Many ecstatic Washington Redskins’ fans were probably looking past the St. Louis Rams. With rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III in tow, as well as the positive momentum from their opening day victory, rabid Redskins’ fans could imagine a 2-0 record heading into the September 23 home opener against Cincinnati.
However, the 31-28 Rams victory exposed a few things: first, the Redskins’ defense is porous. Rams’ wide receiver Danny Amendola caught 15 passes for 160 yards and one touchdown. Rams’ running back Daryl Richardson rushed for 83 yards, including a 56 yard scamper down the right sideline in the fourth quarter. The Washington defense surrendered 452 total yards in Sunday’s game. These types of performances allowed the Rams to keep possession on offense, keeping Griffin III off the field.
Second, the special teams unit is ordinary at best, dreadful at worst. Washington punter Sav Rocca had a punt blocked by the Rams, his second blocked punt in as many weeks. The Rams recovered the blocked punt deep in Redskins’ territory, and they eventually turned their good fortune into a one yard touchdown pass from St. Louis quarterback Sam Bradford to backup tight end Matthew Mulligan.
But the biggest issue the Redskins had were penalties. Washington was penalized eleven times for 96 yards. Their last penalty was a killer. Redskins’ wide receiver Joshua Morgan (pictured, center) threw the ball at Rams’ cornerback Courtland Finnegan after a reception late in the game while Washington was driving for a chance at a game tying field goal. Morgan received an unsportsmanlike penalty, moving the Redskins back fifteen yards, making the field goal attempt by kicker Billy Cundiff more difficult. Cundiff missed a 62 yard field goal. Game over.
The Redskins are not talented enough to overcome such miscues and win. Sure, they have the supremely talented Griffin III at quarterback. But they have to play smart football if they want to be competitive in the NFL. If they don’t settle their special teams and penalty issues soon, it could be another long season in Washington.