From the outside looking in, the Washington Redskins had nearly a flawless performance against the Arizona Cardinals to kick off their 2018 campaign. Their performance surprised most people given the uncertainty of how Washington would look coming out of the gate. It is only one week for Washington of course, but the positives are what make the foreseeable future favorable in the standings, and for the confidence of the team heading into the middle of the season.
The elder statesmen of the offense Alex Smith (34 years old) and Adrian Peterson (33 years old), with the help of Chris Thompson, led the unit to a dominant performance against the Cardinals. The unit, for the most part, had very few errors. They dominated the time of possession, rushing for over 180 yards that helped put the Arizona Cardinals to bed before the fourth quarter even began.
The Redskins offensive formula was simple, protect the football and win the individual match-ups in the ground game. For a majority of the day, the Redskins executed that formula, allowing a future Hall of Famer in Adrian Peterson to take over the game on the ground and take pressure off of Alex Smith on dropbacks. Smith is very protective of the football, and that potentially allows the Redskins to have lengthy drives. Even if the drives do not result in points, it lowers the chances of giving the opposing offense shortened fields to work with. That is something that obviously pays off in the long run of games.
The issues in years past for Washington was that the offense often got out of sync pretty quickly for many reasons, and it hurt the Redskins ability to dictate the flow of the game. There are two experienced, polished, and proven veterans in the backfield now for Washington, which is what the Redskins have never had during Gruden’s tenure.
Peterson is capable of creating plays that the Redskins backs were not able to do in years past, which gives Gruden the confidence to keep going back to the ground game. Peterson allows Gruden to trust in the ground attack on a day that even if it may not be working for the majority of a game, Adrian is capable of changing that. In his first game, he showed just how capable he was of breaking runs, as Peterson got close numerous times.
With the versatility that Chris Thomspon provides at the running back position, the match-up problem Gruden has in his possession creates an abundance of issues for defenses in weeks to come. Now, it is only one game for Washington, but the formula for success on the offensive side of the football is there. It has always been there, with the quality veteran pieces in place at both quarterback and running back; can the consistency be there throughout the season? I believe it can.