Redskins vs. Bears Stars, Studs, and Duds

The Redskins ended their first game much like they did a number of games in 2004: with praise for the defense and questions at quarterback.

At least they got a win, but it's probably a good thing they were facing a rookie quarterback in Kyle Orton making his first start. And it's a good thing the Redskins' defense remains more than solid.

And for all this talk about the new aggressive attack, the Redskins likely will go back to having their quarterbacks manage the game more than try to win them.

But a 1-0 record will never be a bad thing.

Offensive star: Clinton Portis. He rushed for 121 yards and his 41-yard gain helped Washington dig out of trouble in the fourth quarter. Portis clearly is better when not running between the tackles. Though he runs hard, he doesn't break tackles. But he does make defenders miss on the stretch runs, which is why the Redskins need to use more of it.

Unsung hero: H-back Chris Cooley. He did lots of pulling and blocking Sunday and did a nice job. Time and again Cooley crashed into a linebacker and allowed Portis to make a cut.

Then again: the offense still couldn't score a touchdown, so does anyone deserve a gold star? The Bears' defense is excellent so that didn't help Washington. But the Redskins didn't help with questionable playcalling. At times the Redskins would have a quarterback roll out, with only two receivers to that side against four or five defenders. That's not good.

Defensive star: One guy didn't stand out because the unit played so well, but we'll go with Cornelius Griffin. Why? Because he's so darn consistent. And he keeps coming, which is why he caused, and recovered, a fumble late in the game to clinch the win. Griffin is not a one-year wonder; he works too hard.

Nice debut: Middle linebacker Lemar Marshall intercepted a pass tipped by Warrick Holdman. Marshall seemed to play decent against the run, helped by the tackles holding up blockers. But the linebackers in general need to improve against the pass, especially on crossing routes underneath.

Scheming: The defensive coaches did a nice job changing up coverages. They used Shawn Springs as a linebacker; they used 3-4 fronts for more than just passing situations. Though they didn't get much of a pass rush, they did cause enough confusion, not just by Kyle Orton but by the entire offense. Hence the three false starts in a row, killing one late fourth quarter drive.

Unsurprising: Antonio Brown's fumble. Did you pay attention this summer? Brown doesn't have good hands, which was evident during the preseason. He catches the ball awkwardly. He also goes down too easily. Brown is a good story, but not sure how long they can go with him.

Not ready: Don't start calling for rookie Jason Campbell. Though neither of the first two quarterbacks distinguished themselves, Campbell is far from mastering this offense. The book on him coming out of college is that he was slow to pick up an offense.

Ugh: Special teams inconsistency. A fumble and two penalties and a low line drive kick. But the coverage units were good, with Khary Campbell, Rock Cartwright and Ade Jimoh, among others, delivering good hits.

Game breaker: Receiver Santana Moss. He turned a short pass into a 52-yard gain, something he'll do more of this season. If the quarterbacks can get him the ball. Another time he was wide open down the left side only to watch Patrick Ramsey throw to a double-covered Cooley down the right seam.

Costly mistakes: Ramsey's inability to eliminate critical mistakes was no surprise. He made similar mistakes this summer and has made them the past couple years. His leash was short because, in part, he lacks anyone in the organization who truly wanted him here in the first place. It makes a difference.

Better, but: Mark Brunell managed the game well and made a couple plays that Ramsey might not have because of his mobility and poise. Brunell executed a bootleg with a soft pass to Robert Royal for 12 yards. Another time, he picked a shotgun snap off the ground, remained calm and hit Moss for 15 yards. But Brunell didn't get them in the end zone, though he did lead three field goal drives.

Versatile: Sean Taylor lined up at receiver on two plays in the red zone. He acted more or less as a picker designed to get Cooley open. Taylor is the most gifted player on the Redskins, which is why they wanted to use him in this role. But it says a lot that Washington lacks a receiver who could help them in the red zone.

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