Week 1: Superman at the Superdome

My excitement for opening day against the Saints was limitless. The early news that Rex Grossman was inactive gave me an added jolt. Even down to the very last minute, however, I was prepared to lose. I wanted to win, but I also wasn’t putting anything past the Saints, who were undefeated at home last season and have a bone to pick with the NFL right now. In the end, however, I was left speechless, playing the Redskins fight song in the streets of DC and doling out high fives to every fellow fan I could find. 

Super Griffin
Wow, just wow. We knew he was special, but his performance was the stuff of legends. I had to check a couple times during the first half to make sure I was actually awake and not still lost in the rose-tinted fields of my dreams. Griffin was incredibly poised, showing no hesitation under pressure and running the offense like a seasoned hand. He took his time, went through his progressions, rolled out to find the open man and scrambled when when that’s what was needed to move the chains. In answer to the Saints’ first TD of the game, Griffin connected with Garçon for an 88 yard touchdown that was positively electric. Not only did it set the tone for the rest of the half, it actually got a smile out of Coach Shanahan. Griffin ultimately lead the team down the field on eight scoring drives, racking up 10 points in each quarter for a 40-32 victory, even without his number one receiver, Garçon, who was lost to a foot injury. He used all of the weapons at his disposal, with hand-offs to rookie RB Alfred Morris, big strikes to Moss, Robinson, Morgan, Banks, Paulsen, and a massive 26-yard throw across the middle to Fred Davis on the sideline. I can’t remember the last time I had so much fun watching a football game. Griffin was mesmerizing. 

We Are Young
While Griffin is the leader of our offense and the youth movement in DC, it truly is a team revolution we have brewing. Rookie Alfred Morris won the starting RB job over injury plagued Evan Royster and Roy Helu, and he showed us exactly why he deserves to keep it. Morris had an incredibly strong outing, totaling 28 carries for 96 yards and two TDs in his first regular season start. He is strong, protects the ball and is slippery like an eel when he needs to be. I’d like to see the line opening up a few more holes for him, but there is no doubt he’s making the best of every opportunity. Morris was not the only young stud to score his first NFL touchdownAldrick Robinson, a second year SMU product, caught a 5-yard TD pass from Griffin in the second quarter to put the Redskins up 17-7. He would’ve had a second TD had in not been for pass interference by the Saints. Robinson has stood out on special teams and is quickly proving to be a reliable threat among an already deep WR corps. Logan Paulsen also deserves high praise for his contributions to the win. In addition to a huge 22-yard Q4 reception, Paulsen put up some big blocks that contributed to Morris’s success and almost single-handedly secured the first down for us on a 4th and 1 attempt. I’ve always believed in Paulsen’s talent and he’s trying really hard to make believers out of the rest of you too.

Shutting Down the Breesus 
For once, we were not the team starting 3 and out! Our defense wasn’t perfect today, but, boy, did they surprise me with some huge performances. Our front seven are beasts and they were bringing the pressure non-stop. Our line made contact with quite a few passes and kept Brees scrambling. Not surprisingly, one of our two sacks came from second year stand out Ryan Kerrigan. Incredibly surprisingly, however, was the author of the first sack – none other than much maligned CB DeAngelo Hall. I mean, where did that come from?! I knew having him play closer to the line was a smart call, but I definitely was not expecting that. London Fletcher had a great game and some really fantastic strips. The real wow-factor on defense came for me in the secondary. I was not expecting much from a corps missing keys starters and known for their inconsistencies, but they put on a show. Josh Wilson doled out some big hits. Madieu Williams put receivers on notice that he will knock you out. Reed Doughty and DeJon Gomes both intercepted the Breesus. Yes, you read that correctly – Doughty and Gomes. I think the biggest stand-out for me this week though was Cedric Griffin. Griffin struggled a bit in the preseason but he had no trouble covering all 6′ 4″of Marques Colston. Griffin broke up several crucial plays along the sideline and in the end zone, showing speed and consistency.

From the Sidelines
I’d like to give some serious props to our coaching staff (yes, even Kyle) for creating an outstanding game plan, managing the clock exceptionally well and for knowing when to let go of the reins. They prepared our boys well and then let them execute on their own, adjusting as necessary and using all the tools in the box. DBs Coach Raheem Morris truly deserves a special shout out for the moster showing by our depleted secondary. 

Well Wishes
A special note to two players who were injured during the game – Safety Jordan Berstine suffered a season ending knee injury (he injured “almost everything” in it) and Long Snapper Nick Sundberg broke his arm. Sundberg actually finished the game, taking nine snaps after the original injury. He wins the badass award for Week 1. 

I am still pinching myself. I just can’t believe that was our team out there. The progress is phenomenal. I’m not making any playoff predictions or talking about the Super Bowl, I’m simply saying that they truly look like a new team. They actually look like a good team. It is one game, one win, but it was a big one. This team is just plain fun to watch right now. I’m always scared about playing the Rams (it often does not end well). For once, I’m more excited than scared. 

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