To paraphrase a question that is making the rounds in political circles these daysare the Redskins better off today than they were one year ago?Its easy to go overboard with the Redskins 40-32 win over the Saints in New Orleans. After all, you dont have to go back more than one year to find the Redskins with a big opening day win over a quality opponent. They created all sorts of buzz a year ago when they beat the Giants 28-14 in last years season opener. Players talked about there being a new attitude in the locker room, that things would be different in 2011.And the good feelings lasted a while as they moved to 2-0 and later to 3-1. But things came crashing down after that and they won just two of the their final 12 games.But at least right now, this one feels different. The main reason, of course, is the play of Robert Griffin III. It could be argued that he hadthe best debut any rookie quarterback has ever had.Rex Grossman had a pretty good day against the Giants, completing 21 of 34 passes for 305 yards and two touchdowns. But nobody walked away from that game thinking that a star was born and maybe the Redskins had their long-term solution at the most important position on the field.But there was more than that. An offensive line that was thought to be a weakness was very much a strength, as Griffin was sacked just once and the Redskins rushed for 153 yards.Against the Giants, Grossman was sacked four times and the Redskins rushed just 75 yards.Tim Hightower was the main runner against the Giants and he picked up 72 yards on 25 carries. At 2.9 yards a carry his performance was passable but not spectacular. Today Alfred Morris picked up 96 yards on 28 carries, a 3.7 average. Morris was not spectacular but he did become one of just five players to rush for at least 90 yards and score two or more touchdowns in his NFL debut. Advantage: MorrisA year ago against the Giants, the defense put up better numbers than they did yesterday. But, with all due respect to Eli Manning, Hakeem Nicks, and company, the Saints are a much better offense. And against New Orleans they came up big on a couple of occasions.Late in the third quarter the Saints were threatening to halve the Redskins lead. Trailing 30-14, Brees drove the Saints to a third and goal at the three. His pass to Darren Sproles was on the money but London Fletcher came up and knocked the ball loose.Then, the only time after the first quarter that the Saints had the ball with a chance to tie the game, their drive lasted just one play. DeJon Gomes, filling in at safety for the injured Brandon Meriweather, picked off Brees deep pass and returned it 49 yards to the three. One play later Morris put the game out of reach with a touchdown run.There were some down moments. Mike Shanahan may have been able to pull Griffin in the fourth quarter and let Kirk Cousins have some fun if not for a blocked punt late in the first half that turned a 20-7 laugher into a one-score game. Later in the game the prevent defense didnt prevent much of anything. And rookie safety Jordan Bernstine suffered a knee injury that might cost him the rest of the season.Despite that, the Redskins have plenty of reasons to feel good about themselves today and their fans have plenty of reasons to be optimistic.Should they feel better than they did a year ago? It seems that they should, but time will tell.
The Redskins got a win - and we got JP Finlay talking with Rich Tandler, Barstool Nate and Mary Kay Cabot of The Cleveland Plain Dealer previewing the Browns in our next RedskinsTalk podcast.
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Significant injuries to the Redskins offensive line and defensive secondary will cause a number of position changes for the Redskins. When Washington gets on the practice field Wednesday at 1 p.m., and rain or shine, the team will look different after losing Kory Lichtensteiger, Shawn Lauvao, DeAngelo Hall and Bashaud Breeland. Here's what we'll be watching:
- Who's at left guard - Injuries to Lauvao and Lichtensteiger have a serious domino effect on the Redskins offensive line. Spencer Long is the backup to both men, and with the former Cornhusker at center, means left guard doesn't have a natural backup. Arie Kouandjio has been working for more than a year to be ready to play guard for Washington, and he might get the chance. The 'Skins also signed center John Sullivan, last of the Vikings, to the team on Tuesday. If and when Sullivan can get ready, he could allow Jay Gruden to move Long to guard.
- Corner store - Breeland's injury is not as severe as the offensive linemen's, and perhaps more important to the team, there is better depth at corner. Rookie Kendall Fuller is likely to see his first game action this Sunday against Cleveland, and the 'Skins can count on Greg Toler and Quinton Dunbar to have increased roles with Breeland out. Watching Fuller work in with the defense will be very interesting to see, as he's been working with the scout team for much of the early season.
- Safety button - D-Hall out for the year is a blow for Washington — no way around it. But expect lots more Will Blackmon at that spot. And Duke Ihenacho and even Deshazor Everett can provide increased snaps.
For live updates check out @JPFinlayCSN from the practice fields.
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