Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The GBU: Redskins/Ravens (PreSeason)

(The Pressure Was On The Ravens From The First Snap. Photo: Nick Wass/AP)
So we end the "dress rehearsal" with the Redskins finally losing a preseason game and possibly more questions about RGIII than we had in previous weeks.

There are a lot of good things I'd like to write about here but since everything is about RGIII pro or con, lets just get it out of the way right now. RGIII played like crap on Saturday. I'm not going to sugar coat it. He looked tentative when throwing from the pocket. He hesitated on multiple passes that led to at least two passes nearly being picked off. He threw one pass to a covered Alfred Morris that led to a deflection and the lone interception of the game. His first pass of the game (intercepted but overturned by a pass interference penalty) was a poor choice as DeSean Jackson was double covered. He later lobbed a pass to Jackson that was under thrown and led to a catch going out of bounds.

There were a couple of good passes to Jordan Reed and a check down to Roy Helu that were successful but one was negated on a holding penalty. The O-Line also didn't do Griffin any favors with their pass blocking (more on that below). Nor did Griffin help his team with yardage as he ran out of bounds on a few plays losing yards instead of just throwing away the ball.

The lack of performance and instincts of RGIII has led to some fans and a few tabloid sports journalists (y'know, the ones that like to create stories to get page hits) to try and say that Kirk Cousins should be starting week one. Look, I think Kirk is a good quarterback and he would be one of my top choices if I needed a QB to come off the bench or to play in a game or two. But my problem is that I just don't see Kirk Cousins as the next Kurt Warner.

Cousins had a good night in Baltimore, but he was far from perfect. The truth of the matter is that Griffin needs to be developed into a NFL quarterback and unfortunately the 2014 Redskins are going to have to deal with the growing pains that should have taken place in 2012 or 2013 seasons. Instead, the pocket passing development of Griffin was ignored for a system that worked for immediate success. Mike Shanahan and his staff  failed to address the long term needs of the franchise player for which the organization invested three 1st round picks.

That's really the sad truth. And yes, I still like the Zone Read Option but not at the cost of RGIII's development.

Anyway, the Redskins had more going on in this game than just one player. The defense looked scary (in a good way) and so did the offensive line (but not in a good way). A few players stood out and it's time to highlight their performances with this week's The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

The Good

Jason Hatcher (1 sack, 1 tackle) - It was worth the wait to see Hatcher in Burgundy and Gold. He brought a significant push up the middle. With Kerrigan, Orakpo and Murphy this unit could be a serious pass rushing force.

Ryan Kerrigan (1 sack, 2 tackles) - Another solid performance. Kerrigan has improved a great deal with the help of OLB coach Brian Baker.

Trent Murphy (1 sack, 2 tackles) - With Brian Orakpo sidelined with an ankle injury, Murphy had an opportunity to take snaps with the first team defense.

David Amerson (4 tackles, 1 pass deflection) - Amerson had a solid game this week and showed his physicality while still providing good pass coverage.

Keenan Robinson (4 tackles, 1 FF) - The more I see him play, the more impressed I am with Robinson. London Fletcher may not be as missed as I thought.

Andre Roberts (1 punt, 23 yards) - The good news is that the Redskins may have a punt returner for the 2014 season.

Jordan Reed (1 catch, 7 yards) - The stats don't look impressive for this game, but Reed was constantly open in this game. He will probably be RGIII's safety blanket all season long.

Kirk Cousins (14/20, 122 yards, 2TD) - Cousins had a much better game this week than he did against the Browns. What RGIII lacks (timing, confidence under center, comfort in the pocket) Cousins has in spades. His biggest problems are that he makes bad decisions from time to time (had a couple of passes that could have been picked off) and sometimes fails to be able to make a few deeper passes.

Santana Moss (3 catches, 27 yards, 1 TD) - Looks more like the guy on the roster a few years ago than the guy from 2013. He'll need to keep that up for the regular season.

Honorable Mentions - Jarvis Jenkins, Chris Baker, Barry Cofield, Tom Compton, Silas Redd, Niles Paul

The Bad

RGIII (5/8, 20 yards, 1 INT) - see above.

O-Line - Through three games I have not been that impressed with the O-Line in either run or pass blocking. Tyler Polumbus again gets beaten by a speed rusher. Kory Lichtenstiger had troubles handling tackles on both run and pass plays. Josh LeRibeus gets blown up later in the game. Even Trent Williams looked lousy out there and was called for a holding penalty that he could have avoided.

The run game is the Redskins mainstay and with exception of a couple of plays, there wasn't much there. This puts the quarterback into bad spots. O-line needs to step up for week one. Alfred Morris and Roy Helu only had one decent run each. They need a combined double digit number in that area if the Redskins are to be successful/

Brandon Meriweather - I know he's trying but the NFL has a hard on for helmet to helmet hits. The flags were legit and Meriweather screwed up. Now it's cost him two games in the regular season. It's a sad and painful reality but safeties will just have to hit low to avoid suspensions. If players suffer knee injuries and torn ACLs, well at least you didn't hit the player in the head.

The Ugly

 - The Redskins tested out Chris Chester out at center and moved Spencer Long to RG against the starters on Saturday. It helped show two things. First, Mike McGlynn wasn't needed to back up Kory Lichtensteiger (McGlynn was cut today). Spencer Long could be a possible starter at some point at RG if Lichtensteiger or Chester fail at their normal positions. Also, despite fans looking for the Redskins to have cap space, it won't be by cutting Chester.

- After hearing all the thoughts on Rob Jackson, I'm not that surprised he was cut by the Redskins. The team seems to be impressed by Gabe Miller and Everette Brown.I have been as well.

- I still think we haven't seen very much of what the Redskins plan on doing on offense in 2014. No gimmicks no scheme and very little game plan so far. Does this help RGIII? Who knows. But one thing is for sure, the Redskins have to get better if not they're not going to win week one.

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