The Redskins suffered a demoralizing loss against the Philadelphia Eagles this past Sunday, and unfortunately, the storyline is far too familiar in recent years. There were periods of outstanding football, and there were periods where the team looked utterly shaken and unraveled right in front of everyone. By default, we have to acknowledge that it is only week one, and the first game does not define a team in the NFL. With that being said - the good, bad, and ugly – here is what we learned from the week one matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Terry McLaurin is as advertised; the third-round rookie’s debut was statistically better than any single game former first-round pick Josh Doctson has ever had during his time as a Redskin. He was targeted in all facets of the passing game as he racked up five catches (seven targets) for 125 yards and a touchdown. An untimely overthrow cost a completion that would have easily put him past the 200-yard mark in his first game, which would have put him on the national map. McLaurin’s usage will be critical for the Redskins moving forward, and when defenses are starting to key on Terry it will be essential to see, not only how head coach Jay Gruden responds, but how Terry can perform knowing defenses respect him that much.
Case Keenum was excellent in his first outing. Because of Dwayne Haskins waiting in the wings, not many fans gave him a chance before the game even started, but Keenum started out on fire and gave the Redskins a chance to win. As mentioned earlier, an untimely overthrow is the one crucial play he would like to have back. However, for the most part, you saw that Keenum is competent enough to continue starting at the quarterback position moving forward. His veteran leadership seemed to help out the receivers and offensive line as well, as the pass-protection sets seemed to be good throughout the day and receivers were on the same page with Case all game. Can Case continue to give the Redskins a shot in games moving forward? That will be the biggest question and storyline for Keenum moving forward, because if losses start to pile up and he is a primary contributor to them, his season may be over sooner than he anticipated.
New defensive additions Landon Collins and Cole Holcomb had solid debuts against the Eagles. Collins showed his effectiveness in the run game for the most part, and the ability to minimize gains with sure-tackling. Cole Holcomb’s instincts and speed were significant benefits to the team, and you can see how he and Jonathan Bostic can work well together, knowing Bostic can take care of the play-calling. Bostic’s role on the defense will allow Holcomb to minimize his need to think which can get him in trouble at times (indecision), allowing him to react and be more of a playmaker for the defense. .
The defense, in general, was not good. Now, the first half was on thing, but it is hard to give them credit for just one half, knowing they gave up 300 yards in the other half of the football game. It is hard to give the Redskins defense credit explicitly, when that side of the football was touted as the best unit of this team, but received a beat-down in the second half.
Communication issues in the secondary enabled big plays down-field, the front seven was unable to get pressure, and, even with seven to eight defenders in coverage at times, Carson Wentz was still able to convert multiple third and longs.
Even though the offense did not help them in the second half, the defense did not help themselves either. The Eagles ended their last six drives with five scores (four touchdowns) and one punt, with two scoring drives lasting over seven minutes in length each.
Jonathan Allen missed the entire second half with a knee sprain and may potentially miss further time due to the injury. If the Redskins are that porous without Allen, it must be asked, are the Redskins front seven as good as we thought? Time will tell, but it is worth monitoring.
The penalties were as bad as it gets Sunday. The Redskins got in their own way offensively, largely due to the penalties, totaling 12 for 96 yards. The good news, though? It was not the Cleveland Browns! Who lost by 30 to the Tennessee Titans and had 18 penalties for 182 yards.
Back to the point. though, over the past couple of seasons, Morgan Moses has indefensibly been the most destructive offensive lineman for the Redskins in this regard. He has notoriously held and had many false starts that have hindered the offense. There is never a good time for penalties, but when you are reeling and trying to stay in a fight that is clearly swaying into the favor of the opponent, these penalties are even worse. There must be accountability held for the lack of discipline in this regard moving forward.
The run game was nonexistent; the offensive line was unable to provide any room for running backs in the limited chances to run the ball. Jay Gruden post-game said he must give the backs more chances during the game; however, that has been a consistent issue with Gruden during his tenure as a Redskin’ Gruden has far too often got carried away (no pun intended), becoming one-sided in his play-calling. The Eagles defensive looks may have contributed to the play-calling this game; however, there is truly no excuse for 13 carries all game for the running backs.
Adrian Peterson was inactive for this game in favor of a special teams player Wendell Smallwood, which was not a smart call. Peterson was one of the top three playmakers (if not the top one) on the offense in 2018; there should have been a way for Gruden to make four running backs active if Wendell was a necessity.
This is not to say Adrian Peterson makes a significant impact on the team; however, a team can never have too many horses in the stable when it comes to playmakers. So, Adrian Peterson needs to have opportunities.
Derrius Guice is now at risk of losing time with a reported meniscus injury, so, by default, Adrian Peterson will be active now that Guice is likely to miss time. The decision by Gruden to bench Adrian Petersonwas questionable to begin with; now, this is a key storyline to follow, especially when Guice comes back. Adrian Peterson may not be in the long-term plans for Jay Gruden’s Redskins, but his presence on the 2019 team demands that Gruden use him intelligently.
Lastly, the Redskins collapse was the ugliest of it all. The Redskins were outscored 32-10 after getting out to a 17-0 lead. Post-game, Eagles receiver Desean Jackson stated in an interview with Deion Sanders that he knew the Redskins would fold in the second-half because the Redskins more likely than not felt the game was over at half-time. Jackson’s comments are not gospel; however, he was in the locker room for three years and he has insight into how Jay Gruden’s team reacts to minimal success.
Gruden far too often has coached in games where his team is either flat-out unprepared to start a game, plays only a half-game, or gets outcoached for the majority of the game. To his credit, there are also games where he comes out well-prepared in games that he was not expected to be in, but success begins with consistency, and Gruden has yet to display that in his six years in Washington. The loss Sunday marks Gruden’s fifth in season openers (1-5) and brings an eerily familiar feeling similar to the losses that occurred in the past — the same storyline being repeated time and time again. Gruden is already on the hot seat, and there are not many more opportunities for him, his staff, and players to perform like this.