Monday, August 11, 2014

The GBU: Patriots/Redskins

(The run game played a significant role on Thursday. Photo: AP/Richard Lipski)
And the Jay Gruden era begins.........

Look, I shouldn't have to tell you that this is pre-season week one and that despite a solid victory by the Redskins over the Patriots you shouldn't get overly excited by the final results.

You shouldn't.

You also should avoid those who want to tell you that Kirk Cousins or Colt McCoy is better than RGIII, that there are better options on this team than Alfred Morris and that some 4th stringer will beat out Ryan Clark for the starting FS job. They are just overzealous fans or some media writers looking to stir up some controversy for page hits.

That said, there were a lot of good things to take away from this game and while I'll try to keep this week's The Good, The Bad and The Ugly to a minimal since this game was much more about individual performances than gameplans.

I will say that I like what we saw in this game in concepts that we saw on Thursday (yes, I know the plays used were typically of the vanilla variety) in that the Redskins ran the ball early and often. Also, I like how Jay Gruden uses checkdowns and shorter routes to allow the quarterback to get rid of the ball.

The goal is to allow Robert Griffin III to stay in the pocket and get the ball off quickly. This may eliminate a few of his amazing plays he makes with his feet, but hopefully he'll get hit less and the Redskins can finally have him for a full sixteen game season.

It's hard to say how effective the defense's new "more aggressive strategy" will work in 2014 but it did give Patriots QB Ryan Mallett problems. He was sacked once and pressured numerous times while out with the 1st and 2nd stringers. Rookie Jimmy Garoppolo fared better than Mallett, but he has better mobility and was able to avoid the pressure at times.

Overall the team played well and there will be very little in the bad department for this week. Let's get to this week's GBU.

The Good

The O-line and the run game - The Redskins ran for 177 yards on 44 carries on Thursday so both the 1st and 2nd team units seem to be carrying over one of the biggest strengths during the Shanahan era.

It's already going to be tough on who's making the roster at O-line and RB and this game made it even more difficult. That's a good thing.
Lache Seastrunk, Silas Redd, Chris Thompson, Spencer Long, and Tom Compton all had notable games.

Backup WRs - This is a deep WR corp on this roster already, so it'll be hard to make the team. Ryan Grant, Aldrick Robinson and Rashad Ross all want their names to be under consideration. Robinson took advantage of filling in for injured starters Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson and showed that he can be more reliable. Grant looks like a veteran and knows how to get enough separation to get the ball thrown to him and then make a great catch. Ross looked great as a special teams return man and has some good speed to go with his size.

Backup QBs - Solid games for both Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy. Both moved the ball well and make smart decisions.

Other players who stood out: Bacarri Rambo's improved tackling, Adrian Robinson (nice forced fumble), Chase Minnifield breaking up a TD pass, the entire D-line that caved in the pocket leading to the Orakpo sack, Zack Hocker's kickoffs.

The Bad

Kai Forbath- Kicking the ball out of bounds was just terrible and missing one field goal (possibly two had there not been a penalty) put him behind Zack Hocker for the starting job. It's still early but it was clear that Forbath was not having a good day.

Penalties - It's early and the NFL is calling some major BS calls for illegal contact and pass interference (thanks Peyton Manning!!!! You get blown out in the Super Bowl and now more illegal contact enforcement - the same penalty created for you in the first place).

The Ugly

I'm not really going to talk about stats here this week because they just don't matter in this game.

I will say worth noting is that there is a standout leader on this team and it's not who may automatically come to your mind. It's Trent Williams. Anytime a play was made on the field by any unit, it was Williams that was there first to congratulate them. When Rashad Ross was thrown out of bounds by a Patriot's defender, Williams was there to get in that guy's face.

It's amazing when you look back at his and Fred Davis' careers. Both came into the league with a ton of potential. Both made mistakes by smoking too much weed and failing drug tests which led to suspensions. Williams however, cleaned up his act. He became a student of the game and worked hard to be able to take on the best. Davis, is currently not in the NFL and if he does get signed will likely be suspended for a year.

Next Monday: The Redskins head back to face the Cleveland Browns on Monday Night Football. A RGIII/Kyle Shanahan reunion sure sounds like fun!

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