Saturday, August 13, 2011

Notes on the Redskins first preseason game

Here are some notes from last night's preseason game. I certainly do not do preseason in the same depth as the regular season play by play breakdowns, so this is just a listing of stuff that caught my eye and is not necessarily comprehensive. Feel free to add any of your own observations in the comments.

All the usual caveats about this being just the first preseason game are in force, but I know you already know that.

This was somewhat stream of consciousness, so to impose some sort of organization I split it into separate sections for offense, defense, and special teams.


Of course I was pleased with how Rex Grossman handled the offense. However, we already knew that Rex knows how to move this offense when unmolested. The one play where Royster picked up the blitz but Grossman panicked and threw while falling to the ground despite a lack of pressure... that shows why we shouldn't get too excited. I was encouraged, but we should expect his complete lack of composure to show up more often once he's facing a defense that has actually bothered to gameplan against him. Not trying to be a downer - I was happy with his performance.

In the two wide receiver sets Santana is the split end and Gaffney is the flanker.  It's not the biggest deal in the world, but the flanker is the guy who is easiest to put in motion to exploit mismatches, so I would think Santana is more suited for that role.

Like last year, Santana moves in to the slot for the 3 WR sets. This is where he is at his best. Armstrong goes in at split end, leaving Gaffney at flanker which seems to be his job.

Hightower does a nice job turning the corner even when his blockers haven't done a great job of sealing it off for him.

By my count Hightower missed at least two blitzes that he was probably supposed to pick up.

Keiland Williams sure appears to be an afterthought. This bothers me. This is no way meant to belittle Darrell Young, who shows some potential.

On the first running play Will Montgomery got driven into the backfield and put on his back. In fact he spent a fair amount of time being driven back, which is not at all surprising but shows that any upgrade he represents at center will be incremental. Granted, he was playing against Casey Hampton.

The line sold the playfake well repeatedly, nicely setting up the Shanahans' beloved bootlegs.

Trent Williams badly whiffed on his block on the last play of the 1st quarter, allowing Hightower to get stuffed.

At 12:03 in the 2nd quarter Fred Davis drops the ball after contact on a post route. Granted Davis and both Steelers that hit him were slow getting up, so clearly it was a violent play. But he had both hands on it and making tough downfield catches like that in traffic is exactly what he's here to do.

I really like the way Terrence Austin runs his routes. It's a shame I can't find a way for him to fit on the depth chart.

On the play prior to the touchdown Grossman tried to force a ball that probably should have been intercepted by Larry Foote. I don't think he even saw the linebacker pinching off his passing lane.

Looks like Trent Williams is still not great at locking onto defenders at the second level.


Chris Horton blew multiple coverages and badly missed a tackle on the Steelers' one touchdown. I just can't see him making the roster unless the injuries to LaRon Landry and Kareem Moore persist.

Speaking of which, as we all saw the secondary let a number of receivers get open down field and lucked out due to Pittsburgh overthrows. Like I wrote the other day, between the scheme and the type of players this team has the secondary is going to be highly volatile. The quality of this defense - which could very good or very bad - will be determined by the pass rush.

As expected, Stephen Bowen and Adam Carriker got the start. On the second defensive drive Jarvis Jenkins replaced Carriker at left end; on the third drive he replaced Bowen on the right. So it appears we should expect him to get significant rotational time at both positions.

On the Steelers second drive, Orakpo does a good job of staying at home on backside contain, but once the ballcarrier commits closes and takes him down.

On the following play Ryan Kerrigan badly overreacts to the RB's first step and gets trapped inside, thus giving up the corner on a routine counter play.

The base nickel alignment seems to consist of Bowen and Jenkins as the two DLs. Makes sense as both Cofield and Carriker are better as block-eaters than penetrators.

Bowen did show nice quickness on his sack at 2:07 in the 1st quarter, but in fairness both the center and running back got confused and blew their assignments (i.e. block Bowen).

At 10:26 in the second quarter Ryan Kerrigan and Barry Cofield stuff a run for a loss. Kerrigan does a nice job shooting inside the tight end to penetrate. Meanwhile Cofield slams the center to the ground.

On a couple running place Kerrigan let himself get too far upfield and gave up his inside gap responsibility.

Looking at Graham Gano's predictably powerful kickoffs (out the back of the end zone, and two even through the uprights), I don't understand why people keep bringing up the new kickoff rule. From five yards farther way those still  would have been deep into or out of the end zone.

Brandon Banks is back. After his injury it wasn't just his speed that left him - his mature approach to returning regressed as well and he started looking like Antwan Randle-El but with more talent. But now that he's comfortable again he has cut out the hesitance and "dancing." When he's on his game, he is the perfect combination of patience and decisiveness. Honestly, I like that even more than his speed (which is also great, of course). Unless he starts fumbling again, I think he needs to be on this roster.

Sav Rocca dropped his first punt on the one yard line, and it bounced high in the air begging for a Redskin to knock it back out of the end zone. The gunners were Terrence Austin and Byron Wesbrook. Austin got clear of his man and would have downed it but the ref got in his way, so he's excused. But Westbrook failed to get sufficient separation. Seeing as how he's fighting for probably the last cornerback spot on the roster, he needs to make that sort of special teams play. In fairness, on the second punt he came free and forced a fair catch.


  1. Good post and you make some very valid points about things. The secondary getting burned twice early but getting lucky is what bothers me the most b/c they won't keep getting those lucky breaks during the season.

    Also I'm not sold on Rex Grossman yet. His decision making has always been the deal killer for me and I'm hoping for a miracle breakthrough for him, but need to see more.

  2. It's really sad that I'm so pumped that the Redskins didn't stink it up last night.

    It seemed that when 1st string or 1st/2nd string Pittsburgh defense really wanted to stop them, they did, forcing field goal tries.

  3. I'm with BeltwayBoy, not sold on Rex. But you can tell he knows this offense. Like always though, it's going to depend on the O-Line. Montgomery is an upgrade over Raybach but it's not saying much.