GLENDALE, Ariz. — Here are my five key observations and takeaways from the Redskins’ impressive 24-6 win over the Cardinals.
1. A good offense helps out the defense.
The Redskins controlled the ball for just shy of 23 minutes in the first half. “We were sitting on the sideline drinking Kool-Aid,” said cornerback Josh Norman. Three consecutive touchdown drives in the first and second quarters alone consumed 5:53, 9:06, and 3:11. A well-rested defense allowed only two first downs and the Cardinals ran 15 pays. That’s the way it’s supposed to be done.
2. A good defense helps out the offense.
The other side of that coin applied today as well. By getting two straight three and outs in the first half, a Redskins offense that was in rhythm and had the Arizona defense back on its heels had chances to get back out there and keep moving the ball.
Things didn’t go quite as smoothly in the second half but the Cardinals run only 13 plays and the Redskins were able to kill some clock and get a third-quarter field goal that ended the competitive portion of the game.
3. Practice does matter.
There was a lot of concern about the fact that Chris Thompson and Jordan Reed had not taken any live snaps with Smith. As it turned out, it didn’t matter. Both players looked like they had been playing with Smith for years. The tight end was very much in sync with the quarterback when Smith had to scramble to his left.
Reed was right where Smith thought he would be and he the pass picked up 22 yards. Thompson and Smith connected on a number of plays including an impromptu shovel pass that went for good yardage. Smith, Reed, Thompson and Jay Gruden said all week that they had practiced together a lot and that everything would be fine. Many were skeptical, but it appears that Gruden and company were right.
4. We don’t know if the Cardinals are last year’s Rams or Raiders.
Last year, the Redskins beat the Rams in Week 2. Not many fans and members of the media were impressed. But it turned out that the Rams were one of the best teams in the NFC. In Week 3 Washington dominated the Raiders, a team that was in the Super Bowl conversation. They weren’t. The point here is that we don’t yet know what the quality of this win is.
The Cardinals have a new head coach, they probably already have a quarterback controversy brewing with top draft pick Josh Rosen sitting on the bench, and while they have a few All-Pro caliber talents they also have some serious holes. For now, it’s a much-needed Week 1 win and that’s all that really matters.
5. It’s only one game.
As important as it was for Jay Gruden to win an opener let’s not blow up the importance of one win. There are 15 more games to go. They are unlikely to hold many of those future opponents to two first downs in the first half. There will be days when Adrian Peterson can’t find any running room.
The Redskins will have to figure out how to win on days when the opponent is better, and fortune isn’t smiling on them. The Redskins will enjoy this win until tomorrow and get back to work.
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