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Five key observations from the Redskins' big win

Five key observations from the Redskins' big win

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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Derrius Guice reportedly hurt his knee again before Washington released him

Derrius Guice reportedly hurt his knee again before Washington released him

A news storm ensued after Derrius Guice was arrested on domestic violence charges and subsequently released by the Washington Football Team. Seemingly lost in the shuffle was some news about yet another knee injury for the third-year running back. 

According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, Guice hurt his knee again the day before he was released.

This would have been huge news for the former second-round pick, who's grappled with knee injuries throughout the first two seasons of his career. He suffered a torn ACL as a rookie, a meniscus tear at the beginning of last season and an MCL sprain later on in 2019 as well.

There was hope for Guice to become a featured back, and he certainly had the ability to become one had he been able to stay healthy. 

RELATED: RIVERA EXPLAINS DECISION TO CUT GUICE

It's unclear how much another knee injury had to do with Guice's release, though it certainly couldn't have made things easier on Guice's hopes to stay on the roster. He later went unclaimed on waivers, making him a free agent for the first time in his young career.

Washington doesn't have much time to worry about Guice now. They have to figure out how to distribute the carries between Adrian Peterson, J.D. McKissic, Peyton Barber, Antonio Gibson and Bryce Love without a preseason schedule to test things out.

With their first taste of game action this season set as a September 13 clash with the Eagles, Peterson figures to start off as the lead back behind Dwayne Haskins based on experience alone. Peterson has over 3,000 career carries under his belt while the other four options have combined for 639.

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Alex Smith could make 'interesting' battle for QB practice reps with Dwayne Haskins

Alex Smith could make 'interesting' battle for QB practice reps with Dwayne Haskins

Training camp should be a major opportunity for Washington Football Team quarterback Dwayne Haskins to get a lot of work with new offensive coordinator Scott Turner and the new playbook, but if Alex Smith is healthy, the reps for Haskins might shrink.

"The biggest thing we’ve got to do is not make sure we’re divvying up the reps as evenly as possible, but we divvy up who they work against. This could be a very interesting challenge for us because of QB Alex Smith. If Alex is healthy and continues to get healthy and we do activate him, he’s going to be in the throes of this competition," head coach Ron Rivera said on Monday. 

The Washington Football Team drafted Haskins 15th overall last year, only after Smith suffered a broken leg in November 2018. Rivera wasn't around for either of the decisions to draft Haskins or trade for Smith, but now the new coach gets to try and solve the QB riddle in Washington. 

Haskins struggled as a rookie in part because he didn't get much practice work with the first team offense. It was obvious how little Haskins knew of the offense and his offensive teammates when he first got on the field in Week 4 last year. Some of that might have been self-inflicted, regardless, Haskins needed the work. 

Now in his second season, Haskins got exactly zero team drills in this offseason due to Coronavirus. None. 

So, with what should be the most important training camp of his young professional career, Haskins again might face another hurdle in the return of Smith. 

Smith deserves tremendous accolades for his recovery after 17 surgeries and intense infection in his leg. But is Smith getting back on the field the best thing for a young Washington team trying to rebuild?

Haskins is 23. Smith is 36.

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Haskins has tremendous potential, Smith has already proven he can produce.

Haskins has started seven NFL games. Smith has started seven NFL playoff games. 

Considering all of that, Haskins should get the most work of any Washington passer.

Take note that Rivera didn't say the reps needed to be equitable, but rather the level of competition. Haskins needs more reps than Smith or Kyle Allen.

RELATED: WHICH WASHINGTON PLAYER HAS A LOT RIDING ON THE 2020 SEASON?

Smith has been in the NFL since he was drafted first overall in 2005. Allen started 13 games for Rivera and Turner in the last two seasons. Haskins hasn't even been through a padded practice with Rivera and Turner. 

It makes total sense to get Allen reps against the first-team defense. He needs to be prepared. And should Smith get medically cleared to be back on the field against a defense, he should get some of those reps too. Washington needs to see what Smith has left if he actually gets cleared for football.

Still, Haskins should get the majority of that work. He needs it, and Rivera needs to see what he has in the former Ohio State star. 

Smith's recovery is an incredible story, but Rivera's plan in Washington is a long-term rebuild to put together a consistent playoff team. That means getting Haskins on the field as much as possible. 

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