That was a strong first impression from the Washington Redskins in Week 1. Their 28-14 win over the New York Giants ended a six-game drought against their division rival. Rex Grossman outshined Eli Manning so much that they should have swapped last names, and the Redskins' defense finally slowed down the Giants' running attack.
Now, let me get this out of the way: the Redskins 1-0 last year and ended up 6-10. So please, tap the brakes a little here. The Giants are beat up on defense and the Redskins' offense, despite gaudy yardage numbers, still scored only 21 points. The offensive line struggled in protection at times, giving up four sacks, and also did not open the kind of big holes they did in the preseason for the running attack. Are the Redskins better? I think so, but how much? Time will tell.
This week, the Redskins face an Arizona Cardinals team that is on pace to be this year's Houston Texans (pass defense optional). Remember them in Week 2 a year ago? Let's see if Rex and the offense can take advantage of a Cardinals' secondary that looked real sorry in week 1. Sure, Carolina Panthers rookie quarterback Cam Newton may be the real deal, but the Panthers have one guy that can kill you at wide receiver (Steve Smith), and the Cardinals never bothered to cover him.
In this week's edition of Chain Reactions, we look back at the strong opening statement that has one Giants player hitting the Redskins late.
Rex Brings Sexy Back to Redskins' Offense
Yes, that was Rex Grossman Sunday pitching it around in the tune of 21-35 completions, 305 yards, two touchdowns, zero interceptions and a quarterback rating of 110.5. He also had just one real "Bad Rex" moment when he fumbled on a play where he should have just taken the sack.
The most impressive number for me though is one, as in timeouts taken the entire game by the Redskins. Even that was was used with 1:12 left after they let the clock wind down before their final punt to the Giants. They had three in the holster on their impressive 5-play 80-yard drive just before halftime that ended with Grossman hooking up with Anthony Armstrong to tie the game at 14. That's some impressive cardiovascular fitness!
Clock management has plagued this organization for far too long, but on Sunday, there were zero delay of game penalties. Mike and Kyle Shanahan talk about "tempo" with the offense, and they had good tempo throughout Sunday.
Finally, the red zone offense that struggled in preseason was precise against the dinged-up Giants' defense, as they converted for touchdowns three out of four times. The one downside was the running game never really got going, but to Kyle Shanahan's credit, he stuck with it (26 carries).
Defense Shows Signs of Serious Improvement
Giants quarterback Eli Manning looked like someone stole his puppy Sunday, though you could say he always looks like that. The Redskins' defense was strong against the run and magnificent on third down, as the Giants were just 1-10. It is amazing how much better a 3-4 defense looks with players on the nose that are willing to play it like Barry Coefield and rookie Chris Neild, who somehow had two sacks in his debut. Neild is a great story. He was the second-to-last player taken in the draft and appeared to be on the roster bubble, but on Sunday, he played like a veteran. He also sounds like one already.
"That game's over," he said. "We got to move on."
Sure, the secondary still got beat over the top a few times, but considering what we just saw this weekend, it was a strong performance. There was an NFL-record 14 quarterbacks that threw for over 300 yards in week 1, and there were more yards thrown (7,842) than any week in league history. Tom Brady is on pace for over 8,000 yards! It has never been easier to throw in the NFL. It is like 7 on 7 out there now, and the Redskins without Laron Landry still held Manning to 268 yards and 70.8 QB rating.
Side note: While we are talking about records, there was one set with eight return touchdowns in week one. Three of them were kickoff returns. Yes, I said kickoff returns! Apparently the sky has not fallen yet on them being teed up at the 35 like the old days pre-1994. There will be more touchbacks this season for sure. However, the best returners will still have an impact on the game. Chances will increase as the weather gets colder and kickers' legs tire.
The Redskins' win did not exactly send shockwaves around the NFL, which is understandable with all the Giants injuries. However, you would think the a guy on the team you just beat would show some respect. Not Giants cornerback Antrel Rolle.
As a team and organization, we know that the Washington Redskins is not a better team than us. We know that hands down. If we played them 100 times, they might win five. They won that day. It never leaves a good taste in your mouth when you lose to an opponent that you know you are better than.
I understand they beat the Redskins six straight times before Sunday. I also understand you have to believe in your team. I just don't understand why you say it on a radio show. It sounds like sour grapes and it sounds hallow.
Fashion Statement Aside, Maryland's Coach Looks Good
So much has been made about the way Maryland football is dressing these days that, but they will make much more than a fashion statement if they can beat No. 18 West Virginia on Saturday. Some will say all the Terps did in their opener is take advantage of a weakened Miami team due to all the suspensions. However, some like coach Randy Edsall's track record and think of an early win as a sign of better things to come.
Randy Edsall, Maryland:The Terrapins certainly made a big splash in Edsall's debut -- but enough about Maryland's jerseys and helmets. After a 12-year run at UConn, Edsall said he took his "dream job" with the Terps. Having sophomore Danny O'Brien as his quarterback certainly helps. Grade: A
I said it after the Miami win and will say it again: Danny O'Brien gives the Terps a chance every week. He is the most accomplished quarterback in the ACC. The defense will also be key this week against the Mountaineers.