The Redskins had 349 yards of total offense, including 161 yards on the ground, Sunday against the Dolphins, giving Kirk Cousins and the offense confidence heading into Week 2.*
Much of the talk heading into Sunday's Redskins-Dolphins season opener seemed to center on how Washington would plan on stopping Miami's impressive defensive front, led by offseason free agent signee Ndamukong Suh.
When all was said and done Sunday afternoon at FedExField, however, the Redskins' offense, led by quarterback Kirk Cousins, had tallied 349 yards of total offense, including 161 yards on the ground. But untimely penalties and missed opportunities in the red zone made the difference in the Redskins' 17-10 Opening Day loss.
"We moved the football," Cousins said. "We just have some drive stalls in the high red zone or the strike zone. As I said, there's a lot of takeaways that make you feel optimistic and make you feel like we've got some good pieces in place. It's going to be about playing through this, building upon it, and trusting that if we just keep pushing good things will happen."
Washington (0-1) can certainly feel optimistic about its rushing attack. Two-time Pro Bowler Alfred Morris ran the ball 25 times for a game-high 121 yards, breaking free for several long runs in the first half thanks to some big holes up front.
Rookie running back Matt Jones added six carries for 28 yards in his NFL debut.
In all, the Redskins ran the ball 37 times for 171 yards – an average of 4.4 yards per carry.
"That's what we want to do," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said. "We're going to run the ball this year – I've stated it before, I'll state it again. … I'm encouraged by the way we ran the ball, Alfred and obviously Matt Jones when he came in there."
Through the air, Cousins completed 21-of-31 passes for 196 yards and a touchdown to tight end Jordan Reed. But Cousins was also picked off twice in his first Opening Day start since college, and wide receiver DeSean Jackson was knocked out of the game in the first quarter with a hamstring injury.
The Michigan State product said he's going to get in the film room and try to make sure his mistakes don't happen again.
"All we know to do is to go back, be hard on ourselves, be hard on one another, challenge one another, have a great week of practice and come back with the right mindset next Sunday," Cousins said. "I was encouraged by what I saw today, and I think if we keep doing that, this rock is going to break here eventually."
As for the aforementioned Suh, the former Lions All-Pro finished the game with just two tackles against rookie right guard Brandon Scherff and second-year right tackle Morgan Moses. And, in all, Cousins was sacked just once, by defensive tackle Jordan Phillips.
"I think for the most part Morgan and Brandon, in their first game together, I'm happy with the way they played," Gruden said. "You know, it's really something for our offensive line, tight ends, running back, for our whole offense to really feel good about. If you are going to feel good about a loss, it's something to feel good about when you rush for over a hundred yards against a front like that."
Cousins said, overall, he was "very, very pleased" with his offense, but knows it has to improve each week moving forward, starting next Sunday with another opponent featuring a talented defensive front in the St. Louis Rams.
"There are pieces that excite you, and I feel they will give us a chance over the long haul," Cousins said. "Today was one game out of 16, and we're excited about getting back to work now, and trying to improve upon today."