Washington had a chance to move to 2-0 for the first time since 2011 but strong play from the Colts defense and key adjustments in the offensive passing game led to an upset. Washington (1-1) fell to Indianapolis (1-1), 21-9. DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in-game report:
Meet the NFL’s tackle leader: Darius Leonard, the 31st-ranked player on DraftNasty’s 2018 Big Board. And if you watched Leonard at South Carolina State this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Leonard stuffed the stat sheet against the Redskins, posting 18 tackles, one quarterback sack, a forced fumble and a pass deflection. As his numbers would indicate, Leonard was dominant in the run and pass game. What was most impressive in the game against Washington was Leonard’s ability to use his closing speed to diagnose plays and keep potential 10-15 yard gains to minimal pickups. The rookie linebacker wears the helmet transmitter during games and has made himself into the quarterback of the defense. His athleticism allows him to match up against tight ends and running backs in the pass game and is willing to help in the run game. He reminds me of Derrick Brooks with his sideline-to-sideline quickness and his matchup versatility. Look for the Colts, who are in a rebuilding mode, to continue to build the defense around rookie linebacker Darius Leonard.
Frank Reich has made a name in the NFL as a coach because of his ability to adapt and tailor his game plans from week-to-week. The Colts used a heavy diet of pick plays against man-to-man coverage that caught the Redskins off guard. Washington has several corners, including Josh Norman and Quinton Dunbar, who excel in press man coverage and the pick routes used by the Colts allowed their quick-twitched receivers to roam free over the middle of the field and took away the Redskins’ strong suit of jamming receivers at the line. T.Y. Hilton, the Colts star receiver, was the beneficiary of the game plan and from the first drive of the game it was clear that the Colts plan of attack centered on getting Norman off of his body. To begin the second quarter, Luck bought Hilton in motion from the right sideline to the numbers and immediately snapped the ball, which gave the Pro Bowl receiver more room to work with on his post route against Norman, who couldn’t jam the receiver at the line. Hilton finished with seven catches for 83 yards and a touchdown against Washington.
If the Colts offense was original, the Redskins offense was vanilla and predictable. The Redskins finished with just 65 rushing yards and 269 passing yards, the bulk of which came in garbage time. Washington thrived in Week 1 with a balanced running attack but as has been the case in Jay Gruden’s tenure, the team has a tendency to abandon the run for no obvious reason. The team’s receivers aren’t at the level to carry their offense and struggled against the Colts cornerbacks to get separation in their routes. Look for Washington to get back to a more balanced attack against Green Bay as Gruden may open the game with a deep ball or two to loosen up the Packers secondary.