1. We asked if the Redskins could handle success. We didn't think this would be an issue and it certainly wasn't. Early on, Philly's play-calling on both sides affected Washington more than any perceived inability to handle success. And the reason the Redskins rallied is because of character and chemistry. They were punched in the mouth and responded. That's a team that knows how to handle itself.
2. We asked if Shawn Springs would play. We were doubtful and he in fact did not play. Thing is, did anyone notice? Think about that: Springs is a fantastic corner – and he wasn't missed! Wow. But the good thing is, he was not going to handle DeSean Jackson anyway. That was Carlos Rogers' job and he shut him down. Rogers has blossomed into a strong Pro Bowl candidate. Rogers shut down Jackson by giving him different looks at the line of scrimmage and taking him away off the snap. Many times Donovan McNabb would look his way and immediately go elsewhere.
3. We asked what impact Brian Westbrook would have and we thought he would have a pretty strong impact. He usually does vs. Washington. But is he completely healthy? He lacked a burst as the game wore on, but that was due as much to Washington's defense as anything. We thought the Redskins' secondary depth would play a big factor in trying to contain him and it did.=2 0So, too, did the line, especially Andre Carter.
4. We asked how dangerous Jackson was and considered him very dangerous. Look at the punt return (OK, ignore the block on Khary Campbell for a moment). Jackson gave the Eagles a 14-0 lead with a couple cuts and ran untouched. But as a receiver he had just one catch thanks to Rogers. We thought tight end L.J. Smith would be sidelined and he wasn't. But he wasn't much of a factor either. Actually, after the first quarter nobody was.
5. We asked the Redskins' defense must do. They had to pressure McNabb, which they really did not do a lot of. But what they did instead was cover well downfield. Again. The Redskins played fast on the edges, taking away any screens to Westbrook. That's where having another safety on the field instead of a linebacker really helps. The linebackers consistently filled gaps. Add it all up and that's why McNabb was very ordinary. They also contained their rush lanes, which is why McNabb didn't rush once.
6. We asked if they could indeed pressure McNabb and we thought it would be difficult minus Jason Taylor. Again, we pointed to the coverages as the key in pressuring him, buying the rush time. Their safeties enable them to provide more looks than most teams. Really, you don't see many teams that use safeties the way Washington can because of LaRon Landry. Oftentimes, he'll line up off the right end and drop deep middle. Sean Taylor used to do that as well. It enables them to disguise coverages better than other teams. We also thought the pressure would be hard to come by considering Andre Carter missed time last week for a family issue. Turns out he played fantastic.
7. We asked if they could stop Philly's blitzes and we thought Jim Zorn's playcalling gave them a chance. It seems as if every team the Redskins have played are supposed to bring a lot of pressure, yet Jason Campbell hasn't been pummeled. What helped was the line's communication. After the first quarter, Philly's pressure didn't always hurt the Redskins. Actually, it didn't hurt them at all. The Redskins stretch runs negated some of the Eagles' speed and opened cutback lanes. And it enabled the line to get to the linebackers, opening those lanes. Early on the short passes did not work, but as the running game clicked the passing game produced.
8. What was a big concern? Turnovers. With all the pressure Philly would bring, even if the Redskins handled it well, we figured it would cause at least one mistake. Nope. Credit Campbell for knowing when to get rid of the ball and for not forcing the ball into bad situations. He also had a couple key runs for first downs.
9. We asked if they could run the ball against the Eagles and felt it would be difficult. We thought the quick passes would have more success. Um, wrong. Clinton Portis destroyed them on the ground, again thanks to the line as much as anything. We did think the opportunity for big plays would be there if they picked up the blitz – duh – but the success on the ground stunned us. Give Zorn credit for being patient with the running game and for going to it more when the early passes did not work.
10. We asked if they would win. We weren't quite ready to believe this team had reached this level so fast and picked the Eagles by 2. We also thought the Eagles would play like a desperate team and they did early. But not for four quarters. We won't doubt this team again. Doesn't mean they'll win the rest of their games, but is there a game they shouldn't, or at least can't, win the rest of the way? Nope. The Redskins have proven to be resilient – winning after trailing by two touchdowns on the road with three defensive starters missing. Zorn's aggressiveness and passion have rubbed off on the players. Does this mean they won't have issues down the road? No. But they're no longer a good story, they're a good team. Very good.
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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