The talk of the Redskins’ preseason has been the glacially slow starts the offense has experienced. They went three and out their first two series against the Ravens. In their second preseason game against the Packers, it was three three and outs to open the game. Sunday against the Bengals it was another trio of 1-2-3-punt series.
After the last game, Jay Gruden said that he is not taking the problem lightly, even though it is the preseason.
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“Well, I’m a little concerned,” he said. “I addressed it in the locker room over there, we’ve just got to figure out something to do—eat a different pregame meal or something, change the first 15 [scripted plays] up. We’ll get it right. I think the guys will come out with a little bit more energy, more urgency hopefully come Philadelphia. They have to. We can’t start like that in the NFL consistently and expect to win a lot of games.”
The 2016 Redskins are a prime example of how hard it is to win in the NFL is you don’t get off to a good start. In their eight wins last year, the Redskins generally got some points on the board early. They scored eight touchdowns and two field goals in the first quarter in those games.
In their seven losses, Washington mustered just three field goals in the first quarter. That’s right, not a single first-quarter touchdown in their losses.
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A slow start was not necessarily fatal to the Redskins chances of winning. In their Week 3 win against the Giants, they did not score a first-quarter touchdown but they did get on the board with a field goal. Their Week 14 win in Philadelphia was the only victory in which they were shut out in the first quarter. But more often than not, problems getting the offense going early meant a bad result on the scoreboard when it was over.
The Redskins’ defense could be better this year than it was last year, perhaps permitting the team to better survive slow starts by the offense. But they can’t count on that. Whether it’s the pregame meal or the 15-play script or the hotel they stay in the night before the game or another factor, something must change if the 2017 Redskins are going to take the next step.
Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.