COMMENTARY | While many were unsure of what to expect from the Philadelphia Eagles coming into the season, the Washington Redskins should know exactly what to expect from the Green Bay Packers. Aaron Rodgers is one of, if not the best quarterback in the league and the Packers have been perennial contenders since winning Super Bowl XLV in 2010. If the Redskins hope to escape Lambeu Field with a win, the most important thing they can do is eliminate the stupid mistakes they made in Week 1.
Griffin does not have to throw for 400 yards and rush for another 100, Morris does not have to rush for four touchdowns, Pierre Garcon does not have to do his best Jerry Rice impression; the best thing they can do is eliminate the turnovers and the penalties.
Many raved about the offensive performance of the Eagles in Week 1, pointing to the whopping 53 plays they ran offensively in the first half as evidence that head coach Chip Kelly was changing the way the game was played. Many of those stats, however, were greatly inflated by the Redskins' numerous offensive miscues including penalties and turnovers. The Eagles would have run far fewer plays and the game likely would have been much closer had the Redskins not turned the ball over three times in the first half or given up a safety. If Shanahan and co hope to beat the Packers, they cannot continue to make these types of mistakes.
Obviously most people believe the biggest issue for the offense is the continuing recovery of Robert Griffin III and they are right. Griffin is the leader of this offense, the one who everything is built around. This is a completely different team without him, but as long as he is on the field the Redskins have a shot even if he is not yet the dual threat quarterback we saw last season.
Remember, Griffin led the team to a 14-0 lead against Seattle last January and he could hardly walk. Obviously it would be great if he showed off that cheetah speed and broke a long run on Sunday, but in terms of the Packers, it is more important that he does not throw two interceptions than it is for him to rush for 100 yards.
Not putting him in a position where he has to do it all himself would also help.
Alfred Morris was a very pleasant surprise for the Redskins last season. As a rookie, he was the league's second leading rusher with 1,613 yards, behind only Adrian Peterson. What was especially impressive was the fact that he only turned the ball over three times.
He fumbled on his very first carry against the Eagles. He averaged 100.8 rushing yards per game last season. On Monday, he had 45.
The Redskins' offense is hobbled when Morris cannot establish a running game, especially with Griffin not wanting to tuck it and run himself. A strong running game will open up the passing game for Griffin as the Packers will be forced to load the box to stop the ground attack.
Consider what happened to the Packers last week. Their defensive game plan was clearly based on containing Colin Kaepernick, the mobile quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers. The Packers loaded the box with an eight man front and dropped into a cover three zone.
The result? Kaepernick torched them for 404 passing yards, three passing touchdowns, and a loss. The Packers would not have let that happen if they did not feel they needed to account for San Francisco's rush attack. The Redskins need to be able to rely on Morris to establish a rushing game and force the Packers to account for the run.
Perhaps there was no bigger sign that the Redskins' offense was out of sync than the seven times they were penalized Monday. You know what is a good way to protect your star quarterback? Don't force him into obvious passing situations by continually taking stupid penalties. That could help.
The Redskins as a team averaged seven penalties a game last season, the offense committed seven by itself Monday. Five of those came in the first half.
To see the importance of eliminating these simple mistakes, compare the two halves of Monday's game. The Redskins committed three turnovers and five penalties in the first half. The offense scored zero points. In the second half, they committed no turnovers and only two penalties and scored 20. Even after the disastrous start, they lost by only six points and could have won had they recovered an onside kick.
If the Redskins want to avoid an 0-2 start to their season, the absolute best thing they can do is eliminate their own stupid mistakes. Make the Packers beat you, don't beat yourselves.
JJ Regan is earning his master's in journalism at American University and is a current freelancer for Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic. Follow him on Twitter @TheDC_Sportsguy
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