Key Decision #1: (WAS ball, up 7-0/fourth-and-1 midfield/9:18 Q2 )
• We’re all about momentum here at HCR; we think every head coach needs to be very sensitive to it, especially when you’re the head coach on the road. Washington scored a TD on their second possession and had good momentum, as both units we’re playing well.
• In this situation, WAS head coach Jay Gruden could have punted the ball, as his defense was playing well and the Cardinals were quite sluggish offensively. However, he chose to go for it. The try was successful, led to a TD and a 14-0 lead, and WAS was never threatened after that.
• The AZ OL vs. WAS DL matchup was never favorable for the Cards coming into the game, but the Cards were overly cautious with their gameplan in our view. We understand that QB Sam Bradford is on the frail side, but at some point, you do have to open it up, especially in front of a home crowd.
• WAS head coach Gruden turned in a masterful performance on all sides. He got his play-makers into the game early, and this personnel utilization excited his players. TE Jordan Reed, RBs Chris Thompson and Adrian Peterson all performed well, and none were asked to do things outside their zone.
• WAS offense played to a crisp tempo, and it appears that Gruden is able to use QB Alex Smith in ways that he could not with Kirk Cousins in 2017. We feel the Smith-Gruden combination will be a good one.
• AZ rookie head coach Steve Wilks’ team played with little energy on offense; on defense, they were on their heels all game. We did not see any significant in-game adjustments.