Redskins defenders celebrate rookie linebacker Ryan Kerrigans pass deflection and interception return for a touchdown during Sundays 28-14 win over the Giants. Jeff Fishbein/Icon SMI
In their opening game of the season, the Redskins played the Giants toe-to-toe in the first half, then pulled away in the second with a stifling defense and success throwing the ball. And while it was a decisive home win over a division rival that has owned the Skins the past three seasons, I'm left feeling uneasy about the Skins' prospects this season.
Why am I worried?
First: The offensive line was inconsistent and often ineffective -- in both the running and passing game. Quarterback Rex Grossman was sacked four times and constantly pressured by the Giants, even though New York was missing its top defensive ends Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck. The Skins line failed to open holes for running back Tim Hightower, who averaged just 2.9 yards per carry.
The ineffective line play was not limited to one player -- it was across the board. Left tackle Trent Williams struggled mightily in pass protection against Jason Pierre-Paul, who had 2 sacks and several more QB pressures. Center Will Montgomery was pushed into the backfield several times, disrupting plays before they could get started. Right tackle Jammal Brown was burned more than once in pass protection.
If the Skins can't get their line to play better, they're going to be in trouble this season.
Second: Rex Grossman wasn't as good as his stats suggest. The numbers look good: 21-34, 305 yards, 2 touchdowns, no interceptions. However, Grossman was inaccurate -- often throwing high, low or behind receivers. I'll go back through my notes and post some numbers tomorrow, but my impression while watching the game was that Grossman was bailed out on bad throws by receivers making terrific plays. That's not a recipe for sustained success.
Plus, Grossman took a couple bad sacks where he retreated from an approaching defender instead of getting rid of the ball. That cost the Redskins valuable yards -- on one series moving them out of field goal range. Grossman did seem to get better as the game wore on, but his inaccuracy concerns me.
Third: Another missed kick by Graham Gano. Since 2001, NFL kickers have made 86% of field goal attempts from 30.-39 yards. With a 39-yard miss Sunday, Gano is now at 50% (4-8). Yes, the sample size is small. Yes, Gano is terrific on kickoffs. Yes, he has a powerful leg and he kicks a great ball. Yes, he was perfect in preseason. But he needs to make kicks in the regular season. The Skins offense won't be good enough most days to afford another performance like Gano posted last season.
Fourth: In the first half, the Redskins struggled against the Giants' rushing attack. Brandon Jacobs is a load, but the Skins had a tough time tackling him.
Fifth: Reed Doughty. I'm sure he's a good guy. I like his story. But he's not a starting safety. The Skins desperately need Laron Landry to get healthy. If he can't heal in time, they need to consider bringing in a safety who can run. Or, maybe convert one of their surplus receivers.
I'm not saying that the win over the Giants was a mirage. It was a convincing win. However, the game did reveal some flaws that need to be addressed if the Skins are to be serious playoff contenders this season.