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Redskins vs. Cardinals: Questions Abound

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Washington Redskins v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

It was about as ugly as a home opener for a new head coach could get.

What in the world went wrong?

A lot.

Some of it was surprising...but, alas, some of it was not.

Offense:

Why was this offense the same vanilla offense we saw in pre-season?

I predicted during the week in my “The Chase is On” article that there would be an unveiling of a creative game plan by Mike McCoy. I was convinced that McCoy had been keeping his cards close to the vest all pre-season. And yet, come game time—it was pre-season offense deja vu—-all over again.

How much of this vanilla offense can be attributed to Sam Bradford?

We don’t know what Mike McCoy was expecting with each play call. Perhaps there were more nuanced plans on each play call, but Sam Bradford just stated playing “hot potato” with the football and couldn’t stop. Bradford has said that he and McCoy settle on which plays they like and which ones they don’t.

How can Bradford come from playing for one of the most innovative play callers in Pat Shurmur and not bring any of that innovation with him?

I find this mind-boggling.

How could Sam Bradford actually look like Drew Stanton throwing the ball?

Particularly to his left—-Bradford sailed just about every pass and never made an adjustment.

Was Bradford’s protection really all that bad?

The irony was—-it was one of the better games in pass pro the offensive line has produced. Give Ray Brown a lot of credit for having his o-line ready to go.

How can you have a talented young WR in Christian Kirk and only target him on 2 yard crossing routes? Especially on 3rd and 5?

Trent Sherfield showed he could get open on corner routes—-where was he?

Not only did the “run Johnson off-tackle, throw 2 second hot potatoes” offense allow the Redskins to load up the box—-why didn't the OC and the QB understand that they ere playing right into the Redskins’ hands, by making them work a mere 3 seconds a play?

Even in the NBA they know that it makes it easy for the defense to try to score within a couple of seconds off of one pass.

Are Bradford’s quick passes going to get Fitz and others injured?

When the box is packed and the defenders are always inching up—-Bradford is leading his receivers into heavy traffic.

Is it too soon to be calling for Josh Rosen?

No. If Bradford plays like this—-it’s a waste of everyone’s time.

Where is the element of surprise?

In today’s NFL OCs need to give their offenses an advantage by running when the defense is thinking pass and passing when the defense is thinking run. Predictable play calling is the leading cause for “3 and outs.”

Defense:

How can any coach expect to effectively stop the run playing a base nickel defense?

Wilks has his DEs crashing down and playing inside gaps (which, btw, is waste of Chandler Jones’ best talents)—-but then who has contain? There was no contain all day. You need physical CBs who force the run with speed and power—-but watch Patrick Peterson—-if he isn't allowing himself to be blocked alll the way to sidelines by even smaller WRs, he is double clutching at the RBs and whiffing—-same for Jamar Taylor who did come up and make one good 3rd down tackle on Chris Thompson, but other than that, was not doing his job.

How can the perimeter defense be so awful?

Same thing with regard to the CBs—-I mean—-Adrian Peterson goes for 70 yards on 2 swing passes? Are you serious? Chris Thompson goes for 128 yards in 11 touches (5 runs and 6 catches)?

How can the tackling be so poor up the middle?

DTs Corey Peters and Robert Nkemdiche combined for 8 tackles and 2 tackles for loss—-but Wilks’ defense is predicated on the ILBers “running down hill to the ball.” Wilks got that at times from Josh Bynes (11 tackles), but Deone Bucannon was slow and timid. Watch Bucannon on Peterson’s TD dive right up his hole. All Bucannon has to do is fill the hole—-and yet, he runs right into the pile in the middle, acting like he is fooled.

How can you have Deone Bucannon matched up in pass coverage versus speedier receivers like Jamison Crowder and Chris Thompson?

Haason Reddick has the speed to do it. But, Bucannon, like Jamar Taylor and Tre’ Boston yesterday, played lazy, slow reacting pass coverage and got toasted left and right.

Why did Tre’ Boston quit on the TD pass to TE Jordan Reed?

All he had to do is keep running and dive on him to down him before he could reach the ball over the goaline—-it would have saved the TD and run out the clock, as the Redskins were out of timeouts. That was a huge play in the game and instead Boston pulled up and watched it all happen.

Where was Bene Benwikere is coverage?

He’s one of the better slot cover guys—-not sure why he wasn’t used more.

Who were the most physical players on defense yesterday?

Antoine Bethea and Budda Baker—-combined for 21 tackles (17 of them solos). But, if your safeties are making most of your tackles, that doesn't not speak well of the front 7. This was the problem for much of the past two years as well.

What should/could Wilks do this week?

First of all, they should consider releasing Brandon Williams and bringing back CB Tim Scott who is not afraid to mix it up at RCB. Wilks needs a plan B for Bucannon, Boston and Taylor (if they play like this next week)—-as in Zeke Turner (who showed he can fill holes and run down hill to the ball), Rudy Ford (who has been playing with good speed and bang) and Bene Benwikere who could be a better fit at RCB than Taylor.

Plus, Haason Reddick should be one of the nickel LBers—-his forte is in coverage.

The other thing is—-Wilks has to find a way to flex Chandler Jones, so he’s not getting caught inside each play. Stringing out Todd Gurley and getting big pressure on Jared Goff is paramount this week.

The Good News:

Positive Signs: from RB David Johnson, RB Chase Edmonds, WR Larry Fitzgerald, PR Christian Kirk, Ts D.J. Humphries and Josh Wetzel, G Mike Iupati, C Mason Cole, DT Robert Nkemdiche, DT Corey Peters, DE Chandler Jones, DE Benson Mayowa, S Antoine Bethea, LB Josh Bynes (at times), S Budda Baker and P Andy Lee.

Special Teams:

Andy Lee was superb—-he punted 5 times for a 52.6 average, plus landed 3 punts inside the 20.

Christian Kirk, after a tentative first punt return—-ripped off a 44 yarder.

NFC West:

The 49ers and Seahawks lost—-hoping the same tonight for the Rams.

The Redskins:

I was thinking before the game that the Redskins (as healthy as they are to start the season and with the addition of RB Adrian Peterson) might be in many ways one of the Cardinals’ toughest matchups. It didn't help that the Cardinals didn't face one starting QB in the pre-season. Alex Smith was crafty—-(man, they have to chance the intentional grounding rules—-everyone in the stadium knew Smith got away with two gifts)—-and LT Trent Williams is a stud. Their offensive line is dang good, let’s face it. Too bad the Cardinals’ offense was so vanilla, because they didn’t put enough pressure on the Redskins’ LBers and DBs—-that’s where they are vulnerable.