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The Washington Commanders won their home opener against the Arizona Cardinals 20 - 16. The victory was the first under new owner Josh Harris and was before a raucous sold out crowd. Let's see how the team performed. *Podcast video reaction is at the end of the article*
The offense lead by 2nd year player QB Sam Howell struggled for most of the day. Howell was under constant pressure from a leaky offensive line but also he held the ball too long trying to make a play when throwing it away or getting the ball out fast would have sufficed. The QB did show flashes of brilliance with an off-schedule/off-platform throw to RB Brian Robinson for the games first touchdown. Later Howell would run for another score in the redzone to give his team the lead. The running game which was underutilized in the first half was relied upon heavily in the second half to take pressure off issues in the pass game and run the clock down. RB Brian Robinson gained 59yds on 19 carries. In the end too many penalties, miscues and turnovers. They won the game but not good enough.
The defense was the star of the day. It took them a few quarters to get really going but the second half gave way to dominating performances by DE Montez Sweat (1.5 sacks) and DT Jonathan Allen (1 sack). The defensive line controlled the Arizona offense the entire day. The secondary gave up very little in the pass game. The defense did give up two field goal drives in the first half but not much else after that.
PR/WR Jamison Crowder did a solid job filling in for the injured Dax Milne as the punt returner getting some nice returns. K Joey Slye made all his field goal attempts. Punter Tress Way hit some booming punts to help flip field position.
Overall the coaching was solid. The offensive gameplan and adjustments left alot to be desired. The Arizona Cardinals defensively were well prepared for the pass concepts employed by OC Eric Bieniemy. Bieniemy was able to adjust after halftime and utilize the run game to grind out the win. Much better gameplanning is expected from Bieniemy considering his experience. Jack Del Rio had a nice day and made good decisions overall. Rivera didn't have any major coaching gaffes and for the most part stayed out of his coordinators way.