Forgive the Monday Morning Quarterback for experiencing definite deja vu in the Redskins‘ season opener yesterday in the House that Jack Built (and Danny Expanded).
The quarterback started his first opener for the Redskins (just substitute Jason Campbell for Mark Brunell). Clinton Portis finished off a nice run by dashing into the end zone for Washington’s first touchdown.
On the opposite sideline was a team from Florida (Miami, 2007; Tampa Bay, 2004) quarterbacked by a former Redskins starter (Trent Green, 2007; Brad Johnson, 2004). The visitors couldn’t mount a rushing attack against Washington’s swarming defense.
Of course, that 16-10 victory over the Bucs in 2004 didn’t launch Joe Gibbs II toward a winning season. And yesterday’s 16-13 overtime squeaker over the Dolphins doesn’t portend anything for Monday’s NFC East matchup in Philadelphia, let alone the rest of the season. But for just the fourth time since 2005, the Redskins left their own stadium with smiles on their faces.
Q: So, Mr. Know-It-All, you had the Redskins getting off on the right foot because of Shaun Suisham’s right foot, right?
A: Cute. Actually, I had Redskins 17, Dolphins 13, which would’ve been very close to the score if Fred Smoot hadn’t picked up Handsus Stonus disease from Carlos Rogers. But give Suisham his props. The quiet Canadian is now 11-for-12 in his six games with the Redskins — a huge change from the usual kicker-of-the-month deal.
Q: Have we seen the last of Jon Jansen this year?
A: Likely, yes. For the second time in four years, the veteran offensive tackle didn’t survive the first half of the opener. Expect his dislocated right ankle to be confirmed as a season-ender today.
Q: So what does my man Buges do?
A: Offensive line coach Joe Bugel opted for Stephon Heyer rather than former New York Jets starter Jason Fabini yesterday even though the rookie free agent had never played on the right side. Longtime right tackle Todd Wade, inactive yesterday, expects to start in Philadelphia, but I have a feeling that Heyer will get the call.
Q: So Clinton Portis really doesn’t need preseason, huh?
A: It’s hard to argue with 98 yards and a touchdown in 17 carries against a tough Dolphins defense. If Portis returns in 2008, he might not show up at Redskin Park until September.
Q: It looked to me like the defense is back. Is it?
A: Gregg Williams’ guys had a strong summer and shut down the run yesterday, but remember that Miami’s offense is a work in progress under rookie coach Cam Cameron. Let’s hold off saying the NFC’s worst defense of last season is back to its form of 2004-05 until it carries the day against a quality offense like Philly’s.
The Redskins can talk about Green taking what they gave him, but Dolphins wideout Chris Chambers (six catches, 92 yards and the pass-interference penalty that set up the overtime-forcing field goal) ate Smoot and Carlos Rogers alive.
Q: Where was that Antwaan Randle El all last season? I think he had more big plays yesterday than he had in 16 games last year.
A: Randle El made three superb catches: a 35-yarder on which he adjusted from inside to outside shoulder; a 49-yard bomb off a play-fake; and a 54-yarder off a deflected Hail Mary on which he came down just 3 yards shy of the end zone on the last play of regulation. All three were longer than any catch the ex-Steeler had in 2006.
Q: How did Jason Campbell perform in his first season opener?
A: The rust showed. Campbell had not played a series against a starting defense since he injured his left knee three weeks ago against the Steelers. His two interceptions were Patrick Ramseyesque — he locked onto his target for too long. His passer rating minus the Hail Mary was an ugly 47.5.
Q: So what happens on Monday in Philly?
A: The Eagles will be angry, having lost on a last-second field goal yesterday in Green Bay. They usually are very tough at home, but the Redskins actually have won three of seven games in Philly since the Eagles became contenders again in 2000.
Still, I gotta go with the Birds.