The Washington Redskins' offense today was productive, but had its issues, like a Kirk Cousins interception returned for a touchdown. The special teams unit put points on the board, but gave up a kick off returned for a touchdown. The defense, though, was the star of the show. Ryan Kerrigan and Will Blackmon introduced themselves to Eagles' quarterback, Carson Wentz, on the first play of the game, and the rest of the unit never looked back.
After the unit spent the first couple of weeks being criticized by fans and media members alike, and call after call was being made for the firing of defensive coordinator Joe Barry, things have certainly turned around in Washington. The defense held Wentz to just 11 completions, a 50% completion rate for the day, and 179 yards, and they sacked him five times for a loss of 34 yards. They held Ryan Matthews, Darren Sproles, and other Eagles rushers to under 100 yards. They refused to let the guys in the white and green jerseys cross the goal line and put a touchdown on the board. As a whole, the tackling continues to look better, and players like Chris Baker are stepping up to make some big plays that stop the run. It's a trend that the team will need to maintain if it hopes to hold its standing in the NFC East, breathing down Dallas' neck for the first place position.
Kirk Cousins and the offense did their part to help the defense avoid tiring out, going for an impressive stretch that kept Wentz and company on the sidelines for over an hour of real time. The unit is still struggling with third and short situations, and Cousins still floats the ball at times and makes throws he shouldn't, including the pick six that came as he was scrambling, never seeing Malcolm Jenkins making a move on the ball. However, he's also flashing the confidence and ability that had people clamoring for Washington to get a long term deal done with him in the off season. He spread the ball around and managed to lead four separate players to 50+ yard days, even more impressive when you consider he was without his safety net, tight end Jordan Reed (OUT - concussion). On the ground, Matt Jones, Chris Thompson, and Robert Kelley helped keep the offense balanced, and the team ended the day with 34 pass attempts and 33 rush attempts. Kelley stood out as a solid complement to Jones, and both runners popped off long runs of 45 and 57 yards, respectively.
Special teams, as mentioned above, gave up a kick off return for a touchdown, though they can't be held entirely responsible for the situation. Dustin Hopkins kicked off from his own 20 after Vernon Davis earned a foolish unsportsmanlike penalty for using the football to do a free throw through the uprights after scoring a touchdown on the previous play. Call it the "No Fun League" if you want, but Davis should know better in the current atmosphere in the league. Ultimately, though, given the combination of the defense's play today and the special teams' performance lately, the return was an error that didn't cost the Redskins the game today and will likely soon be forgotten.
By the numbers: Cousins (18/34, 263 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT), Jones (16 carries, 135 yards), Kelley (5 carries, 59 yards), Garcon (6 receptions, 77 yards), Jackson (4 receptions 55 yards), Crowder (3 receptions, 52 yards), Davis (2 receptions, 50 yards), Compton (6 tackles), Blackmon (6 tackles), Kerrigan (2 sacks), Hopkins (2/2 FG, 3/3 XP)