October 19, 2019

Washington Redskins: Analysis of Preseason Opener Win over Browns

The Washington Redskins came back to defeat the Cleveland Browns in the preseason opener 20-17. Although it might be nice to win, the meaningless victory came at a steep price due to injuries. Both tight end Niles Paul and running back Silas Redd had to be carted off the field with ankle and knee injuries, respectively.

Head coach Jay Gruden has said disclosed that Paul is OUT for the remainder of the season due to a fractured/dislocated ankle, see . Last year Griffin had a similar injury but avoided the fracture as his ligaments were still in place. This is not only devastating news to Paul who was penciled in as the starting tight end, but for the team as well because of the possible season ending toe injury for blocking tight end Logan Paulsen.

With the injury prone Jordan Reed already nursing a sore hamstring that kept him out of last nights game, expect the team to add another tight end to the roster. Chase Dixon is one of the last tight ends standing for the team and had one nice catch and run in the game. And although it seemed preposterous before, the chances of former Redskin and ESPN980 commentator Chris Cooley getting a call have gone up slightly.

As for Redd, we are still waiting on the official MRI results but the team is seriously worried about possible ligament tears to the ACL and/or MCL. Unfortunately for last year’s third string running back, Redd will likely not even be able to earn a practice squad spot though the team may waive injury him in order to place him on injured reserve.

Now to the game. Things could have gone better for the starters but things were certainly not terrible. After the quarter, where the 15 minutes were played primarily by projected Week 1 starters, the Redskins were outscored 7-3. Things could have easily been different if Pierre Garcon makes the play on a catchable deep ball that would have resulted in a touchdown. Defensively, Chris Culliver was incorrectly penalized for pass interference, could have easily been called offensive, that resulted in a 35 yard penalty and eventually a Browns touchdown.

Now lets get to the quarterbacks. Robert Griffin III played ok, Kirk Cousins played great (take it with a grain of salt as he was playing a backup defense), and Colt McCoy played the role of a game manager to close out the victory. For a full analysis of the all three quarterbacks performance click here.

For the running backs, who are probably still getting acclimated with the power running game of of offensive line coach Bill Callahan showed out well by gaining 133 yards in the game. Alfred Morris did his usual thing always picking up positive yardage and converted a 4th and 1. Matt Jones had a couple of highlight runs before not re-entering the game after passing the concussion protocol. Trey Williams had his moments including a touchdown run, but did not do much to overtake Chris Thompson‘s current third string running back spot. You can find a full analysis of the Redskins backfield performance here.

Overall the defense did a fairly good job considering the Browns started in Redskins territory three times (twice off fumbles, once after long kickoff return) and also had a pass interference go against Culliver early on. The defense as a unit throughout the game gave up 170 yards and no points when not put in a tough position. The increase in pressure on the quarterback, with blitzing, was evident as the team notched five sacks and many more hurries that were alluded by the scrambling of Josh McCown and Johnny Manziel. The unit also totaled 7 pass deflections and one turnover on a nice last second reaction by safety Akeem Davis on a pass the went through the intended receivers hands.

Now lets take a look at whose stock is rising and whose is falling as the Redskins continue their evaluation process to cut their roster to 53 players by Friday, September 4th.

  • UP: WR Rashad Ross. Arguably the fastest player on the team behind maybe DeSean Jackson, the Arizona State product showed he wants to be the sixth wide receiver on this roster. Ross finished with 5 receptions, on 7 targets, for 68 yards. Behind the likes of Jackson, Garcon, Andre RobertsJamison Crowder, and Ryan Grant, there is likely just one wide receiver position remaining on the roster. Many have penciled in sixth round pick Evan Spencer out of Ohio State in the role, but Ross looks to change that and will if he keeps up this performance.
  • DOWN: WR Andre Roberts. Although the former Cardinal led the way with a game high 71 yards receiving on four receptions, a mighty miscue in the return game is what lands him on this list. The Redskins were highly criticized for not only their special teams coverage but also returns last year as they ranked near the bottom in the league in the field position battle. Roberts played the primary role has both the kickoff and punt returner. Last night, Roberts did a little too much dancing east and west and was stripped from behind giving the Browns a short field. Roberts will make the roster simply because he signed a 4 year $16 million deal last offseason, but the miscues have to be corrected for consistent playing time.
  • UP: K Kai Forbath. After having a rough start to training camp that Gruden called “puzzling”, the former Lou Groza award winner is returning to his accurate nature as his confidence continues to mount. After making a 33-yard field goal, not the same distance as an extra point, Forbath also nailed a 52 yard attempt just before halftime. This drew a double arm pump into the air from Gruden who was definitely excited for his kicker. Now if only he could get more distance on his kickoffs.
  • DOWN: G Arie Kouandjio. The rookie fourth round pick out of Alabama was reported early on to possibly push Spencer Long for the starting position at right guard. Everything changed once Brandon Scherff was kicked inside making Kouandjio the backup right guard in last nights game. Twice Kouandjio was slow to get outside on screen passes which meant his man had a free shot at Chris Thompson resulting in a total net of -12 yards. Kouandjio will likely make the team with Long as the backup guards because he is not being pushed too hard by Josh LeRibeus, but improvements will surely be addressed in practice.

There is a lot for the coaches to look at from this game and make improvements on in practice to see development in the rest of the preseason. Excluding the terrible injuries to both Paul and Redd, there were pleasant bright spots for the Redskins to take away.

Important Dates:

  • Training camps is officially ongoing and will last until Sunday, August 16th. See a full schedule of the Redskins training camp practices here.
  • Host the Detroit Lions for the second preseason game in 6 days on 8/20 at 7:30 PM.
  • The final cuts to a 53 man roster will take place over the next 22 days by 9/4.
  • Season and home opener against Miami Dolphins on Sunday, September 13 in 31 days.
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.

Trackbacks

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  3. […] you can make generalizations about the Washington Redskins outlook for the regular season from last weeks play, you are probably wrong. The sample size is simply too small. The starters played roughly a […]

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