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HARRIS: Game plan for Redskins defense seemed to involve a lot of guesswork
"Ball of Confusion" is a song by the Temptations that came out in 1970. It was not used by the Redskins' defense as the unit's theme song for the 2013 season opener.
It only looked that way.
The Eagles under first-year coach Chip Kelly came into FedEx Field on Monday night and made the Redskins look silly for most of the first half. There's no other way to say it, no way to be nice, no way to soften the blow. The 33-27 final is misleading. The Eagles were up 26-7 and had 322 yards at halftime.
Philadelphia's up-tempo offense had the Redskins defense looking lost, until it was too late.
"We had a good game plan," Redskins linebacker Perry Riley said.
That would not be apparent to the 82,743 who filed into the stadium for one of the most anticipated openers in years. RG3 was coming back from a severe knee injury. The Redskins were defending NFC East champs. This was supposed to be the first step in a dream season, one that of course may still turn out that way.
But the Eagles left the Redskins in the starting gate. Guess as best you can sure seemed to be the Redskins' approach to what the Eagles were doing early. And they usually guessed wrong.
"The tempo was a little faster than I thought it would be," Riley said. "I knew it would be a fast tempo. It was pretty fast. We gave up some big plays, got some people out of gaps. We fixed that in the second half, got some stops then."
DeAngelo Hall, the Redskins outspoken cornerback, was pretty direct when he discussed what he saw out of the Eagles. He did not mention a lack of preparation, though his comments certainly hinted at that.
"When you're wrong, you're wrong," Hall said. "We were definitely wrong about this team. They came out with a hell of a game plan. We kind of got a handle on it in the second half, but when you're that many points behind, it's tough.
"We have to get better. No secret about that. They had us off balance all game. A couple of times, we thought it was one thing and it was something else. I didn't think that offense would be like that. I didn't think they'd be able to jump on us like that."
Hall provided the Redskins with a rare bright spot in the first half, maybe the only bright spot. He had the presence of mind to pick up the ball when Eagles quarterback Michael Vick had a pass batted down by Ryan Kerrigan. While everyone else stopped, Hall picked it up and ran toward the end zone. It was ruled a lateral and a touchdown, a call held up by review.
Had Vick been a little more accurate, the Eagles could have had a couple more first-half touchdowns.
The Redskins offense, with RG3 looking like a guy who didn't play in the preseason, put up no points in the first half. It turned the ball over three times for the game and had a botched pitch from RG3 to Alfred Morris that led to a safety.
So in fairness to the defense, it was on the field way too much. That's trouble in any situation. It is particularly troubling when the defense doesn't quite have a handle on what it is doing.
"We've never really seen that type of offense," outside linebacker Brian Orakpo said. It's fairly new, it's intriguing."
Orakpo agreed with Riley "to a certain extent" that the speed with which the Eagles attack was even faster than expected.
"Adrenalin is rushing, anxiety, theyre moving the ball so fast the first 15-20 plays, bam, bam, bam. Once we were able to settle down, we were able to make some plays and get off the field. Next time we play this team, that's how we have to start the game."
That's not until Nov. 17, and the Redskins have plenty more to worry about between now and then. They go to Green Bay (also 0-1) on Sunday, which isn't an easy assignment. Ryan Kerrigan, the third-year player who is Orakpo's counterpart at outside linebacker, was being evaluated for a concussion after Monday's game. His absence if he is unable to go would be huge.
"This is very frustrating," Riley said. "We believe we have the talent, the team, the coaching staff to win every game this season. We came here thinking we were going to dominate and that wasn't the case. It is very disappointing."
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About the Author
Washington Times sports editor Mike Harris has more than 30 years experience in the business as a reporter, columnist and manager. He’s covered a wide variety of events including two Olympics, horse racing, auto racing, professional and college sports. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow the section on Twitter @WashTimesSports.
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