New Year, Same Results So Far

While Jason Campbell is a year older than when the Redskins lost to the Giants in last season's opener, his command of the offense wasn't decidedly better.
While Jason Campbell is a year older than when the Redskins lost to the Giants in last season's opener, his command of the offense wasn't decidedly better. (By John Mcdonnell -- The Washington Post)
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By Thomas Boswell
Monday, September 14, 2009

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. The Redskins got preliminary answers to their big offseason questions Sunday in Giants Stadium. Unfortunately for them, the preliminary answers all were "no." Or, at best, "not yet."

Has Jason Campbell improved dramatically in Jim Zorn's West Coast offense? Has Albert Haynesworth transformed the Redskins' anemic pass rush? Have the Redskins found a second wide receiver to open up their deep passing game? And has the broken offensive line, whose pass blocking collapsed late in '08, been fixed?

There's nothing definitive about any season opener. Still, early results were worthy of concern. None of these areas showed appreciable improvement. As a result, the Redskins fell behind quickly by 17 points and trailed by 13 with fewer than two minutes left to play. Seldom has a team's modest margin of defeat been more deceptively respectable.

Essentially, the Redskins' offense didn't arrive in Giants Stadium until there were only three minutes left. So, the Giants built a massive edge in time of possession and had a 350-200 superiority in yards before the Redskins drove 72 yards against a loose defense to score with 1 minute 37 seconds left.

Only a special-teams touchdown, scored on a fake field goal run by holder Hunter Smith, and a field goal after a DeAngelo Hall interception deep into New York territory, kept the game in hand. Except for their final drive, the Redskins' offense did not generate a touchdown and only had one march inside the Giants 43-yard line.

"Everybody probably turned the TV off," said running back Clinton Portis, proud that the Redskins kept fighting.

With their dignity intact, something that has often not been the case in the nasty Meadowlands, the Redskins will approach the next five weeks -- the soft part of their schedule -- with their morale still high.

"We felt like we played right there with 'em," Campbell said.

"We're not discouraged at all. We're a better team than we showed today. Eli Manning said [to me] after the game, 'We had a tough start in '07.' But they won the Super Bowl."

When the Giants try to lift your spirits, is it time to worry?

Campbell still has tons of work to do in mastering Zorn's version of the West Coast offense, especially in the red zone. As the Redskins fell behind 17-0, Campbell did not create a touchdown -- for the Redskins, that is. However, he did produce one for the Giants when he was stripped of the ball in the pocket and watched as New York's Osi Umenyiora, who caused and recovered the fumble, returned it 37 yards for a touchdown.

While the game was still in the hat, Campbell never got untracked. By the time the Giants hit a short field goal for a 23-10 lead with 3:12 to play, Campbell had passed for only 145 yards with one interception and two fumbles, one lost. However, his final drive, completing 5 for 6 for 66 yards, including a 17-yard score to Chris Cooley, raised, or padded, his quarterback rating to 93.6.

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