Kirk Cousins, Redskins starters stout in preseason opener

Instant analysis on the work from the Washington Redskins starters in their preseason opener at the Atlanta Falcons.

The most basic of goals for the Washington Redskins starters in their preseason opener surely looked something like this

* Be efficient

* Make plays

* Don't get hurt

For the most part, mission accomplished in their brief work against the Falcons Thursday night in Atlanta.

The defensive starters dominated in their first two series of work, forcing back-to-back 3-and-outs. On offense, Kirk Cousins completed all five of his passes for 39 yards in his lone and scoreless drive.

* Boom goes the dynamite: Falcons quarterback @Matt Ryan is good at his job. Overrated -- you can let Chase Hughes know I said so -- but good. Even for the first preseason, 0 for 4 doesn't work. That the Redskins secondary did work is why Ryan couldn't complete a single pass in those two drives. Dashaun Phillips helped get in the way on a third down pass to Julio Jones. On the second possession, Quinton Dunbar broke up a frozen rope to Mohammed Sanu over the middle and Bashaud Breeland swatted away a third down toss to former Redskins receiver Aldrick Robinson. That Josh Norman didn't play in the second possession and that it didn't matter further amplifies the corner depth.

* The Falcons got into a quick second-and-long situation on the second drive because of Will Compton's impression of a heat-seeking missile. Set on the second level of the defense with fellow inside linebacker Mason Foster and behind a five man front, Compton quickly identified the run play. Before the fullback could square up, Compton shot through the line and blasted Tevin Coleman for a 1-yard loss. Preston Smith, who played both series despite injuring his shoulder in Tuesday's practice, helped make the play by holding his ground at right end.

* Atlanta scored the game's first point on its third drive, which ended in the second quarter. Washington had a mix of starters and top backups in this series. Backup QB Matt Schaub hit Robinson for a 47-yard pass with Dunbar defending, setting up a Matt Bryant field goal.

* Cousins worked the short and intermediate routes including a six-yard completion to the always trusty Pierre Garcon on 3rd and 4. Ryan Grant had two catches on the drive. Even without three starters, he looked poised in the pocket and showed mobility as needed.

* Biggest early negative, penalties. One on the opening kickoff took away Rashad Ross' return beyond the 30. Right tackle was called for holding, eliminating a nifty Matt Jones 11-yard run on 1st and 10.

http://www.scout.com/nfl/redskins/story/1691380-most-fascinating-preseas...

* Similar to last season, the offensive line looked better in pass protection than run blocking, including the second series with Colt McCoy at quarterback. After a Cousins-Grant 11-yard pass st up first down, Jones promptly lost a few yards because left guard was pushed into the backfield.

* As a reminder, the Redskins played without three offensive starters: Left tackle Trent Williams, tight end Jordan Reed and slot receiver Jamison Crowder.

* Putting points on the board would have been ideal. Not allowing a first down on the opening two drives is sublime. Coach Jay Gruden wasn't keeping either group on the field for long regardless. Both sides did enough to not alter the plan.

Check back with Breaking Burgundy for postgame analysis and throughout the week.

Ben Standig is the Publisher of Breaking Burgundy and the Huddle Report's 2012 NFL Mock Draft champion. You can find him on Twitter @benstandig and on Google+.

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