The Washington Redskins throttled the Arizona Cardinals in the first half taking a 21-0 lead into halftime. The big lead helped Washington cruise to a 24-6 season-opening win. The Redskins turned in a dominant performance beating the Cardinals in just about every area of the game. Here are three things we learned from the Redskins season opener.
Dominance Up Front
The biggest reason for the lopsided game was the utter supremacy Washington had over both sides of the line. The offensive line helped open up a lot of holes helping Washington to have 182 rushing yards. Adrian Peterson had 26 carries for 96 yards and a touchdown. Chris Thompson ran for 65 yards on only 5 carries and added 6 catches for 63 yards and a touchdown. Peterson and Thompson had big days thanks to the strong play of the offensive line. Peterson, a likely future Hall of Famer, reached a milestone on Sunday.
For the 100th time in his career…@AdrianPeterson rushes for a TD!
— NFL (@NFL) September 9, 2018
That was not the only milestone Peterson hit on Sunday. He also passed two Hall of Famers on the all time rushing list.
Adrian Peterson passes Jim Brown and Marshall Faulk to move into 10th on the all-time rushing list. pic.twitter.com/xMVP6pZOKg
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) September 9, 2018
Left tackle Trent Williams, who has made six consecutive Pro Bowls, turned in an impressive performance against Cardinals defensive end Chandler Jones. Jones led the NFL in sacks with 17 last season.
The Redskins defensive line was just as impressive. They limited All-Pro running back David Johnson to 37 rushing yards. The Cardinals had three drives in the first half and two ended in three and outs. Both three and outs were followed by a long touchdown drive by the Redskins offense. Defensive Tackle Da’ron Payne, the Redskins first round pick this season, was a key part of the Redskins stifling defense. The return of Jonathan Allen and the strong performance of Matt Ioannidis certainly helped as well.
The Cardinals ran 13 plays in the first half not counting a kneel down to end the first half. The Redskins ran 44 plays in the first half. The Cardinals were not able to get going thanks to Washington’s dominance up front.
Cardinals quarterback Sam Bradford passed for 11 yards in the first half. That is not a misprint! New starting cornerback Quinton Dunbar recorded the only interception by either team in the game. Dunbar played so well that future Hall of Fame wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald gave Dunbar a helmet tap and said “good job” after the game.
“For a guy like that, a legend, to congratulate you, it means a lot to me,” Dunbar said via the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Dunbar is the Redskins new number two cornerback after Bashaud Breeland left via free agency. Washington was so confident in their secondary that they waived free agent signing Orlando Scandrick in favor of younger players.
Bradford finished with 153 passing yards with no touchdowns and an interception. He finished the game with a 57.6 quarterback rating. Bradford got a lot of his passing yards towards the end of the game when Washington was playing softer in the secondary.
If the secondary can continue to play at this high a level the Redskins could have a special defense and one of its best in years.
Dependable Alex Smith
Alex Smith is not flashy or dominant like Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers but he gets the job done. Smith was incredibly efficient going 21-30 for 255 yards and threw two touchdown passes. Unlike previous Redskins quarterbacks, Smith avoids mistakes and will throw the ball away or run instead of throwing into danger.
“That’s what he’s done his whole career,” said Redskins head coach Jay Gruden according to ESPN.com. “He does a great job not making a bad play worse and living to fight another day and moving on to the next play. That’s what he’s always done.”
The Redskins took advantage of Smith’s running ability and good decision making by calling a lot of run-pass options. The Redskins had seven different formations on their opening drive. Gruden is able to be creative thanks to Smith’s experience, decision making, and accuracy.
“I thought he was sensational,” Gruden said after the game.
Smith distributed the ball well completing passes to seven different Redskins players. When nothing was open downfield Smith threw it short to a running back. One of those plays resulted in a touchdown pass to Thompson.
Washington got off to a great start against the Cardinals. It is just one game but it gives Redskins fans a lot of hope. Who knows Washington may have a special team.