Nothing like kicking off the NFL’s regular season in a stadium with more than a few visiting fans.  Now, I believe there are sound reasons why there were more than a few Dolphin fans at Fed Ex Field during the Redskins 17-10 loss to Miami:  they play at Fed Ex once every eight years and thus those who follow Dolphins are apt to pay more for seats than say a Lions or Eagles fan.  But it’s the first game of the year–how do you not show up for that?  It remains to be seen if this year will be more boom (3 postseason berths in last 11 years) or bust (8 last place finishes in 11 seasons)…but week one was not encouraging.

Kirk at the Controls– the new #1 QB threw for 191 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions.  The absence of Desean Jackson (hamstring–3 to 4 weeks) limited the downfield game…and thus Cousins averaged under 10 yards per completion.  His two picks could have resulted in much worse:  the first was at the Redskin 21 and Miami turned the ball over on downs while the second at the Dolphins goal line only resulted in 2:35 run off the clock as they got the ball back with 5 minutes left in regulation.  Does he bounce back from this like he did in the Ravens preseason game?  Or does Cousins regress like he did from the Eagles loss to the Giants debacle last fall?

Saved by Mr. Morris– #46 struck oil under the football field…rushing for 121 yards on 25 carries with Matt Jones playing the role of Slater and Chris Thompson making an appearance as Screech.  If there’s one thing this team can do and will be committed to doing, it’s run the football.  Shame this isn’t 1975…

Garcon, Desean & Jordan– Pierre made 6 catches for 74 yards…while Jackson sat with a strained hamstring after a banged up shoulder prevented #11 from playing in the preseason.  They’ve already talked about getting Garcon more touches–and that was after a 2014 season where Garcon was targeted 11 more times than Jackson.  Jordan Reed is healthy– and when he is, the tight end catches 7 passes for 63 yards and a touchdown.  Knock on wood (he missed 12 games over his first two seasons.

Third and a Tale of Two Halves– the Skins converted 6 of 14 attempts…but went 0-5 after halftime.  They moved the chains on 5 of 9 pass plays and on 1 of 5 runs (3 were draw plays on 3rd and double digit yardage).  Cousins completed 3 passes to Jordan Reed and 2 to Pierre Garcon for first downs…while his 3rd quarter completion to Jamison Crowder was stopped after no gain.  Yardage breakdown:  1-2 short, 5-5 intermediate (4 to 6 yards needed) and 0-7 on third and long.  It’s tough to come up for 3rd & 24 or 3rd & 29 plays…but we’ll get into that.

Flying Flags– 11 penalties for 88 yards doesn’t begin to paint the picture.  Last season the Skins were flagged for the 8th most penalties for the 3rd most yardage in the league…and Sunday’s infractions were with Bashaud Breeland suspended (the defensive back ranked 3rd in the NFL in penalties and had the most penalty yards per game in 2014).  Six were against the offense with the other two against the defense…with holding (3) the most popular.  Multiple offenders were Morgan Moses (false start, personal foul) and Jordan Reed (holding, pass interference).  Which ones hurt the most?  In the third quarter the team was at the Miami 23 when a delay of game, pass interference and hold pushed them back to the Dolphin 47 (the aforementioned 3rd &29).  Instead of a 40-yard field goal, they had to punt.  In the fourth quarter a hold and a personal foul moved the Skins from a potential 2nd and 6 on their 24 to a 3rd and 24 from the 6.  Punting away from their own 15– the Skins allowed the go-ahead touchdown on the ensuing return.  That’s 10 points…and the game.

Defending the Defense– the Skins bent but only broke once:  late in the first half.  The pass rush notched 3 sacks and inspired Boots Randolph’s Yakkety Sax in their 3rd quarter fumble recovery.  But do you want a cornerback (DeAngelo Hall) and a safety (Trent Robinson) leading the team in tackles (8 apiece)?  Safety Deshon Goldson’s 6 stops was good enough for third on the team.

Rapidly Shrinking Secondary– thank goodness Breeland is coming back, though.  Duke Ihenacho is done for the year as the safety suffered a dislocated wrist and cornerback Chris Culliver will be suspended one game for violating the personal conduct policy.  DeAngelo Hall missed time as well in the first half after being kicked in the ribs but returned after intermission.  Will Compton…come on down!  You’re the next free agent pickup on the Secondary is Light!

Special Kicking Teams– forgive me for referring to the punt, kickoff and field goal units as special in the preseason.  While Jamison Crowder averaged 11.5 yards per punt return and Chris Thompson tallied a 36 yard kickoff return, the coughing up of a 69-yard runback for a score to the Dolphins is reminiscent of the issues this unit has had the last few years–right or wrong.  One hopes its just an opening day aberration where Tress Way outkicked his coverage with less hang time than desired.  Twice is a trend…and we’ll have our eyes on the kicking game next week.

RIP, Cobra Kai– this is difficult to stomach.  After making a 45-yard field goal and missing a 46-yarder against the Dolphins, Kai Forbath found himself out of a job the next day despite making 87% of his career attempts with the team.  Coach Jay Gruden said that the team is looking for more range and better kickoffs.  Sadly, this ends the 3-plus year dance where one was able to refer to “Karate Kid” and Billy Zabka on a weekly basis.  It was a journey that included breakdowns of how Mr. Miyagi got the drop on the skeleton-costumed pack.  We revisited “Back to School” and “Just One of the Guys” with equal enthusiasm.  This space even imagined a Johnny Lawrence who could’ve turned his life around if he had only listened to Bobby.  Yes, I’ll say that we’ve had enough.  No mercy, indeed…

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