It was all a mirage. The Washington Redskins’ defense collapsed against a Philadelphia Eagles’ college offense that worked magic for one half but won’t last in the NFL.
The Redskins’ offense needed a half for quarterback Robert Griffin III to shake off the rust from having no preseason snaps after his offseason surgery. By the second half, he was working his own spellbinding scores. Then again, the Eagles were ahead 26-7 and simply giving up garbage-time touchdowns.
Many of the problems the Redskins had in their opening 33-27 loss to Philadelphia on Monday won’t be seen when they travel to Green Bay on Sunday.
The Redskins weren’t ready, and some of that was on the staff. Coach Mike Shanahan’s reluctance to risk starters to preseason injury led to the offense making critical early mistakes, like two fumbles — one of which resulted in a safety.
Griffin wasn’t medically cleared to play during the preseason, but the remaining offensive starters looked rusty, too. Too many missed blocks and squandered opportunities. The unit had no rhythm before halftime.
The defense was lucky not to trail 21-0 early. Cornerback DeAngelo Hall confessed that the team was dead wrong in its preparation for Philadelphia.
“They just had us off-balance the whole game,” Hall said. “There were a couple times when we thought it was one thing, it was something else. I didn’t think that offense would be like that.
“When you’re wrong, you’re wrong.”
The Redskins were the unlucky ones to be the first team to face the Eagles under new coach Chip Kelly’s Oregon offense designed for 90 plays per game.
Philadelphia ran five snaps in the first 80 seconds, 30 over the first quarter and 53 by halftime. If the Eagles hadn’t seemed so tired in the second half, they could have continued abusing the Redskins. Philadelphia would have scored 50 if they stayed aggressive.
Missing way too many open-field tackles and generating no interior defensive push didn’t help, but the Redskins were also caught unprepared. There’s no excuse.
The meltdown even extended to special teams. Rookie returner Chris Thompson made two poor decisions and kicker Kai Forbath missed his first field goal attempt after converting 17 of 18 last year.
Washington basically blew the game every way it could and still almost won. The fact that so many freaky things converged is a positive as the Redskins head to Green Bay as a touchdown underdog.
The team won’t face as frantic of an offense in the Packers (though Green Bay is probably more talented). Griffin and the offense should be better meshed, too.
The Philadelphia loss involved a lot of smoke and mirrors, but Washington clearly remains a playoff contender.