The 2012 season opens for the Washington Redskins on Sunday, as the team heads to New Orleans for its debut against the New Orleans Saints on Sept. 9. Kickoff from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome is set for 1 p.m. ET. The game is expected to be the professional debut of Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, whom the Redskins selected with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Griffin III, whose family hails from New Orleans, is expected to become the first rookie to start at quarterback for the Redskins in Week 1 since Norm Snead’s professional debut at San Francisco on Sept. 17, 1961.
A win Sunday would add to Redskins Executive Vice President/Head Coach Mike Shanahan’s lustrous career record on Kickoff Weekend. Shanahan leads all active NFL head coaches with 14 wins in games played on Week 1, three wins ahead of Bill Belichick, who is second on the list with 11.
New Orleans will enter the game hungry for action, fresh off the news that the suspensions have been lifted, allowing Will Smith and Jonathan Vilma to play. Luckily, Vilma won’t suit up on Sunday – but Will Smith has practiced all off-season and he’s only been suspended five days, which means he will play against Washington.
The Redskins have an opportunity to expose an opportunistic Saints’ defense. They pride themselves on forcing turnovers, but if the Redskins are able to win the turnover battle, their chances of winning will increase. New Orleans is not consistent in coverage and if Washington is able to keep the score close, they can have their way on the ground. New Orleans was the least run against team in the NFL last season, yet allowed 5.0 yards a carry which ranked 29th.
Washington has to play deceiving and physical, yet disciplined defense to have a chance at limiting the Saints high octane offense. Since 2006, the Saints have led the league in yards after the catch. Washington must wrap up and bring receivers down after a catch.
This will be a difficult outing for Washington, but a winnable game if they stay focused and out-physical the Saints.
Emmanual Benton is a featured Washington Redskins columnist for Rantsports.com. If you enjoy talking Redskins and all things NFL, follow Emmanual on Twitter: Follow @Roccoskins_PPI