After two preseason games, the Redskins look primed to answer some of the questions they came into the year with, although some new and potentially unanswered ones have arisen too.
The questions circling the receiving corps are feeling better with the promising display last week against the Green Bay Packers in their second preseason game. The first game of the preseason did little to answer any questions, and worse yet it robbed the team of one of their best pass rushers for the season.
Looking back on the first half of the preseason, let’s review the good, the bad and the ugly notes from the Redskins so far.
In the second preseason game, one that most analysts and coaches would agree is far more important for predicting the season’s successes, the offense had its moments. This was highlighted in the 2nd quarter touchdown pass from Kirk Cousins to Jamison Crowder.
It’s good to see Crowder, a huge question mark coming into the year, step up and show some of his promise. If the Redskins are going to make a run at the division and get into the playoffs, they’ll need Crowder to help make up for the loss of over 2,000 receiving yards with the departure of Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson.
Samaje Perine was by far the most exciting player on the field when he got to touch the ball, and that could be an answer this offense didn’t even know they needed. What impressed most was his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. Even though it only flashed for one catch, Perine was able to take that short route and turn it into an electrifying 29-yard gain. Every time Perine touched the ball, the hair on my arms stood up and I was expecting him to break it for a long gain. That’s the kind of weapon that the Redskins needed, and there wasn’t much of a question for the running backs coming into camp.
Seeing Niles Paul make an athletic touchdown grab on a pass from Colt McCoy in the 3rd quarter reminded me just how deep the tight ends are for this team. Paul continued to flash his athleticism, and the news of Jordan Reed being activated this week should be a boost to the offense, and to every HTTR Nation heart.
Jonathan Allen got his first NFL sack in game one, and showed that his presence may be extremely appreciated, especially so after the news that Trent Murphy will miss the season after suffering an ACL injury in the same game. Allen needs to be able to anchor the line and produce opposite of Ryan Kerrigan, and his performance will be crucial to the success of the defense. Seeing him show flashes this early is a very promising sign.
Sacks in general are a positive for the defense this offseason so far, as the team has more than double their opponents with 9 between their two games.
Maybe the best news of the preseason so far for the Redskins is the news from the NFL that Ezekiel Elliot will be suspended for the first six games of the Cowboys’ season. Unfortunately, his first game back will be against the Redskins at FedEx Field, but without him the Cowboys could foreseeably drop at least 2-3 of their first six games. That may be enough to decide the decision this year in what looks to be an extremely close race between all four NFC East teams.
Murphy’s injury leaves a huge hole for the Redskins, and means that the defense will be searching for ways to make up for his loss in the pass rush. Luckily, the Redskins may have drafted a solid option in the second round with Ryan Anderson, but so far he has yet to shine in the preseason. Another potential answer could be a “healthy” Junior Gallete, who may see some more action in the third game after injuring his hamstring this offseason. Gallete hasn’t seen significant time since the 2014 season due to serious injuries, but he did register 22 combined sacks in 2013-2014.
The offense has managed only two touchdowns so far, and zero rushing touchdowns. Also, with less than half as much rushing yards, 103, as they’ve allowed, 242, the time of possession is almost a whole quarter behind their opponents so far. The offense needs to be more balanced, and the running game is averaging a paltry 2.6 yards per carry so far. That’s not going to help win many games.
Terrelle Pryor has yet to make a real impact on the game, and has just one catch for 11 yards so far. He needs to be the true number one receiver for this team, and he’s the one most people are counting on to pick up at least a 1,000 yard season. It would be nice to see him break a game open with a deep catch, or show some of his promise in the red zone in the third game.
Josh Doctson is hurt again. Last season Doctson had a tough time staying on the field and showing his top-flight speed. This has to be concerning for him, and this offense. It’s just a hamstring so far, and the coaches are admittedly playing it safe, but it would be nice to see his name not listed on the injury report for once.
Rob Kelley is averaging .9 yards per attempt. No that’s not a typo; he is averaging less than a yard per rushing attempt. This offensive line was rated in the top 5 last season, due in large part to the success that Kelley found. Luckily Perine is looking like he may open things up for Kelley, and take some of the pressure off of him, because so far Kelley looks like he needs it.
The starting offense played two series in the first game. They got zero first downs. The entire team struggled in an ugly game against Baltimore, but this is a team that will either be carried by a Cousins led offense, or will struggle to win games this season. Luckily Cousins quickly admitted to the struggles after the game, and is taking it as a wakeup call. They responded well in game two, and showed a little of that offensive momentum they need to get rolling going into the season.
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