung out of Oklahoma State as he had more upside than Williams did.
In his first season, Williams played a solid (not great) left tackle for the Redskins. Yet, his first game of his sophmore season, could not have gone much worse. He was constantly being run past by blitzing linebackers and seemed overmatched in some matchups.
Luckily, "Silverbacks" teammates picked him up and helped keep the Giants off Grossman all game. Nevertheless, the Redskins coaching staff and team are looking to Williams to be not only a solid presence on the line, but also a leader for the offensive line. He will need to improve his play going into next week against Arizona.
What Worked: Defensive Play
This must have been a big surprise to every Redskins fan. A unit that was shelled for 59 points in a Monday night disaster last season and was ranked near the bottom of the league in nearly every defensive category last season stepped up big against one of the stronger offensive teams in the NFL.
The defense of the Redskins looked like a solid unit on Sunday. Even with the absence of two of their biggest playmakers (LaRon Landry, and Jarvis Jenkins), the defense still managed a big turnover and seemed to constantly be on Eli Manning's back all game long.
The two biggest performers on Sunday surprisngly came from two rookies. One of them being Ryan Kerrigan who managed to deflect and intercept Eli Manning all in one play; that swung momentum firmly in the direction of the Redskins. Perhaps, more impressive though was the play of seventh-round draft pick Chris Neild, who managed two sacks on the Giants quarterback.
Needs To Be Fixed: Reed Doughty
This could be a critical part of the Redskins defense in the coming weeks. As a big Reed Doughty fan, it's hard for me to say it, but he played awful on Sunday. One play that seemed to stand out was when he was late getting over to cover Jake Ballard deep down the middle of the field.
Doughty has been rather unimpressive in pass coverage during his tenure. However, if indeed LaRon Landry is out for any extended period of time, he will be the guy that the Redskins rely on to cover the deep ball. If indeed this disturbing trend continues, things might get a little dicey in the Redskins defensive backfield.
Week 1 in Conclusion and a Look to the Arizona Cardinals
It was a solid victory in the nation's capital on September 11. Winning by two touchdowns over a division rival is a very strong start. That is not to say there is still plenty to work on going into Week 2 against a revamped Arizona Cardinals team.
The Redskins are facing a very real deep threat in Larry Fitzgerald in Week 2. They also face a new Cardinals quarterback in Kevin Kolb, who looked good, albeit against a weak Carolina defense. The pressure on the quarterback last week was a very strong point, so they must continue that trend next week.
Kolb is a young quarterback and can be mistake-proned when facing pressure. However, if the secondary (more specifically Reed Doughty) play does not improve things could go south very quickly.
Overall, Week 1 was a solid win. Now getting focused on Week 2 and how to stop one of the strongest passing attacks in the league will be key in going 2-0.