On Sunday, the Washington Redskins hosted the New York Giants at FedEx Field in Landover, MD. Many predicted that the outcome would favor the Giants, but the newly redesigned Redskins team was on a mission to prove the media wrong.
Which they did, as the home team pulled off the victory in an unexpected fashion. While the 28-14 win will get most Redskins fans in the same mental state as last year's opening season win over the Cowboys, it begs the question: Could this finally be the year the Redskins are again players in the playoff race?
The win showed some strong points of the Redskins' offense and defense in particular, but also, definitely showed some aspects in which they need to work on.
The Redskins started the contest off slow with two three-and-outs and gave up a 68-yard completion to Hakeem Nicks that led to an easy bootleg touchdown run by Eli Manning. To make matters worse, Graham Gano missed a 38-yeard field goal.
Right before the half with a score of 14-7 in favor of the Giants, however, Rex Grossman led the Redskins to a touchdown with 30 seconds left in the half. This might have been the turning point in the game. From that point on the Redskins went on to score two more touchdowns while holding the Giants scoreless.
What have we learned after this game?
The Redskins Defense is a Force Not to be Messed With
The Redskins defense held the Giants to 75 total rushing yards and denied the Giants access to the first down line on just about every third down (Giants went 1-10 on 3rd Downs). We saw that Ryan Kerrigan can compliment London Fletcher, and Brian Orakpo and the rest of the defensive line can stop the running game and effectively rush the QB.
The Redskins' defensive relentlessness accounted for a total of four sacks, four tackles for losses and seven QB hits. All of this is without mentioning Kerrigan's heads-up second-half interception return for a touchdown. It showed football IQ and an overall good sign of things to come from the rookie first-round pick out of Purdue.
The Running game needs some work:
Tim Hightower had most of the work this week as the running back, but he was unable to make something happen. He had 72 yards and a TD but did not show any signs of greatness. As it stands, he averages 2.9 yards per attempt, which is nothing we should congratulate him for.
It wasn't all negative, though, with him showing that he can handle the workload for the entire game and in addition to a nice 22-yard rush. The competition is on between Hightower and Ryan Torain, but I expect Hightower to remain the feature back behind Grossman for most of the snaps while Torain will substitute in and get some snaps.
Mike Shanahan Made the Right Moves this Offseason:
The Shanahans and the rest of the Redskins administration made some good moves over the offseason with the acquisitions of Tim Hightower, Jabar Gaffney, and O.J. Atogwe (even though this was before the lockout).
They have all proved to be a right match for the Redskins and have a good set of skills that can help the 'Skins improve from last year. The Redskins administration also made the right moves during the draft, with the 'Skins having one of the best drafts, highlighted by Kerrigan who has already proved himself to be maybe even more valuable than what we expected him to be.
The last good decision the Redskins made was having faith in Rex Grossman, who proved to all of his haters that he can be among the starting NFL QBs and succeed. "Sexy Rexy" was also the right choice over the less-experienced John Beck.
Graham Gano Needs to Go
Graham Gano is young and inexperienced. Last year he cost the team a couple of games with his less than par results on the field. He missed many field goals last year, and this year nothing seems to have changed.
In perfect conditions, he missed a 38-yard field goal. I know that 38-yard field goals aren't an easy task, but I fear that this year—where there is a chance of being good—he should not be our kicker, as he is too risky and inconsistent.
The Redskins faithful needs someone we can rely on. Our history with kickers has not been the greatest, but hopefully we can remove the curse of Redskins kickers on this franchise.
This season could finally be the one we have all been waiting for, but that's what we always say.