(USA TODAY SPORTS IMAGES)
LANDOVER, Md (WUSA) -- For the first three quarters Monday night at Fed Ex Field, the Redskins and Robert Griffin III weren't rusty -- they were downright embarrassing.
Griffin sailed throws above his receivers heads and ducked passes by their feet. He lacked confidence in his footwork, even looking awkward and, gasp, gimpy at times. Worst of all, Griffin was a shell of himself athletically, and the Eagles knew it. Blitz packages were dialed up and the Redskins quarterback was unable to replicate the weaving and dodging that made him the NFL's 2012 offensive rookie of the year. It was also the first time in his career he's ever thrown two interceptions in one game. Griffin's Adidas inspired 'All in for week one' campaign turned out to be another gimmicky Washington catchphrase that didn't meet expectations.
Alfred Morris -- 12 carries, 45 yards and two fumbles -- had his worst career game, although it wasn't entirely his fault, more on that later. During a resurgent fourth quarter rally, Trent Williams had a key false start on a third down.
"We sucked on offense," said wide receiver Pierre Garcon.
"It was like a nightmare," described tight end Fred Davis, when the Redskins trailed 33-7 early in the third quarter. Washington eventually lost 33-27.
Although they didn't play all that poorly as a unit, the entire defense was constantly gasping for air. LeSean McCoy gashed Washington for 184 yards on the ground. And when 'Shady' wasn't making plays, Michael Vick was. Vick's 36-yard scramble off a read option design put the final nail in the Redskins' coffin. Minus a gift call from the referees which resulted in a 75-yard DeAngelo Hall fumble recovery for a touchdown, literally the Redskins "couldn't get it right," according to Griffin.
But those player miscues and what will become the overanalyzing of the word "rusty" were only part of the problem. Mike Shanahan and Jim Haslett, who have 45 years of NFL experience between them, were painstakingly out coached by Philadelphia's Chip Kelly in his NFL debut. The 33 straight points from the Eagles felt like a 110-pound nerd getting stuffed into a locker. The 53 Philly plays on offense before halftime seemed more like 153. Neither Shanahan nor Haslett could come up with answers to jump start the sputtering Griffin or slow down Kelly's torrent pace. In actuality, Philadelphia's offense gave off the vibe of Kyle Shanahan's offense week one last season in New Orleans, effectively setting the NFL on fire.
Griffin and the Redskins offense finally found a rhythm in the fourth quarter. Griffin's statistics (30-for-49 for 329 yards) and touch passing down the stretch made Redskins fans breathe a sigh of relief. Thankfully their heralded quarterback does still exist. But how much of that had to do with a relaxed prevent Philly defense and how much of that had to do with Griffin settling down his nerves, is up for debate.
Here's three honest observations from the Redskins loss.
1) RGIII is nowhere near as mobile, and it will have an impact Alfred Morris
Griffin was slow. Like 4.6 in the 40-yard dash slow. There's really no argument against that. On occasion, he was running for his life, unable to buy the amount of time he did last season under durres. The Eagles were daring Griffin to run with the football when the Redskins lined up in various read option formations. They hit Griffin nine different times. And most notably, Philadelphia crashed down on Morris on nearly all of his 12 carries, the lowest total of his career. Runs outside the hashmarks were ineffective.
Kyle Shanahan left the creative side of his brain at home Monday night. Going into the game it was almost a guarantee Morris would smoke a defense playing together for the first time in a 3-4. If this is indeed the new RGIII, one who isn't a threat to run at all, last year's base offense out of the pistol formation is going to struggle mightily. Or it may need serious cosmetic surgery, at the very least.
2) Philly exposed the Redskins nickel package
I'd expect offensive coordinators to take a page out of the Eagles playbook in future contests against Washington. Not in a sense of the up tempo pace, but in terms of running draws in the shotgun. Because of Vick's early first quarter success in the passing attack, the Redskins were forced to trot their nickel package on the field with multiple defensive backs. The result? Less linebackers created wide open running lanes for McCoy.
Additionally, was Brian Orakpo even on the field Monday? He somehow managed three tackles and a quarterback hit while playing with mostly an invisible cloak on. A large portion of McCoy's yardage came right at Orakpo. With Kerrigan likely out next week at Green Bay with concussion symptoms, it will be imperative for Orakpo to improve his run defense as well as come up with a game changing play -- something Kerrigan always seems to do these days.
3) It's not the end of the world
Leonard Hankerson and Griffin were a cohesive force to be reckoned with in the fourth quarter. Rookie Jordan Reed found himself making critical catches for the Redskins, even though many thought he'd listed as an inactive for the game. Rookie David Amerson had a couple of jarring hits and a near interception. Linebacker Perry Riley looked like London Fletcher out there, amassing 15 tackles and a monster sack on Vick.
The Redskins, like the Giants did on Sunday night football against the Cowboys, played mostly pathetic football all night. Yet somehow they managed to claw their way back into contention. Maybe this 2013 season won't be the cake walk for Griffin and his boys that many had predicted -- including me. But it's telling that both the Eagles and Cowboys couldn't respectively bury the Redskins and Giants on night's where both the latter teams played some of their worst football imaginable. This division, like it does almost every year, will come down to week 17.