LANDOVER, MD - The Washington Redskins (0-1) fell to the Pittsburgh Steelers (1-0) in their season opener 38-16. Washington was pretty much "taken to the woodshed," as cornerback Josh Norman so eloquently explained in the locker room postgame. Below we'll list some observations before diving into the film.
- QB Kirk Cousins ended the game completing 30 out of 43 passes for 329 yards and 2 interceptions. The final interception was questionable and irrelevant. But I guess you could say that made up for the other interception he should've had early in the game. Cousins made a few good throws against the Steelers, with his most impressive drive coming at the top of the fourth quarter. However, he struggled big time in this game. The Steelers played a ton of nickel defense and they baited Cousins on several passing attempts with delayed linebacker coverage drops. I think this is an adjustment Cousins will see early and often this season by defenses. Teams will test his ability to dissect a play post snap. He was unable to do that Monday night.
- Early in the game, the Steelers showed no answer for TE Jordan Reed. The Redskins targeted Reed four times alone on the opening drive. However, after that, Reed was pretty much a non-factor. 7 of his 11 targets came in the first half. Reed looked rather dejected in the locker room postgame. He sat at his locker in full uniform for about 10 minutes during the open media session. I imagine he felt that he could've done more to help the team win.
- Some believe WR DeSean Jackson stopped on a route early in the game that almost created an interception. However, that was more on Cousins not seeing the linebacker post-snap. For the most part, Jackson played well. He had a couple chunk plays, with a long of 33 yards, that sparked the team. He was the only receiver to eclipse 100 yards.
- Other than his 12-yard run, that amounted for half of his total yards, RB Matt Jones didn't do much in this game. I felt the Redskins didn't need to commit to the run against the Steelers, and they didn't. But Jones continues to not give the team much hope as a featured back.
- Center remains a big issue for the Redskins. Kory Lichtensteiger had a really bad game. The veteran center had a couple penalties called against him and allowed several pressures. Not to mention, he was pushed back a lot in the run game.
- Many wonder why the Redskins didn't have All-Pro CB Josh Norman shadow fellow All-Pro, Steelers' WR Antonio Brown. A defeated Norman said postgame in the locker room that he isn't interested in questioning his coach's decision. "All the faith and trust in (defensive coordinator) Joe [Barry] and (defensive backs coach) Perry Fewell," Norman said. "Those guys brought me here and have the faith in me to do my job. I'm not questioning one thing with the game plan." The truth is, whether Norman shadowed Brown or not really wouldn't have mattered. Antonio Brown was going to get his regardless. What the Redskins should've done is had a better plan of making sure the star WR was double covered.
- This may have been the worst game I've seen Bashaud Breeland have and it's really unfortunate. It started off great on his early interception. But it just went downhill from there. Really, Breeland was in good coverage for much of the night. On Antonio Brown's first touchdown, Breeland was in good position but decided to play the ball instead of fight through the receiver's hands. The second Brown touchdown was just an example of how great receivers win with their feet and get-off. What bothered me most about Breeland's night was the missed tackles. That's extremely out of character for him. One could assume Brown got to his head a bit. Which again, is unlike Breeland.
- From a pass rush standpoint, Ryan Kerrigan ended the day with a strip sack that he recovered and then lost. However, Preston Smith had more pressures, although he was unable to sack the QB. For the most part, neither impacted the game. Ben Roethlisberger is very good at eluding pressure and getting the ball out his hands quickly.
You can find Emmanual on Twitter @manny_benton.