As you know I've been reviewing the play by play from the Redskins Week 1 win over the last several days. If you missed them here are the links:
But if you don't want to get quite that deep into the weeds, below are some observations that can be considered something of a summary. It is not exhaustive, so feel free to add your own notes in the comments. Also, of course, we're only a week into the season. Some things mentioned here may not turn out to be a trend, and some trends will emerge over the course of the year that are not yet visible. But after one good game, this is what seems interesting to me so far:
- Trent Williams had a terrible game. He was absolutely dominated by Jason Pierre-Paul, who is admittedly a very good player. But a tackle taken with the fourth overall pick in the draft is expected to at least hold his own even against good opponents. It would be unfair to judge him based on the first game of the season, but he needs to show improvement soon because the "learning curve" excuse expires eventually.
- The rest of the line struggled as well, so uniformly that other than Trent it's hard to pick out anyone who was noticeably better or worse than the others. As expected, the interior lineman got overpowered and pushed into the backfield a lot. And they were unable to win their line of scrimmage battles well enough to get blockers to the second level, which is really the whole point of the zone blocking system. Again, we can't write them off yet as the Giants are famously built around their defensive line.
- Rob Jackson only got two snaps, but he again showed that he is a pass rushing threat by getting a pressure to force an incomplete pass. Love the depth at outside linebacker.
- Ryan Kerrigan still has some refinements to his game to make (the pass rushing technique needs work), but I am encouraged that he will be able to pick up the linebacker position. There were several occasions (not least when he avoided the cut to deflect and then intercept the ball for a touchdown, but there were others) where he showed the sort of awareness in space that defensive ends don't usually have to think about. He got lost a couple of times, but less often than you would expect of a rookie learning a new position.
- If Anthony Armstrong can't cut down on the drops the coaches are going to have to look for opportunities to start giving away his snaps to Terrence Austin, Niles Paul, Leonard Hankerson, or even Donte Stallworth.
- Last year the nickel and dime packages involved two or even just one down linemen, with up to five linebackers scattered about trying to create confusion. It hardly ever worked, as lines adjusted to the blitzes and of course when they ran they could pick up 6 or 7 yards at will. This year it technically includes only two linemen, but Brian Orakpo and Kerrigan, despite being in two point stances, are aligned in such away that it constitutes a four man front. In my opinion it is a vast upgrade.
- Tim Hightower's reputation as a master pass protector is overblown. There are many backs who are worse at it (Ryan Torain, for example), but he missed his share of reads and when he does pick up the blitz the blocks tend to be hit or miss.
- So far, I am impressed by Darrel Young as a lead blocker - although that is a role that Kyle Shanahan's offense only sometimes uses.
- Barry Cofield may be a little undersized for a 3-4 nose tackle, but one benefit of that is that he has better speed than you would expect in pursuit.
- Despite Rex's good game, there were several occasions where he made classic Rex-like decisions and tried to force the ball to completely covered receivers.
- More Rex - with or without pressure, he rarely steps into his throws properly, leading to a lot of high passes.
- Rob Jackson not only blocking a Giant from behind, but knocking the guy into Terrence Austin and launching himself into Brandon Banks, must be one of the single dumbest special teams plays I've ever seen.
- Rex's fumble would have turned into a Giants' touchdown but for impressive alertness and hustle from Tim Hightower.
- That turnover could have been a game-changing moment, but for a great defensive stop on a key 3rd and 1 as DeAngelo Hall and Reed Doughty launch themselves into the blocking to redirect a power run.
- Fred Davis had a breakout game as a receiver, but his run blocking remains a liability.
- Something interesting happened when the Redskins got the ball back with a 14 point lead and only 3:14 to play. With the only goal to kill the clock it was obviously time to stick to the run game. But the Redskins abandoned zone blocking and ran five straight plays with good old-fashioned one on one power blocking, with liberal use of lead blocks from Darrel Young and pull blocks from Chris Chester. Those five plays forced the Giants to burn all three time outs and the two minute warning. It really seems that the Redskins wanted to make a point against a defensive front that has routinely manhandled them over the years.