1. What starters will sit out?
The only one who was limited was WR James Thrash because of his ankle injury. He only played a handful of snaps but remained on kick returns. Marcus Washington played and, at times, was in the slot to disrupt Anquan Boldin's timing. Fred Smoot was limited in the fourth quarter with a bruised hip.
2. Did the Redskins turn a corner last week offensively?
We weren't sure, but now we can say they're at least maturing. They capitalized in the red zone and after turnovers and they got the ball to the playmakers – Santana Moss and Chris Cooley – in the passing game. They did not run the ball well, but the Cards geared up to stop the run. The line handled the Cards' rush. Also, QB Jason Campbell played a very mature game, managing it well, not making mistakes and hitting key throws. He also ran for a few first downs. He didn't make the huge plays of a week ago, but he might have played a better game. There weren't as many missed opportunities.
3. Is this a must-win game?
We thought it pretty much was, considering what was coming up next. The Redskins had a tough five-game opening stretch and the worst they'll now emerge is 2-3, with three highly winnable games in a row thereafter. Had they lost, their season would look a lot differently this morning. T hey've proven they're at least worthy of beating teams their equal at home. What they must do now is prove they can beat teams in their own division.
4. Where can the Redskins hurt the Cardinals?
We thought it would be in the running game. And, despite Clinton Portis' lack of production (68 yards, 21 carries), I'll still say they won in the running game. How? Because the Cards had to pay so much attention to it that it opened up the passing game. The Redskins used the West Coast to its truest, with lots of quick short tosses. In essence, that became their ground game.
5. Will Moss return punts?
We thought he would and he did line up deep for one punt return, though the ball went over his head and into the end zone for a touchback. He'll continue to be used in this manner for a while. Antwaan Randle El returned one punt for six yards. Alas, that qualifies as a good return for him these days. Too often he dances and goes nowhere.
6. How good is the Cards' D?
We weren't too sure given their first two opponents (San Fran and Miami, who looks a little better today by the way). The Cards had shown they could pressure the passer, but they only got to Jason Campbell two times. The Redskins did an outstanding job against quick and explosive DT Darnell Dockett. One executive of an AFC team said before the game that Dockett was even better than last year and the real deal. He thought the Redskins would have a tough day blocking him. Maybe they did, but the interior of the line – RG Randy Thomas, C Casey Rabach and LG Pete Kendall – controlled him. And the secondary, outside of safety Adrian Wilson, isn't much.
7. Can the Redskins stop the Cards' offense?
We thought they would stop the running game. Wrong. The Cards still ran the ball well, with Edgerrin James gaining 93 yards on 18 carries. But when you're facing an offense like this, you have to give up something and the Redskins opted to guard against the passing game because that's where Arizona is most explosive. And the Redskins, outside of one play, did a great job of limiting their effectiveness. We thought the Redskins' secondary was well-equipped to handle this offense and we were right on that. Shawn Springs shut out Anquan Boldin for the most part. Carlos Rogers was very good against Larry Fitzgerald, whose 62-yard touchdown came against zone coverage when Reed Doughty anticipated a different route.
8. What's the key to slowing the passing attack?
We thought it would be pressure on Kurt Warner. It was, though it's not as if he was under siege, getting sacked twice. But the real key was everything: the coverage allowed the pressure to get to Warner. The Redskins changed their look all the time, giving Warner more to read and less time to digest. The depth in the secondary paid off in a maj or way Sunday. Also, they tackled well, preventing gains after the catch. And the line tipped three passes, two by Jason Taylor.
9. Who needs a big game?
We thought a lot of guys had to, obviously. But punter Durant Brooks needed a good game for many reasons – job security, confidence and to pin the Cards' deep. He had a gaffe on a field goal hold, but his punting was very good. His 56-yarder pinned Arizona inside the 10 late in the first half, preventing them from being aggressive. That was huge.
10. Will the Redskins win?
We thought the Cards were better this year, but liked the Redskins at home by three points. So we pegged that one. We thought the D would slow the Cards enough and they did just that.
John Keim covers the Redskins for the Washington Examiner and is a contributing editor for Warpathinsiders.com. He has covered the team since 1994. Some of his other stories can be found at dcexaminer.com
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Ten Spot Review: Redskins 24, Cardinals 17
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