The Washington Redskins claimed their first victory of the 2017 season on Sunday at the Memorial Coliseum. A 27-20 win over the Los Angeles Rams brought the Redskins to 1-1 to start the season. The Redskins took on an LA Rams team who had dismantled the Indianapolis Colts in week 1. Second year quarterback Jared Goff was coming off an impressive week 1 performance, recording 306 passing yards with 21 completions. Heading into week 2, it is fair to say that things were not looking very optimistic for the Redskins. Following a week 1 loss to their divisional rivals, as well as the Cowboys picking up an opening week win, the Redskins were already chasing the pack in the NFC East. This made week 2 a must win for Jay Gruden and his team, with a tough schedule coming up.
However, what we saw instead has fuelled Redskins fans with optimism and excitement for the season ahead. Here are my top three takeaways from the Redskins week 2 victory over the Rams.
Redskins Running Game
The biggest takeaway from Sunday’s game was unquestionably the dominance of the Redskins running game. An effective running game has been a big component missing from the Redskins offence over recent seasons. Part of the reason why Kirk Cousins has been able to throw for over 4,000 in each of the last two seasons may indeed be down to the lack of running options in the Redskins offence. But this was certainly not the case on Sunday. The Redskins ran for a total 229 yards, the second highest total rushing yards under head coach Jay Gruden.
The Redskins experienced rushing success right from the outset. Both Robert Kelley and Chris Thompson recorded over 75 rushing yards in the first quarter alone, the first time since December 2005 the Redskins have achieved this feet. Robert Kelley was forced to exit the game midway through the second quarter with a rib injury. Despite not making it through to halftime, Kelley was still able to record 78 rushing yards in 12 rushing attempts, averaging 6.5 yards per carry. Chris Thompson was certainly the standout figure for the Redskins in week 2. Thompson recorded 77 yards in 3 carries, which included a 61- yard touchdown in the second quarter. Even fourth round pick Samaje Perine was amongst the action, recording 67 rushing yards from 21 attempts. On Sunday we saw a glimpse of the threat the Redskins running game can pose. Does Cousins now have another option to turn to on offense to give oppostitions something else to worry about?
Redskins defensive plays
With the Redskins offence firing, it was up to the defence to protect the lead captured in the first half. An initial worry for the Redskins was allowing the Rams to draw closer to the strong lead they had gained in the first half. However, despite having opportunities, the Rams were never able to lead during the week 2 encounter. A big reason for this was certainly the ability of the Redskins defence to produce big plays in crucial moments.
There were high expectation set for Josh Norman ahead of his second year with the Redskins. In this game, we saw glimpses of the very best from Norman. The cornerback recorded two forced fumbles during the game, one was recovered by Terrell McClain causing a turnover in possession. Linebacker Mason Foster made the game winning interception with 1 minute 44 seconds left on the clock. Foster anticipated Jared Goff’s throw to Cooper Kupp, which allowed the Redskins to secure their first win of the season.
Redskins new linebacker Zach Brown recorded 10 tackles on Sunday, the most on the Redskins defense. Brown recorded the third highest tackles in the NFL last season, and is currently doing exactly what the Redskins brought him in to do.
Although the Rams caused problems for the Redskins defense, the Raiders will pose another level of threat in week 3. Here we will truley see how this Redskins defense will fair against a top offensive side in the league.
Still uncertainty surrounding Cousins?
With Kirk Cousins expected to move on once the season has finished, he will unquestionably face criticism from the Redskins faithful throughout the season. We definitely did not see the best of Kirk Cousins in week 2. But with the running game being as dominant as it was, it maybe understandable why this was the case. However, when both Kelley and Thompson left the field, Cousins stepped up and took centre stage. Cousins was 9/13 for 88 yards in the second half, and was working in good tandem with his new receiving core. An 11-yard touchdown to Ryan Grant to seal the game will hope to give the Redskins more confidence down the stretch. Now with what looks to be a stronger running game, Cousins may have another option to turn to on offense.
Overall, week 2 will be remembered as a huge success for the Washington Redskins. The fact they now have an effective running game to compliment their receiving core has filled Redskins fans with optimism. On top on this, the news that all three divisional rivals lost their fixtures will further bolster the morale of Redskins camp.
But now the toughest test lies ahead in week 3. The Oakland Raiders have been in frightening form to begin the season, claiming a dominant 45- 20 victory against the New York Jets in week 2. This matchup will give us a much better indication if the Redskins will be able to compete effectively this season. And it does not get any easier, with the Kansas City Chiefs awaiting in week 4. Like the Raiders, the Chiefs have started the season 2-0, and also look in frightening form. The tough schedule ahead for the Redskins highlights the importance a week 2 victory was in competing this season. With the Eagles, Cowboys and Giants loosing in week 2, the Redskins are back in contention ahead of week 3. It will certainly be an interesting few weeks ahead for the Redskins.
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Redskins 27-20 Rams