Friday, August 13, 2010

Redskins-Bills preseason notes

I'd say that went well. 

It was a first preseason game against a very poor opponent who played a pretty bad game.  We all know not to get overly excited about a lopsided win here, but it's okay to enjoy it a little.  When's the last time the Redskins were convincingly the better team on the field?

Although it would be crazy to draw conclusions after one preseason game, I think there was a fair amount to learn from finally seeing the Redskins in game action (sort of).  Below are my notes from the game, with sections for offense, defense, and special teams.


From the very beginning of the game, whenever the starting offense went to three wide receivers Santana Moss moved to the slot and Anthony Armstrong came in at flanker. I hadn’t realized that Armstrong was being looked at within the top three receivers, but he is clearly being taken very seriously.

Speaking of Armstrong, he had a nice heads-up block on Ryan Torain’s 22 yard reception in the second quarter. He came back downfield to pick off the defender who was still trailing Torain.

Ryan Torain’s first carry demonstrated some of the traits that are getting people excited about him. The left defensive end got around right guard Artis Hicks’ outside shoulder and into the backfield, and Sellers failed to pick the guy up and went straight downfield looking for linebackers. But Torain had the strength to shed the tackle while taking his run farther to the outside than originally designed, then he put on a HARD cut to get back inside a defensive back who came zooming in hoping to do the clean-up.  After this run however, I thought Torain just looked okay.

John Keim has been raving about Trent Williams’ strong base and it was on display in his solid pass protection today.

The Keiland Williams touchdown in the second quarter: Kory Lichtensteiger (at center) and Artis Hicks (at right guard) double the left defensive end, then Lichtensteiger sheds off him and takes out the inside linebacker, thus securing the touchdown. Classic zone blocking.

That wasn’t the only play I liked by Lichtensteiger. He was mauling people all night in the running game. As you know I am eager to find a long term replacement for Casey Rabach. Unlike Rabach, Lichtensteiger more than held his own against some defensive tackles. He also showed the ability to make it to the outside to block on a screen pass (have I mentioned I like screen passes?). It is way, way too soon to be making any pronouncements, but what I saw from Lichtensteiger tonight was encouraging.

I saw some solid run blocking from tight end Logan Paulsen, but I think Lee Vickers was given more snaps. I also saw Vickers do a good job of sealing off the corner a couple of times.

Dennis Morris must have shown absolutely nothing in camp so far, because after Sellers came out I believe Darrel Young got all of the snaps at fullback. Young did a decent job too.

William Robinson just lacked the footwork to stand a chance against Bills defensive end Aaron Maybin.

At no point did I notice a fullback line up at tight end or motion there, so there is not fungibility between those positions. This means a third tight end is probably going to make the team.


I was not impressed by the linebackers. They appeared vulnerable to misdirection - the outside ‘backers in particular over-pursued and left big cutback lanes open for opposing running backs. And gaping holes were left in the short zones, so I’m worried that pass coverage will be an issue.

I don’t want to take anything away from DeAngelo Hall, but that interception was sort of given to him by Trent Edwards, who first held the ball too long while under pressure, and then stared down Lee Evans so that the whole stadium new who the throw was going to.

H.B. Blades and Perry Riley look fairly well ensconced as the backup inside linebackers.

It appears that the Redskins’ base nickel package includes only two linemen with their hands on the ground. This is, to put it mildly, unconventional. I could see doing this on occasion, but I don’t recall ever seeing the Redskins go to nickel without this alignment. Huh.


I’m feeling pretty good about the field position game.

Graham Gano’s kickoffs came down at the 1 yard line, 7 yards deep in the end zone, the 4 yard line, 8 deep, 1 deep, 2 deep, and 6 yard line. If he can keep up that consistency then we have ourselves a very valuable kicker.

According to my stopwatch, Josh Bidwell’s punts had hang times of 4.4 seconds, 5.0 seconds, 4.55 seconds, and 4.6 seconds.

Rather than rotating a bunch of guys through punt returns, it was clear that the coaches are taking a serious look at Brandon Banks. And we saw why. He not only has raw speed but also very good instincts for returning and sets up his blocks.

Only problem is that despite the fact that Banks got some second half snaps as a wide receiver, I still have a hard time believing he could be used on offense. And I think it would be very difficult to find a spot on the 53 man roster for someone who can only contribute as a returner.

I liked Terrence Austin’s punt returns too, even though he was solid rather than exciting. He doesn’t have nearly Banks’ speed, but appears to have good vision for the return game.

One more punt return note – Devin Thomas deserves credit for the key block that gave Banks the corner on the touchdown.

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