1. We asked: Are the Redskins better?
And we thought they were, mainly because the defense would be solid. And that too many questions were unanswered this summer offensively. So far, that looks to still be true. The Redskins would have found a way to lose this game last year and instead found a way to win. The defense was better, particularly against the run -- albeit against a bad offensive line. The pass rush was OK, but it helped that Trent Green wanted no part of staying in the pocket. We can't say the offense is much better, though they hammered a good run defense. But that's what they were doing last year, too.
2. We asked: How will Jason Campbell look?
We thought he would look better; he's poised and relaxed. But we were concerned about his ability to look off safeties and recognize blitzes. He did fine with the latter, but he did not do a good job looking off the safeties. It's what led to his first interception. Campbell was off-target, especially to Santana Moss (who did not help with two drops). Campbell made one big play with his legs, gaining 12 yards on a third and seven, but he must do a better job with conning the secondary.
3. We asked: Is the offense ready to take off?
We didn't think they'd look very sharp in this game and we were right. The line looked good, even with Jon Jansen out. Pete Kendall and Chris Samuels will form a very solid tandem. Kendall was terrific and often got to the linebackers, opening more holes. But we thought much would depend on how Campbell played and he did not do a very good job. The ground game saved them, but there's nothing wrong with that. The good thing for Washington is that a young QB can get better and Campbell will.
4. We asked: What gives the offense a good chance to have a big game?
We thought it was the health of Santana Moss. We were wrong. Turns out it was Antwaan Randle El who helped give them a big lift. Moss and Campbell were not in synch. Campbell missed him, and others, by throwing too high or wide. Moss dropped two passes. Randle El took advantage of man coverage to make two downfield catches. And a sidenote to Randle El: The guy did a terrific job blocking. He helped spring Clinton Portis on the 19-yard run and time and again he made nice blocks downfield. He also saved certain disaster with a terrific adjustment on a Campbell pass late in the game. Had Randle El not stretched back to the outside and deflected the ball, it was headed right to a defensive back -- who had nothing but green ahead of him.
5. We asked: What worries you offensively?
We thought the Dolphins' defensive line could give them trouble. But the Redskins did a nice job against this group. Jason Taylor had a sack and a pressure, but overall was handled just fine. The Redskins' line took control in the fourth quarter and had no problems moving the line of scrimmage.
6. We asked: What minor battle must they win?
We didn't think they could let Keith Traylor clog the middle and he did not. Center Casey Rabach and the guards did a good job making sure he was moved back. The Redskins used lots of inside zone runs. It helped, too, that Clinton Portis read the holes so well and cut back nicely.
7. We asked: Will the defense finally create a turnover?
We said yes. However, in a foolish moment, we said it would be Carlos Rogers who intercepted a pass. He didn't come close. Fred Smoot did, but dropped a certain touchdown in the final minutes. But linebacker Rocky McIntosh forced a fumble and Shawn Springs recovered. McIntosh was all over the field.
8. We asked: What worries you about the Dolphins' O?
We thought it would be the playcalling of Cam Cameron and the savviness of Trent Green. Cam's playcalling was OK, but his line didn't help get anything going on the ground. That changed everything. The Redskins' tackles controlled the line, allowing the linebackers to stuff holes. Trent had some nice throws, but overall he looked to leave the pocket way too early. His intentional grounding was a poor mistake for a veteran.
9. We asked: What's the defensive key?
We said taking Ronnie Brown out of the game and allowing the linebackers to run free. Mission accomplished. Cornelius Griffin and Anthony Montgomery did an excellent job. Monty didn't have any tackles, but he drew double teams and prevented the line to get to the linebackers. Griffin made some nice plays getting off blocks.
10. We asked: Who will win?
We said the Redskins would, 17-9, because they were playing at home and that their offense was in better position to succeed earlier than the Dolphins. We got that right; the difference in the game was Washington's offensive line could open holes on the ground. Also, the defense did an excellent job when presented with an adverse situation. That allowed the offense to find its groove and rhythm. It wasn't pretty, but it beats losing.
Ten Spot Review: Redskins 16, Dolphins 13
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