Sunday, September 9, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Redskins 40, Saints 32
By Dan Graziano
NEW ORLEANS -- A few thoughts from the Washington Redskins' stunning 40-32 season-opening victory over the Saints in the Superdome.
What it means: A complete statement game from the Redskins and rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III, who authored a debut for the ages in one of the toughest places in the entire league for a visiting quarterback to play. The Redskins' offensive game plan was designed to maximize Griffin's strengths, and he executed it very well. He was 6-for-6 on an opening field goal drive on which he didn't throw one pass beyond the line of scrimmage, and on the first play of the second possession he hit Pierre Garcon for an 88-yard touchdown pass. For the rest of the day, the Redskins called rollout after rollout, using Griffin's outstanding speed to keep him in space and out of the way of the New Orleans pass rush, and he consistently made good decisions and accurate throws downfield. If Redskins fans wanted to wrap up their day excited about their future with Griffin as the franchise quarterback, they got their wish.
The other side of the ball: The Redskins' defense also looked very good. They threw a number of different looks at Drew Brees, using defensive backs to blitz and dropping linemen into coverage. The defensive backs looked good in coverage, too, which was something of a surprise. They hung with Marques Colston and the receivers and broke up several deep passes. The Redskins' best defensive maneuver in this game was their remarkable time-of-possession advantage, as they were able to keep Brees off the field for long stretches. But when the defense was on the field, it appeared to have fresh legs and made plenty of plays.
The other rookie: Sixth-round draft pick Alfred Morris got the start at running back and got the bulk of the work all day. He appears to be an excellent fit in an offense that asks its running backs to make one cut and get upfield as quickly as possible. He did some tough inside running and started to break off bigger chunks of yards in the second half. It wouldn't be a surprise if the Redskins stuck with him as the starter for the foreseeable future.
Injuries: Garcon left the game with a foot injury in the second quarter and did not return. Rookie safety Jordan Bernstine was carted off the field with a right knee injury in the fourth quarter. If Bernstine is out for a while, the Redskins may have to go out and find another safety.
Booming leg: New kicker Billy Cundiff was brought in because of his ability to kick the ball through the back of the end zone on kickoffs, and he delivered with six touchbacks out of eight kickoffs. Cundiff also connected on all four of his field goal attempts, the longest of which was 41 yards.
What needs work: They had some issues in the punting game. Sav Rocca had one blocked in the second quarter that gave the Saints a touchdown just before halftime, and there was a bad snap on a fourth-quarter punt that resulted in a circus play and a couple of penalties for illegal activity downfield. You have to wonder about the downfield passing game if Garcon has to miss time. Griffin threw to a wide variety of targets, but Garcon is the one who looks most like a game-breaker.
What's next: The Redskins travel to St. Louis, where they'll play the Rams at 4:05 p.m. ET on Sunday.