Washington Redskins appreciate win in Mike Shanahan's debut, say there's work still to do

Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 14, 2010; 2:00 AM

One season after losing eight games by less than a touchdown, with new Coach Mike Shanahan wearing the headset on the sidelines, the Redskins finally benefited from some generous bounces, squeezing out a six-point win against the Dallas Cowboys in the season opener Sunday night. "We've had so many heartbreaking losses around here," said linebacker London Fletcher. "It's a new era, new Redskins football."

Perhaps, but the new coach warns it's not yet his brand of football.

"Hopefully, 'Shanahan football' will be scoring a few more points," the coach said Monday.

As the Redskins turn their attention to the Houston Texans, their Week 2 opponent, they know there is plenty of room for improvement and many differences between the game plan and their performance.

"We didn't play the way we are capable of winning, so that's a little bit discouraging," said cornerback DeAngelo Hall, the lone Redskin to score a touchdown against Dallas. "We'll learn from this."

Much of the focus will be on the offense this week, which will have to turn up its output to match the Texans' high-powered attack. With Kyle Shanahan as its offensive coordinator, Houston had the league's fourth-ranked offense last year and the top-ranked passing game. The Texans don't appear to have suffered much of a letdown after changing coordinators. In Sunday's 34-24 win over the Indianapolis Colts, they scored four touchdowns.

By comparison, the Redskins' offense didn't find the end zone once, which is unusual for a Mike Shanahan-coached team. In 2008, Shanahan's last year in Denver, his Broncos team scored at least one touchdown every game and 2½ touchdowns per outing. Until Sunday's game, the last time Shanahan's offense was kept out of the end zone entirely was December 2007.

After reviewing tape Monday of the win over the Cowboys, Shanahan didn't seem too concerned about the disparity in performance between his offensive and defensive units.

"There's gonna be games throughout the year where the offense plays well, the defense plays well, special teams," he said. "But at the end of the day, the one thing that really matters, you've got to find a way to win. And if you win in the National Football League, enjoy it. Because it doesn't happen all the time."

While the defense certainly seems to have momentum going into Week 2, the offense also saw several bright spots in Sunday's win. Rookie left tackle Trent Williams mostly held his own against one of the league's best pass rushers, DeMarcus Ware. Shanahan said his first-round draft pick did a "very good job."

"You could see his athletic ability in both the running game and the passing game. To go against DeMarcus Ware throughout the majority of the game was quite impressive," Shanahan said.

The game also marked Donovan McNabb's regular season debut in Redskins colors. While his final numbers didn't earn him any fantasy football awards for the week - 171 yards on 15-of-32 passing - Shanahan liked what he saw, considering it was the first time in 12 years that McNabb has been asked to run a new offense.

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