The Redskins fell to the Eagles 30-17 in Week 1 of the NFL season on Sunday at FedEx Field. 

Here are the five key observations we took away from the season-opening loss.


1. New season, same third-down defense.
The Redskins were dead last in the league in defending third-down conversion attempts in 2016. In the offseason they acquired five new defensive starters and got a new coordinator.

Sunday against the Eagles they gave up first downs on eight of 14 third downs, a rate of 57 percent. That could be close to the worst in the league once the Week 1 results are in.

It’s a small sample size but having all offseason to work in that one, major area and coming up so short has to be discouraging.

2. New season, same red zone offense.
The Redskins ranked No. 26 in the league last year in scoring touchdowns in the red zone in 2016.

They had drafted Josh Doctson and they added Terrelle Pryor as a free agent, giving them two tall red zone targets. They also had Jordan Reed, perhaps their best red zone asset, healthy. But they were 0-2 in red zone opportunities, missing a field goal and committing a turnover. Their 0.00 red zone percentage is guaranteed to be at least tied for the worst in the league after Week 1 results are in.


It’s a small sample size but having all offseason to work in that one, major area and coming up so short has to be discouraging.


3. Not Cousins' finest performance.
 I’ll go back and look up the numbers but it doesn’t seem that the Redskins can win if Kirk Cousins doesn’t play well. Although he was victimized by some drops vs. Philly, he played poorly.

He completed 57.5 percent of his passes, about 10 percentage points below his normal performance. Cousins’ 6.0 yards per attempt average was a full two yards below where he finished last year.

There are two points here. One, playing in his third season opener armed with a $24 million contract he should have been better. And the team needs to be able to win even if he does have an off day.

4. But it wasn't all bad.
Two players who deserve kudos for today are the two who scored the Redskins’ touchdowns.

Ryan Kerrigan scored on a 23-yard interception return and he also had half a sack and disrupted the quarterback a few other times.

Chris Thompson made an early candidate for Play of the Year when got the Redskins on the scoreboard after catching a pass, bouncing off of a couple of would-be tacklers, spinning around, a bolting in for a 29-yard touchdown pass.

That was one of Thompson’s four receptions for 52 yards.

5. Blame the Zebras.
And then sometimes, you lose due in part to the referee’s gut.

The pool reporter asked referee Brad Allen why he called a fumble when Cousins lost the ball while trying to pass late in the game. The Eagles scooped the ball up and ran it into the end zone, so instead of a possible late drive to steal a win for Washington, Philly clinched the game. “I just have to go with my gut,” said Allen about the call. “And my gut said fumble.”

When you have already turned the ball over three times and you have dropped passes and missed passes and you give up 57 percent on third down and you go 0-2 in the red zone, you put yourself in a position where the game can come down to the referee’s gut.