A new era in Washington sports started today as Robert Griffin III took the field for the first time as the Redskins starting quarterback.The Redskins started their season on the road against the New Orleans Saints and I have to admit, I picked the Saints to win. Well, I was wrong. The Redskins dropped 40 points on the Saints, but had to hold on to win 40-32.
Griffin was impressive in his professional debut completing his first 8 passes en route to going 19/26 for 320 yards and two TDs. He also ran for 42 yards on 10 rushes. I liked the poise Griffin displayed in the pocket. He never seemed to get rattled and made smart plays all day long. I’m not ready to put him in the Hall of Fame or name him an All Pro just quite yet, but he’s off to a good start. He went against a quality opponent, on the road and more than held his own.
Griffin was helped by a defense that played well for 3 quarters. They held Drew Brees and the Saints offense to four 3 and outs and sacked the All Pro QB twice while forcing 3 turnovers including a touchdown saving fumble and a game ending interception. They did give up two touchdown drives in the 4th quarter, but were solid otherwise.
Overall I was impressed with the team as a whole which is not something I’m used to saying. I (of course) do have some issues with today’s game. I don’t like how many running plays were called for Griffin. You mortgage your future to draft this guy and you’re going to have him run the option repeatedly? That’s a recipe for disaster. I was happy to see Griffin not take as many hits as he did during the preseason though. The special teams was not special. Billy Cundiff had a nice start to his Redskins career as he went 4/4 in FGs and was consistently putting his kickoffs deep into the endzone, if not out, but the Saints were able to average over 34 yards per KO return. The Redskins, thankfully, didn’t have to punt very often. Their first one was blocked and returned for a touchdown. Dany Smith, the special teams coach, is often referred to as one of the best ST coaches in the league, but I don’t buy it. How many kicks did the Redskins have blocked last season and then to have your first punt this season blocked? That’s not very good. I could coach that.
The offensive line held up well and the WRs did a good job today. Aldrick Robinson stepped in well after Pierre Garçon hurt his foot and Santana Moss was his normal steady self. Rookie Alfred Morris got the start at running back after his standout preseason and continued his hot streak gaining 96 yards and 2 touchdowns on 28 carries.
This is just one game in a long season so I’ll remain optimistically guarded about how well the Redskins will do this season. Back in April I predicted they would go 6-10 and I’m sticking with that even after this first win. They will need to play more consistently and not sit back and get too conservative when they get the lead. Yes, they scored 10 points each quarter, but the play calling got more conservative as the game went on and the prevent defense almost prevented a win.
The Redskins travel to St Louis to play the Rams next week. The Rams lost a tough one to Detroit today as their defense gave Matt Stafford early fits and intercepted him 3 times. It’s a game that, before the season, I would have predicted the Redskins would win. I’m sticking with that and look forward to starting the season 2-0.