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Senior NFL Columnist

Monday Musings: Give Skins' defense credit

The Washington Redskins' victory over the New OrleansSaints on Sunday was all about Robert Griffin III in terms of major storyline. But there was another for the Redskins, which is how well the defense played. Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett's unit did a heck of a job getting after Drew Brees. The Saints played all man coverage on the outside receivers, something that seemed risky considering the questions about the team's secondary. But it worked. The Saints had less than 300 yards going into the final quarter, which is a heck of a feat inside the Superdome. "All man," Haslett said. "All man. We didn't want him having easy areas to throw to. For Haslett, who was fired by the Saints as the team's head coach in 2006, it was the second impressive victory for him against the Saints. He beat the Saints in 2007 with the Rams in the Superdome. He said he showed that video to the Redskins players last week to give them an idea of what was coming. Playing without his projected two starting safeties -- Brandon Meriweather is hurt, Tanard Jackson is suspended for a year -- Haslett turned to DeJuan Gomes and Madieu Williams, who helped make things tough for the Saints receivers.

Redskins players going into the locker room after the game: "Who Dat? We dat."

The Saints have pass-rush issues. They had all kinds of problems getting after RGIII. The Redskins' offensive line isn't supposed to be very good, but they did a nice job holding up against the pressure. If the Saints don't get more from that pass rush, they'll need Brees to break his own passing record.

They say you're never as good as you look in Week 1 and never as bad as you look. The Miami Dolphins better hope the latter is true. They didn't look good.

Still think Blaine Gabbert can't play? I think that talk is going away. Gabbert missed what should have been an early touchdown pass against the Minnesota Vikings, but his last-minute drive to a go-ahead touchdown for the Jacksonville Jaguars was impressive, including the 39-yard touchdown pass to Cecil Shorts with 20 seconds left. Gabbert did lose a fumble on an exchange.

The Houston Texans were always open to giving quarterback Matt Schaub a new deal, but they were concerned with his asking price. He isn't in the Drew Brees-Tom Brady class, so there was no way he was going to get that type of money. But the deal he got is worth $62.5 million with $24.5 million guaranteed. That's fair for both sides. Props to each for working out the long-term deal. Next up: Connor Barwin.

Loved Stevan Ridley coming out of LSU -- you can look it up -- and he looks to be the New England Patriots' No. 1 back after rushing for 125 yards against the Tennessee Titans. Ridley runs hard and should help improve a Patriots running game that needed it.

J.J. Watt is a beast. He had 1 1/2 sacks against the Miami Dolphins after missing the entire preseason with an elbow injury. He is on his way to being a perennial Pro Bowl player.

The Jaguars have high hopes for right tackle Cameron Bradfield. But he got hurt early against the Vikings, putting in Guy Whimper, who just might be the worst lineman in the league. Whimper really struggled in 2011 as a starter and he didn't do much against the Vikings. He is a turnstile.

The Atlanta Falcons' new-look offense was impressive. I've been saying for a long time they had the weapons to be an up-tempo offense. Now they have one. New offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter is a heck of a coach who was held back in Jacksonville. With Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Roddy White, the Falcons have the pieces to throw it around and they put up 40 on the road to beat the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. Keep an eye on Koetter. He could be a hot-coaching commodity come February.

How can a team that has big-money contracts tied up with two backs -- even if one of them didn't play Sunday -- rush for minus-1 yard in the first half of a game? That's what Carolina did against Tampa Bay. By the way, they also have a quarterback in Cam Newton who can run. The Panthers finished with 10 rushing yards.

I have to give big props to Alex Smith. He played well against the Green BayPackers. If he plays that way, the San Francisco 49ers could win the Super Bowl. Just remember: One game.

49ers left tackle Joe Staley was a spinning top against the Packers. He has to be better.

Kevin Kolb, you are back. For now. He made some nice throws on the Arizona Cardinals' game-winning drive.

Chicago Bears defensive tackle Henry Melton, a guy I put on my Pro Bowl team last season, had two sacks against the Indianapolis Colts. He is a rising player inside for the Bears. He's a former college running back, which is why he is so athletic.

Should the Philadelphia Eagles be concerned about Mike Vick throwing four picks? I would say so. He threw 56 passes against the ClevelandBrowns. I love passing, but they have to get LeSean McCoy more involved.

Why were people excited about Peyton Hillis in Kansas City? He had 16 yards on seven carries against the Falcons. He just doesn't make people miss.

C.J. Spiller has to touch the ball more in Buffalo. With Fred Jackson dinged with a knee, he might. Spiller is so explosive. He had 169 yards on 14 carries, including a 56-yard touchdown run.

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