The Washington Redskins opened the season on a victorious note and showed plenty of positives, but were far from perfect against the New York Giants.
Certainly there have been improvements across the board. There’s a new attitude, an improved focus, as the players have been saying since training camp began.
The offense was able to finish drives. The defense was able to get off the field in timely fashion over and over again. It forced punts on six of the Giants’ 11 possessions and thwarted two other series with a stop on fourth down and a blocked field goal.
But the win should be taken with a grain of salt. The Giants are a battered team, and it showed, particularly on defense. The Redskins, meanwhile, have several areas that still require improvement, regardless of who they face.
Here are five observations from Sunday’s 28-14 victory.
1.) Missed chances on offense -- The Redskins showed that Kyle Shanahan’s system certainly can work. They put together some nice drives and ate up clock. But Rex Grossman and Co. must improve their consistency. Grossman missed a wide open Santana Moss and Jabar Gaffney, underthrew Gaffney another time and led Anthony Armstrong out of bounds on another pass. Later Armstrong got open and Grossman made a great throw but Armstrong dropped the ball. Washington can’t always get away with missing on so many potential big plays.
2.) O-line still needs work – Rex Grossman was hit – and hit hard several times – on Sunday. The Giants sacked him four times and put a hit on him another seven times. Trent Williams let Jason Pierre-Paul get inside him a couple of times, Kory Lichtensteiger and Will Montgomery had their struggles on the interior, and Chris Chester and Jammal Brown weren’t perfect, either. Not exactly encouraging given that the Giants weren’t at full strength and didn’t even blitz as much as they could have.
3.) Rushing yards hard to come by -- This is the offensive line’s responsibility as well. Washington averaged only 2.9 yards a carry, and the long was a 22-yard burst from Tim Hightower. We saw some of this in the preseason. Hightower would have some short, hard-fought gains and then he’d have some home run hits. The Redskins need more three, four and five-yard gains sprinkled in between those big runs.
4.) Problems in the secondary -- Reed Doughty is a solid player but didn’t have a very good game in place of LaRon Landry. He whiffed on some tackles at the line, and he is not at his best when having to play downfield and cover. The Giants were able to pick on Josh Wilson with some smoke routes in the first half. They went away from that in the second half, and went in DeAngelo Hall’s direction for those same plays. D-Hall made the stops, however. He was a bright spot down the stretch with some big tackles.
5.) Gano’s inaccuracy – Graham Gano followed up a perfect preseason by missing a 39 field goal. Although he did well on kickoffs, you’ve got to be able to count on your kicker, especially for a field goal inside 40. Special teams coach Danny Smith wasn’t completely confident in Gano entering camp, but he beat out the competition during the preseason. He’s lucky that those missed three points didn’t end up costing the Redskins. The kicker very well could be on a short leash.