Russell: Redskins earn a great Week 1 report card

Chris Russell
September 10, 2018 - 6:29 am

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports


The Redskins not only won their first season opener in exactly six years on Sunday, but they simply destroyed and dominated the Arizona Cardinals in a very tough environment.

Washington’s 24-6 blowout win was satisfying and very surprising. Admit it, you were surprised, too.

Now for our first regular season report card as the Redskins are tied for first place in the NFC East to start the year.

Offense - B: I cannot give the Redskins offense an “A” grade, because in the second half they only scored three points and turned the ball over late after a big catch-and-run by Adrian Peterson.

In the first half, the Redskins racked up 261 net yards, 21 points and were 5-7 on third down.

They controlled the ball for just shy of 23 minutes in time of possession.

After halftime, the Redskins were only able to generate 168 net yards of offense, with 52 coming on that Peterson play before the turnover when the game was essentially over.

Alex Smith was sharp with two touchdown passes in his debut (21-30, 255 passing yards, 118.1 passer rating).

On his touchdown throw to Chris Thompson, he slid nicely to his left to buy a better angle for the pass, and then fired a low dart for a score to Jordan Reed just before halftime.

Peterson recorded 166 total yards and a score, and the Redskins more than doubled the Cardinals net-yardage output (429 to 213). 

A couple of concerns: Josh Doctson only had one catch for 11 yards on three targets. The wide receiver group, which was already banged up becuase of Maurice Harris' concussion, suffered two more injuries with rookies Cam Sims and Trey Quinn both set for MRI's on Monday after dealing with ankle injuries. 

Defense - A: It would have been an "A+" if the Redskins had posted their first shutout since 1991, but it was a darn good performance regardless. 

It wasn't as dominating as the Week 3 win over Oakland last year, but the Redskins held Arizona to 68 rushing yards and 145 net passing yards. They racked up two takeaways, Quinton Dunbar's interception and Matt Ioannidis' sack/fumble recovery, and two sacks, with Ryan Anderson picking up the other takedown of Sam Bradford. 

Greg Manusky's crew tackled much better than they did in the preseason and got off the field on third down, holding Arizona to 1-8 on third down. 

Special Teams - C+: A penalty on Nick Sundberg on the first punt of the game didn't ultimately hurt, but it was the third infraction of the Redskins' first drive. The return game didn't provide a ton of juice, but Danny Johnson's 24-yard kick return was better than what the Skins normally get. 

Both Tress Way and Dustin Hopkins were solid on the day. 

Coaching - A+: I couldn't have been more wrong about the Redskins not being ready to play on Sunday, as long as you throw out the first drive. Jay Gruden's team responded to his fairly soft script for the preseason and refused to allow their head coach to drop to 0-5 in season openers.

Gruden was also patient with the run. He was rewarded with a 182-yard rushing performance, led by Peterson. The Redskins have struggled mightily on first down to run the ball in the Gruden era, but not on Sunday, racking up 5.2 yards per attempt on 24 first-down rushes. 

Greg Manusky did what he had to do with his defense. He mixed and matched defensive line personnel, and the front line was stout all day long. Manusky also received good individual performances from key, younger players like Quinton Dunbar and Josh Harvey-Clemons. 

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