Welcome to the first Three Good/Three Bad of the regular season! Are you excited? I'm excited.
The Washington Redskins opened the season with a loss, but there were plenty of positives to take away from the game. There were many more negatives to take away, but we'll start with the positives, because it's going to be a long season and we could all use a happy beginning, right?
1. Jason Hatcher
I loved the game Jason Hatcher put together on Sunday. The Miami Dolphins managed just 256 total yards, and Hatcher was a big reason why they were unable to get much of a rhythm going offensively, Jarvis Landry excluded. The 33-year-old defensive end didn't fill up the stat sheet all that much — four tackles, a sack and a batted pass — but he was everywhere on the field. By chasing Ryan Tannehill out of the pocket and into Preston Smith, Hatcher was the catalyst on the fumble that became the most ridiculous play of the game. His sack in the second quarter came at the perfect time, as the Dolphins were driving down the field to close out the first half and Washington desperately needed a breather. The Dolphins still scored, but there's only so much he can do.
2. Alfred Morris
My man Alf. It's pretty much impossible to not like the guy. He just comes out every game, exceeds expectations, keeps the offense relevant, then fades back into obscurity. I avoided giving him too much credit throughout preseason, because you knew he would perform, but the time has come to give the man his due.
The numbers are impressive on paper — 25 carries for 121 yards — but it was amazing how he managed to pile those yards up. An average running back probably wouldn't have reached 100 yards on those carries. The blocking wasn't great and the Dolphins seemed to have him wrapped up just about every time he touched the ball, but he did what he does perhaps better than any runner in the league and picked up a few extra yards time and again.
With Matt Jones and Chris Thompson looking to cut into his playing time and, eventually, his salary, Morris put in exactly the kind of performance he needed to in order to reaffirm his value. (On an somewhat related note, I didn't like how much playing time Thompson got compared to Jones; Jones received six carries to Thompson's three, but Pro Football Focus lists the snap count at 21-10 in favor of Thompson.)
3. Pierre Garcon
Pierre Garcon needed to do something this year to prove he was capable of regaining the magic of his stellar 2013 campaign, and Sunday was a very strong outing for the former Indianapolis Colts receiver, who caught six passes for 74 yards. Much like Morris, Garcon was more impressive in his performance than he was in his numbers. He hauled in a few passes while getting hit, he was excellent after the catch by stretching out for extra yards and he provided a valuable safety net for a quarterback who dearly missed his primary deep threat.
1. David Amerson
Now, I'm not a gambling man, but I'd put a few bucks on David Amerson seeing a serious drop in playing time come Week 3. In theory, the Redskins should have both Chris Culliver and Bashaud Breeland back for that game, against the New York Giants, and you know who seems like a bad choice to cover explosive receivers like Odell Beckham Jr. and Victor Cruz? The guy who gets beat a half-dozen times per game.
2. Morgan Moses
There's good news and bad news here.
The good news is Morgan Moses was not terrible as a blocker on Sunday, especially considering the level of talent he faced. Between Cameron Wake and Ndamukong Suh, it was no walk in the park for the much-maligned offensive line. Moses certainly wasn't great, but he could have been — and has been in previous showings — much worse.
The bad news is Moses is still making the same the mental mistakes. He was flagged three times: a false start, a hold that was declined and a vague "personal foul" that needs further explanation. What's worse is that two of those penalties came on consecutive plays and contributed to a disastrous sequence of events that resulted in Landry's punt return touchdown.
There was another play that I wanted to hear an explanation of, one that was ultimately nullified because of a penalty but is still a curious case. On 3rd-and-2 at the 6:07 mark of the third quarter, Wake broke around the edge of the Redskins line for an easy sack. Thompson was the only one who got a hand on Wake, and it was nowhere near enough to stop the DC-area native who has 63 career sacks to his name. Moses was lined up closest to Wake at the snap, but he turned inside as soon as the play began to focus on the middle of the defensive line. If the play was designed as such, burn the playbook. If not, Moses totally blanked on his assignment and let Miami's best pass-rusher get a free angle to the quarterback with only a petite running back in his way.
3. Andre Roberts
Roberts had sort of the anti-Garcon game. He needed a solid outing to win back some fan support, and with DeSean Jackson on the sideline, Sunday would have been a great time to do so. Instead, he displayed the same lack of concentration that has plagued him throughout his career. He managed three catches for 36 yards, but he dropped one pass and dropped another that was officially credited as a fumble because it was technically a backwards pass.
What's worse is that Roberts complained about the sun getting in his eyes immediately after the fumble/drop, while the ball was still live. The Redskins caught a break as the ball bounced out of bounds, but the Dolphins nearly managed to save it and recover the fumble. If they had done so, Roberts was the closest one to the play and wasn't paying attention, so a big return was certainly possible.
It was not a good showing for the former Arizona Cardinals receiver, and his time in Washington has so far been incredibly disappointing.