Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The GBU: Browns/Redskins

(Welcome to the NFL Johnny Middle Finger!!! Screengrab by @Nick_Mathews)

So we enter the second Redskins pre-season game and instead of looking at who's on the bubble and what to expect from the new Jay Gruden offense or Jim Haslett's new aggressive defense, we're getting hammered by Johnny Football, Kyle Shanahan's return or a tabloid story about RGIII losing a QB competition.

What you might have expected was a quarterback battle between the future stars of the NFL. What we got instead was inconsistency, lots of penalty flags and a few good defensive performances. The final score, as I have said numerous times about the pre-season, doesn't matter. What does matter is how the individual players and units performed.

Let's just say we learned a lot about the 2014 team last night.

Some of the performances were quite good and there was some improvements especially when it came to hitting, tackling and have defenders swarm to the ball. Some performances make me think of the past couple of years. A great example is where the offensive line still struggles to pass protect and be able to drive the opposing team back for a single yard. In the end, the Redskins did not look ready to play Houston in week one and despite being bored to tears with the pre-season, I'm glad that the 'Skins have two more games to work out some of the bugs.

I'm not going to write about RGIII in this article because  he really deserves a The Good, The Bad and The Ugly on his own and I'll write that up later today. So let's look at who shined, who struggled and who may or may not be on the final 53 after tonight's game with this week's The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

The Good

Ryan Kerrigan (2 sacks, 2 tackles) - Kerrigan collapsed the right side of the pocket multiple times that led to multiple sacks, quarterback hits and a ton of hurries. Plus, Kerrigan refused to let a mobile Johnny Manziel get away from him.

Improved Tackling - The team swarms to the ball and players are actually tackling their opponents. Amazing concept that we didn't see in 2013. Give Jay Gruden credit for getting the players in pads and having them hit and tackle during training camp..... it clearly helped.

Bashaud Breeland (5 tackles) - Decent coverage based on what I saw last night, but man can this guy hit! Breeland was responsible for at least one pass broken up and may have helped another along the way. He also cleanly nailed multiple WRs anytime they caught a ball in his path. Very impressive game after making a big off-field mistake last week.

Bacarri Rambo (4 tackles, 1 FF) - Rambo may be the improved player in 2014 compared to his rookie season. He can tackle now. Early kudos to coach Gruden for making the team put on the pads and hit during training camp (something that Mike Shanahan did not do during his tenure). Rambo also dislodged a ball from a Cleveland player causing a major turnover.

WR Corps - DeSean Jackson, Andre Roberts, Ryan Grant, Nick Williams, Aldrick Robinson, Santana Moss and Rashad Ross. All either got wide open at least once in the game or showed how dominating they can be after catching the ball with their speed. Saw a really nice burst from Santana which I didn't think he had anymore. I keep being really impressed with long shot rookie Rashad Ross. Incredible speed, seems to be great a kick off returns. I hope the Redskins can get him to the practice squad.

The "Aggressive" Jim Haslett D - So far I like what I'm seeing with Haz's new defensive concepts. The Redskins seemed to generate pressure and force mistakes by sending more and attacking the pocket. Of course they will have to adjust throughout the season. Too aggressive and the team will leave itself open for draw plays, and big passes if the D can't get to the QB.

Rob Jackson (0.5 sacks, 2 tackles) - Jackson seemed to be all over the field last night and looks like he'll be on the final 53.

Jordan Reed (2 catches, 20 yards) - He wasn't out there long but it's clear he'll be a dominant force when the regular season begins.

Evan Royster (1 catch, 24 yards; 1 carry, 2 yards, 1TD) - Look who is trying to get back into the running back mix. A good game can go a long way even if it means that he'll be playing for another team.

Honorable mentions - Clifton Geathers, Will Compton, Gabe Miller, Morgan Moses, Lache Seastrunk. Guys who I need to re-watch this putrid game to see exactly how they fared, but they showed flashes to me at times.

The Bad

O-Line Run Game - To be fair, the Browns defense (in particular their D-Line) is quite good and they were able to slow and stop the Redskins. Obviously this is about the goal line run plays where the Redskins failed miserably to push defenders back one yard. The fact of the matter is that this O-line with exception of Trent Williams just isn't made to drive guys off the line. The Redskins will have to either throw or be more creative to get one puny yard.

Pass Blocking - Was not impressed by either the O-line or the RBs in this game when it came to protecting their quarterbacks. In two cases one Brown defender beat two O-linemen. Chester and Lichtenstiger got destroyed on one play. On the other it was with backups Tom Compton and Josh LeRibeus. Want to protect the QB and let him go through his progressions? It starts with the O-line.

QB play - Please don't tell me Kirk Cousins is the better guy. All three QBs made three bad interceptions. The two TDs thrown by McCoy and Cousins was against the same Browns defender (more on him in The Ugly). While there were some good passes made by all three, overall the QB play wasn't at its best.

Special Teams - Not a major bad here, but I would like to see this improve a bit especially in punt returns and kickoffs.

Turnovers - You don't win games with four turnovers in the regular season. Period.

The Ugly

Stat Time - Redskins dominated in total yards 429 vs. 286. They really out threw the Browns by over 100+ yards. With exception of the turnovers, the Redskins did a much better job moving the ball and getting themselves into place to score at least field goals. Sadly, the turnovers cost the team at least a 30+ score.

Skins won both on the ground (117 vs. 100) and Time of Possession (32:02 vs. 27:58) and 3rd down conversion (45% vs. 41%). You'd like to see the Redskins D do a better job in stopping third downs but it's something they can work on and penalties didn't help this stat either.

Royce Adams is slow - Both Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy burnt #40 on the Browns for deep touchdowns. #40 is Royce Adams. I don't think he makes the Browns final 53. Give credit to Ryan Grant and Nick Williams for getting open, but still Adams was toasted.

Johnny "Football" Manziel - looked like a rookie. Showed some upside, made a few plays but showed his inexperience and lack of maturity. Brian Orakpo got in his head and that led to Manziel giving the 'Skins bench the finger. Manziel thinks 'Rak making fun of his making money hand signal and his speed is rough? Wait until Manziel plays division rivals like the Steelers or Ravens. They will own him. Manziel will now be Johnny Middle Finger to me from now on.

Bubble Watch - Not good for Chris Thompson to be unable to show for another week because his injuries. I know the Redskins like him but if he can't get on the field, what's the point? Lache Seastrunk is too explosive to try and hide away on the practice squad, so it's getting less likely Thompson will be on the final 53.

I think it's fair that Robert Malone is likely to win the punter job. Meanwhile, the Forbath/Hocker kicking job is still too close to call (slight favor to Hocker at this point).

Bacarri Rambo has likely solidified a roster spot with this game.

At first I thought the Redskins would keep at least nine OL possibly going with ten. After tonight's game, I'm leaning more towards nine. That means that Tom Compton, Mike McGlynn, Josh LeRibeus, Adam Gettis and the rest will be fighting for two spots.

It is going to be tough making final cuts with linebackers. There is a ton of depth and I really like some of the young players the team has developed in camp and over the past couple of years.

Next Up: Baltimore . I just hope the Redskins don't suffer any key injuries in this game. I hate when the 'Skins play the Ravens.

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