A year ago, the Washington Redskins' season unraveled in part because of New York Giants defensive end Michael Strahan. The Redskins couldn't block him in their 1998 season opener, and Strahan sent Washington on its way to an 0-7 beginning.
The Redskins assigned rookie right tackle Jon Jansen to Strahan today, and Jansen did his part in helping the Redskins to a 50-21 pounding of the Giants.
"They're one of the most physical teams in the league," Jansen said. "We knew the style of play we had to play with, and we were able to do it."
Jansen didn't gloat about his performance, or even declare victory in his matchup with Strahan. The Redskins helped Jansen when they could, and the Giants regularly move Strahan around to try to avoid double-team blocking. Still, the Giants went without a sack today, and Jansen's play in his second NFL game was one of the keys to the Redskins' offensive performance.
"It was Round One," said Jansen, the Redskins' second-round selection in April's draft from Michigan. "We'll have Round Two this year, and more in the following years. I won some today, and he won some."
The Redskins entered the season knowing they had a potentially special quarterback in Brad Johnson. But they couldn't be certain about what they'd get from their offensive line, running back Stephen Davis or starting wide receivers Michael Westbrook and Albert Connell. The early returns have been promising on all fronts as the Redskins offense has totaled 85 points and 899 yards in two games.
"This is a whole new offense with a lot of weapons," said Redskins defensive end Marco Coleman, who faced his current teammates last season as a member of the San Diego Chargers.
The Redskins rebuilt their offensive line after it surrendered a franchise-record 61 sacks last season, and so far the unit has done the job. Johnson has been sacked twice, both in the season-opening overtime loss to the Dallas Cowboys, and usually has had time to look downfield. The blockers also have managed to open holes for Davis, who had 126 rushing yards and three touchdowns today.
"We've got a lot of guys who can make plays," Davis said. "We were clicking today. The offensive line opened up some holes for the running game and gave Brad some time to throw, and we showed what we can do. We ran the same plays we normally do. We just executed them."
Davis has had career-best running performances in back-to-back weeks and, after beating out Skip Hicks in training camp for the starting tailback job, has 235 rushing yards and five touchdowns in two games this season. He entered the season with 815 rushing yards and five touchdowns in his three-year NFL career.
"He hits the holes, and he hits them hard," Jansen said. "He doesn't dance around. If there's not a hole there, he makes one."
Westbrook provided his second touchdown catch in two games, and he and Connell combined for eight catches against the Giants. Westbrook said he knew all along, even when others were raising doubts about the team's offense, that the Redskins would be able to move the ball and score points this season.
"We saw it from the start," Westbrook said. "Everyone else said, 'You don't have [Seattle's Joey] Galloway or this guy or that guy and blah, blah, blah.' But we saw it."
Coach Norv Turner said: "If you score the kind of points we're scoring, you have to say you're surprised. There was no question in my mind the parts were there. The quarterback brings it together. Everyone is feeding off Brad right now."