Washington Redskins: First-Game Woes and Blows

K. D. James@KDamanJCorrespondent ISeptember 14, 2009

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 13:  Usi Umenyiora #72 of the New York Giants returns a fumble recovery for a touchdown against the Washington Redskins on September 13, 2009 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Ugh. To paraphrase 32nd U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's somber words from his speech to Congress on Dec. 7, 1941, but Sept. 13, 2009, should be the day that the Washington Redskins shall live in infamy.

The first game of the season at the Meadowlands was ugly from beginning to start for Washington, losing 23-17 to the New York Giants.

The first drive seemed promising on a big run by Redskins running back Clinton Portis, as he ran past defenders into the Giants' territory early in the first quarter. Then, as those of us in the Washington, D.C., area saw it, that gadget play on a reverse pass to Antwaan Randle El was the game-defining moment.

It caused the Redskins to lose whatever momentum it had at the start, and sapped the excitement and energy of Redskins fans all around, although there were still over 45-50 more minutes to play.

Randle El's jittery legs continue to have failed him as a Redskin, and I don't know why he didn't throw that pass away, instead of losing yardage to an always-hungry New York D.

In fact, after witnessing such a deflating and uninspiring loss, here are five things I noticed (and you may have, too) about the Daniel Snyder-owned team:

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  • Quarterback Jason Campbell, even if he's successful after the first game, may be a goner at the end of the season. He holds onto the football too long and winds back his arm for the ball to be stripped—which is what Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora did to Campbell, resulting in a 37-yard fumble return for a touchdown. He showed some strides, and his stats were pretty much comparable to Eli Manning's. But my gut does not believe that he's got franchise QB material. There's no apparent fire in his eyes, no excitement to rally the troops behind him and pull out a convincing, come-from-behind fourth quarter victory.
  • Cornerback DeAngelo Hall may not be worth more than defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth's contract. Haynesworth made some strides, and was a factor every once and then, including making some crucial stops on the G-men's rushing attack tandem of Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw. But back to Hall: In the preseason game against New England, he was beat twice by WR Randy Moss for long passes that went for touchdowns. And in the first regular game? Pretty much the same: beaten by decent but not great Giants wideouts and poor tackling. The only thing that saved him was that late, second quarter interception off a deflection that led to the Hunter Smith field goal fake run. But for over $50 mil., Hall seems like a nickel cornerback. A No. 2 CB at best.
  • The Redskin defensive ends look old, small, and generally ineffective, compared to the Giant ends. Ends Andre Carter and Philip Daniels hardly pressured the quarterback, and were only able to manage two sacks, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery throughout the game. Yes, the Skins' putrid offense made the defense stay on the field longer than preferred, but help is sorely needed at both left and right ends.
  • WR Santana Moss is as tradeable as Campbell. The chemistry between Campbell and Moss is off and on. Moss is a dynamic player, yes. But when you can only catch fewer than five passes throughout the game, and your most noteworthy moment is a donnybrook with Giants CB Martell Webster, then something is wrong. The team has a big, 6'5" QB. They need bigger targets for Campbell besides tight end Chris Cooley and wide receiver Malcolm Kelly.
  • No one can say that the offensive line did not give Campbell enough time to throw the ball, survey the field, and avoid the constantly aggressive pass rush of the Giants. Yes, the pass rush did make Campbell uncomfortable and unable to get in rhythm. But the O-line, the target of assault last season so far has stood its ground. Grade: B+. The man behind the pocket just has to be better and always aware of his surroundings.