WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – The Redskins scored 20 unanswered points to close Monday night’s season-opening loss, but it wasn’t enough to erase a horrendous first half that saw the team outgained by 247 yards. Here is some of the good, the bad and the ugly from Washington’s week-one setback at the hands of the Philadelphia Eagles.
— On a night when the Redskins missed way too many tackles, Perry Riley was a steadying influence. Riley made a game-high 15 stops, while registering his first sack of the season and a pair of quarterback hits. The fourth-year inside linebacker also recovered a fumble during Washington’s second half resurgence. Riley used his plus-speed to be around the ball most of the night. He was Washington’s most impactful defender in a disappointing performance.
— Ryan Kerrigan was disruptive prior to leaving Monday’s game with concussion-like symptoms. (As of late Monday night he was still being evaluated for a possible concussion). Two of Kerrigan’s eight tackles were for-loss, he also tallied a sack, a quarterback hit and a forced fumble. The third-year veteran’s effort stood out when the Redskins were down big, at one point making a tackle on relentless pursuit from the backside of a play that saw LeSean McCoy break two tackles.
— Jordan Reed played better than he had at any point during the preseason, catching five passes for 38 yards on six targets. He showed athleticism while hurdling a defender to pick up a first down on one catch and made a lunging reception on a low throw on another occasion. There are people within the Redskins’ organization who think Reed can become an elite pass-catcher. Last night was terrific debut for the Florida product.
— Leonard Hankerson caught two touchdown passes for the second time in four games. His 80 receiving yards led the Redskins and he was the only player on the team that hauled in a pair of receptions longer than 25-yards. He fought one of the footballs he caught in the middle of the field and was called for a false start penalty, so Hankerson’s performance wasn’t flawless – but he was a major contributor to Washington’s strong fourth quarter.
— Robert Griffin’s fourth quarter numbers (15-of-21, 169 yards, 2 touchdowns) were aided by the Eagles playing a lax. That said, you could still see that he was playing much better late in the game. He was more accurate, less timid in the pocket, more willing to scramble and much more eager to extend plays. He located oncoming rushers and avoided forcing passes, two issues that plagued him early on. Washington’s offense played an embarrassing first half on national television but Griffin and his unit were able to avoid a completely disastrous first week with a stellar final frame.
— Griffin’s first half was his most pedestrian as a professional. He might be healthy but he wasn’t himself. He struggled with his accuracy and looked hesitant in the pocket, often unable to locate blitzing defenders early enough to have eluded them by breaking the pocket with the mobility that made him so special last season. He played like a quarterback who hadn’t been on the field in a situation that mattered in eight months. Griffin clearly got better as the night progressed, but it took him a few quarters to get into sync with his offense. His perceived lack of explosiveness wasn’t as alarming as the poor decision he made on his first interception, a throw he avoided making in a five-pick rookie campaign.
— Alfred Morris played his worst NFL game. He fumbled his first carry of the night and was unable to corral a pitch in the endzone that resulted in a safety on a game ultimately decided by just six points. Washington fell behind so big that Morris wasn’t on the field much in the second half to make amends for his rough start, with Roy Helu and Washington’s spread offense on the field to operate pass-first.
— Missed tackles plagued Washington’s defense. Safeties Bacarri Rambo and EJ Biggers were among the culprits, both struggled to get ball-carriers to the ground in space with consistent circuitous angles. But the problems went beyond just Washington’s safeties. LeSean McCoy proved slippery all night, gaining yards after contact throughout the game.
— Chris Thompson made a few rookie mistakes in the return game. The debuting running back’s ominous night contributed to Washington initiating 10 of 13 drives inside its own 20. Thompson fair caught a punt inside the five yard-line and brought multiple kicks out of the deep endzone that he wasn’t able to return to the 20.
— Pass protection broke down several times, resulting in three Eagles sacks and nine quarterback hits. As Griffin gets back into the flow of game action he’ll better decipher where pressure is coming from and as he gets his explosiveness back he will avoid oncoming defenders more effectively and that will help Washington’s offensive front.
— Washington committed three turnovers. The Redskins gave the ball away 14 total times in 16 games last season. Griffin was intercepted twice after throwing just five picks last year. His first gaffe came on a throw he shouldn’t have made, into triple coverage intended for a receiver that was well covered. Morris lost a fumble and dropped a pitch as well. It was odd to see a guy who was incessantly reliable as a rookie have such a poor first half on Monday night. Uncharacteristic.
— The Redskins committed 10 penalties in Monday’s loss. That’s five or six too many. Seventy yards in flags can cripple you, and that was the case on Monday night. Three false starts, three holds, a horse collar, a grounding, an illegal block, an illegal shift and an offsides all contributed to the club’s first setback.
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