September 20, 2019

Washington Redskins: Analysis of Preseason Dress Rehearsal Win over Ravens

We could write pages of the controversy surrounding the Washington Redskins. Was Robert Griffin III benched? Does he and did he ever have a concussion? Who will start behind center Week 1 against the Miami Dolphins? It is too early to tell all of that regardless of the several reports saying one thing or another.

All we know for sure is what we can see on the field when former Michigan State Spartan, Kirk Cousins received the opportunity of his career to play with the first unit offense in the dress rehearsal for the regular season. What did he do with that opportunity? Lets discuss that along with the rest of important things learned about the Redskins.

To start with a positive there seem to be no major injuries, not including concussion to Evan Spencer, to the Redskins although the likes of Baushad BreelandDeSean Jackson, and Ryan Kerrigan were all head out of preseason action.

Cousins’ night could have started off better as he ended his first drive with a unlucky interception. Pro Bowler Terrell Suggs read the blocking of right tackle Morgan Moses and sniffed out the screen to his side with Cousins already in the throwing motion. After Alfred Morris avoided Cousins from going into a tail spin by recovering the fumbled snap to start the second offensive drive, the “backup” quarterback put together nice throws to flip field position before the drive stalled on a fourth down.

Two drives later Cousins orchestrated the first touchdown drive by the Redskins starters this preseason by moving around in the pocket to buy his receivers more time on their routes. Before getting too hyped on the touchdown conclusion, that too was a fluke as it was off a deflection from Andre Roberts that Jamison Crowder was able to scoop up the leftovers for the score.

Cousins ended on a high note with another touchdown drive while running the two minute offense against the Ravens second string defense. Overall it was a good night for the possible week 1 starter finishing with 190 yards on 20 of 27 passing with no sacks, a touchdown and interception, both of the unintentional variety.

The running back situation for the Redskins is becoming extremely intriguing. Alfred Morris struggled as the offensive line was pushed back numerous times including on a fourth down attempt. Morris finished with just four yards on seven carries, giving him a cumulative preseason total of just 56 yards on 18 carries.

Matt Jones, on the other hand, continues to make his presence felt on a physical level after finishing the game with 57 yards on just seven carries — including nasty stiff arms and a lot of yards after contact. Morris will still likely be the starter come Week 1 but the split in number of carries could be coming closer and closer to an even split. As all of this plays out and having already paid Ryan Kerrigan and today Trent Williams, Morris might not be paid above $6 million annually like other elite running backs.

The starting defense again got off to a bad start again. Veteran Steve Smith made David Amerson and the rest of the Redskins secondary including, safety DaShon Goldson, look foolish. On an out route that Amerson was playing too far off, Smith planted his foot to cut in side and both Amerson and Goldson just fell as they could not stop their momentum. The only thing that could keep Smith from adding to his 95 yards was his ejection after a decent scrum towards the end of the first quarter. Similarly to previous preseason showings, the defense did have moments to stall the opponents and force them into field goal attempts. There will still be much to improve on as the Miami Dolphins will have a more potent offensive fire power than a Steve Smith-less Ravens.

There were several players that improved their roster stock in today’s game prior to Tuesday’s roster cuts to 75 men before the final cuts to 53 players by Saturday, September 5th.

  • UP: Rashad Ross has done nothing but show up this preseason even if it is just preseason and he is facing backup secondaries. Ross chipped in with six receptions for 56 yards and two touchdowns. In total, 163 yards leads all Redskins receivers during the preseason. A 35 yard kickoff return and a 15 punt return can do nothing but help his case to be the sixth wide receiver on the Redskins roster.
  • DOWN: Robert Griffin III did not play but by being unable to compete and show the coaching staff that he still deserves his given status as a starter the quarterback controversy grows. Cousins was an improvement in how the first unit offense was run and if Griffin cannot get cleared for game action, he will likely NOT be the Week 1 quarterback. Head coach Jay Gruden all but denied rumors that Griffin will no longer be the quarterback for the Redskins but things will be discussed in depth while considered the 2012 rookie of the year’s health. Griffin will be reevaluated as early as this Thursday to try and be cleared after having received verbal clearance from the neurologist this past Thursday.
  • UP: Justin Rodgers will likely be on the Week 1 roster as the fourth corner back while Breeland sits out serving his one game suspension. When he raced all the way across the field at the end of the half to prevent Asa Jackson from returning a kickoff for a touchdown, which eventually led to a four down goal line stand, it was the prime example of how hustle pays off. Similarly to Chris Thompson last week, hustle plays will resonate with the coaching staff for a long time and could earn Rodgers at least a practice squad spot or even a shot at making the 53 man roster past Week 1.
  • DOWN: David Amerson was given the opportunity to start against the Ravens and was given the tough assignment of covering the crafty veteran in Steve Smith. Amerson failed miserably in trying to contain the future hall of famer as he always had given up too much cushion to be able to make a play on the ball. With a banged up and aging DeAngelo Hall along with Breeland being out Week 1, things could get ugly against the likes of Mike Wallace and the Miami Dolphins if Amerson is relied on too heavily without improvement.
  • UP: Preston Smith and Jackson Jeffcoat both played well against the Ravens backups. The two linebackers combined for two sacks, a hurry from Smith that led to Jeffcoat’s interception, and  forced fumble. With the next man up mentality after Junior Galette‘s unfortunate injury, Jeffcoat has an opportunity to make the team as the eighth or ninth linebacker if he continues the high level of play.

The Redskins will move forward to make a decision on their starting quarterback once figuring out Griffin’s availability after he’s reevaluated this Thursday or Friday. It should be noted that Gruden said the independent neurologist went back on his verbal clearance on Friday which is what led to all of the confusion, nothing related to the possible “incompetence” on behalf of the Washington Redskins. Without a doubt, it will be an in-depth discussion to figure out who the starting quarterback is for Week 1. Much will be telling to see who gets the first unit snaps in practice as Griffin is still cleared for non-contact activity. Stay updated on the entire situation here at District Sports Page.

About Neil Dalal

Neil Dalal is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Redskins, Wizards, and Maryland Terrapins. Neil grew up in Silver Spring, MD and attends the University of Maryland. Neil has loved everything related to the Redskins, Wizards, Capitals, and Terrapins since he was eight years old. However, he favors the Orioles, as he started watching baseball before the Expos moved to DC. You can follow Neil on Twitter @NeilDalal96.

Comments

  1. Forget about the confusion and nonsense, about the last minute decision regarding Griffin’s status for the Ravens’ preseason game. I think at this point it is clear that Griffin sufffered a concussion in last week’s game. Otherwise, why was the neurologist involved at all? The bigger question is how Griffin got cleared so quickly stages 1-3 immediately after last week’s game to the point where Griffin was practicing the day after suffering a concussion. This is not only a Redskins problem but a league problem where the seriousness of concussion injuries and the standard protocols teams are supposed to follow are rarely adhered to.

    • Neil Dalal says:

      Hi David thanks for reading. Griffin was cleared for non-contact activity (aka practice including throwing which is stage 4 of the concussion protocol) <72 hours after last Thursday's game. Believe that clearance was given by Redskins team doctors. You are correct in saying that concussions are a big problem in the NFL. According to Gruden the neurologist went back on his verbal clearance from Thursday by submitting a report on Friday that contradicted his word.

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