Eagles @ Redskins: The good, the bad and the costly

The Redskins lost their opening game of the season for the 4th time under Jay Gruden. That’s becoming pretty bothersome now. Here are my takeaways from the game:

The Good

  • Kendall Fuller was exceptional in this game. He had a few nice pass breakups and was a beast sniffing out screen plays and stopping them dead (including the backward pass turnover).
  • Josh Norman also played very well. Almost had an acrobatic pick on the first drive and broke up a pass to Alshon Jeffery where he must have lept what seemed 4 yards through the air to get his hand to the ball. Redskins don’t have anybody else who can do that.
  • Chris Thompson makes things happen when he touches the ball. He ran it three times.
  • Kerrigan made plays, as he reliably does. Had a sack, a superb tackle for loss at the end of the first half, and of course the pick six
  • Ryan Grant was the best receiver, and I don’t think it was that close
  • Jonathan Allen looks beastly in run defense
  • Zach Brown looks equally beastly, and these two guys combined single-handedly (double-handedly?) made the defense looks extremely competent in stopping the Eagles rush attack
  • Kirk the runner. There was a drive midway through the 3rd quarter where Kirk showed exactly what he’s capable of using his legs. He evaded pressure and scrambled for a first down, ran a great read option run, then had another nice moment where he flushed from the pocket to evade pressure again. More of this please.

The Bad

  • Kirk the passer. A lot of the time it simply wasn’t his fault (see below) for the barrage of pressure he faced, but almost everything he threw long was off. Over-throws, throws behind, not seeing open guys. It wasn’t good, but it reminded me of exactly how he opened the season for the first few games in 2016.
  • Offensive line – in particular Lauvao, Scherff and Moses had very poor games. Scherff was beaten soundly to cause the Kirk “fumble”, Lauvao was destroyed on a play in the early 3rd that led to a sack. Brandon Graham gave Moses fits all game long.
  • The officials. I don’t care for the justification, it was a pass (Mike Pereira agrees)
  • Terrelle Pryor reassured fans after a pre-season plagued by drops by saying “I don’t drop passes”. He dropped two passes in this game.
  • Josh Doctson. Whether they have a plan to get him ready or not, he’s supposed to be producing for this team immediately and garnered 0 targets. He played a total of 20 snaps.
  • Both safeties had a dreadful game in coverage. Any time Wentz went deep, which he seemed to do every time he pulled a magic Houdini-like sack escape from the bag.
  • Breeland on kick returns. Cut that out.

The Costly

  • Redskins were -2 in the turnover battle, including a redzone turnover. Three of the turnovers were extremely costly – the muffed punt leading to Eagles starting at the WAS 39 (ended in touchdown), the redzone interception and the “fumble” for a touchdown. That’s effectively a minimum of an 18 point swing in favour of the Eagles.
  • Eagles were 8-14 on 3rd downs. This problem was responsible for the Redskins defense being the worst in the league last season, and so far doesn’t look to be any better.
  • Redskins were 3-11 on 3rd downs and 0-2 in the Red Zone. Without a highly productive offense, if we are to assume the defense still can’t get teams off the field, we’re looking at a potential recipe for disaster.
  • Redskins ran the ball four times in the second half. Four. That despite being down by less than a score for most of it.
  • Ryan Anderson had a dumb penalty that negated Junior Galette’s first sack in over two years. A sack he richly deserved if nothing else.

Final Takeaway

The 30-17 score is misleading – this was a close game. The Redskins had the ball with two minutes remaining down by five points. That said, it would be remiss of me to say they would have really deserved to win, even if they did pull off the comeback. The Eagles were better prepared and out-executed the Redskins is most areas of the field. Ultimately though to me, this looked like a game between two 8-ish wins teams that could have gone either way depending on what day of the week it is.

The more worrying aspect for me is what is to come. The Rams suddenly don’t look like a pushover. If the Redskins were to drop to 0-2 having played one decent team and one up-and-coming team, they then face the Raiders and Chiefs next – two legitimately good teams. Week Two seems impossibly early to pull out the “must win” label, but we could be staring at ugly scenes if they don’t find a way to get to 1-1.

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