The opener of Washington’s defense of their 2012 division title was a study in frustration. It started off with Philadelphia driving down the field and looking like they were going to score easily. It did not look like the Washington defense knew what to expect or how to defend Chip Kelly’s fast paced offense. After nine plays Philadelphia was on the Washington four yard line and then Vick attempted a backwards pass and DeAngelo Hall returned it all the way for the first touchdown of the game. It felt like not only the bullet had been dodged but it had been turned back on the one who followed it.
But it got no better. The Philadelphia offense continued to ram the ball down Washington’s throat eventually jumping out to a 33-7 lead. Washington had no offensive points until Alfred Morris ran up the middle for a five yard touchdown run with eleven seconds left in the third quarter.
For the entire first half Robert Griffin looked out of rhythm, out of sync, and out of sorts. There were some questioning if he wasn’t still hurt and if he should even be playing, but after missing all of the preseason he needed this game to knock the rust off, and it took him until late in the third quarter to do it.
After the Morris touchdown Washington added a passing touchdown, Griffin to Hankerson, and Washington was striking quickly. It was starting to look like they could make a game of it, but it was too little too late. They had turned it on. Griffin had knocked the rust off, but the damage had been done. The Eagles had ten points off of two first quarter turnovers and another two off of a safety. Washington’s offense just couldn’t get it going early on. Vick, McCoy, and Jackson had spent too much time on the field running Chip Kelly’s offense and Washington had dug too deep a hole. They couldn’t come back.
For a moment there was hope. For just an instance there were shades of the Baltimore game that was part of Washington’s impressive second half of the 2012-2013 season. With a minute 20 left Griffin hit Hankerson again for a 24 yard touchdown and Washington was going to attempt an onsides kick. Philadelphia recovered and there was an offsides penalty. It was one of ten penalties for 75 yards by Washington. They had played an undisciplined brand of football, and ended up paying for it.
Take away some of the penalties, the twelve points off of turnovers or safeties, and have the Griffin of the fourth quarter play the entire game and that was the game Washington fans were expecting, but it is never as easy as showing up. The Eagles may be a less talented team with a new head coach, but they are an NFL team, and Washington was trying to use them for Griffin’s preseason, and no NFL team likes to be insulted in that manner.
This was a loss due to arrogance. Due to sloppiness. And due to lack of preparation. But how does one prepare for the unknown? Now that Chip Kelly’s offense has been seen in the NFL and tape exists teams will adjust and it will be interesting to watch. It will also be interesting to watch Griffin moving forward. Is the rust off for good? Is he going to play with the confidence he showed in the fourth quarter for the entire game against Green Bay or will he come out out of rhythm yet again?
There are positives and negatives to take from this game. The biggest positive is it was just one game and Griffin looked good at the end. If that is the Griffin seen for the rest of the season it goes well. If it is instead the tentative Griffin of the first half then it won’t. Positives and negatives. The possibilities for what happens next are endless, but at least we got to see the real Griffin for one quarter and a six point loss isn’t as bad as a 26 point loss.