After a rough and expensive Friday night, I decided to take it easy Saturday night and re-watch the Steelers at Redskins game (along with GB at CLE and SF at New Orleans). As expected with pre-sesaon games, there was good and bad. Instead of just dumping my notes, I thought I'd give out Shanny Awards to key categories. Whichever Redskin accumulates the most Shannys by the end of the season wins a Ken Meringolo autographed toilet seat.
Brandon Banks has a je ne c'est quoi. His kick returning skills have reached the fluidity and ease that Dante Hall once had. Whenever Banks fields a kick, he's able to stay patiently smooth and find that lane where normal returners are diving forward for an extra yard after being surrounded by opponents. Graham Gano had a solid game 3-3 on kicks. Did you see Darrel Young's fantastic Special Teams' block pn Banks' 20-yard punt return? As for Aldrick Robinson muffing two punts, let's remember that Brandon Banks muffed 3 kicks during the 2010 pre-season.
BEST TECHNIQUE: Barry Cofield (other nominees: Gano, Moss)
Nose Tackles usually are considered to be big, fat guys that simply clog the middle, which is why Redskins fans have been bearish on how a 300 pound Cofield can handle Nose. Cofield was consistently in the Steelers backfield using a side-step swim technique that worked over and over and over. On one third and short, Cofield swam right by the Center and made the stop. The former Giant is a smart player and it's showing. Stephen Bowen registered a sack from the NT position on a great technique move too. Santana Moss gets an honorable mention because his 5-star route running significantly makes Rex Grossman's job easier.
Of all my game notes, Markus White's name is consistently in them. The former FSU Linebacker has that speed and "get around the corner" agility that reminds me of Clay Matthews. Erik Cook had a solid game until they moved him to Guard for a few plays. Evan Royster ran consistently well and even had a nice block on a blitz pickup. I didn't think it was possible but somehow the Redskinettes got hotter. Maybe the clothing got skimpier? I don't know but they were in mid-season form.
Shayne Graham deserves this award, but I really don't like wasting time talking about kickers. I counted multiple plays where Capers was on his butt standing too tall on snap. Will Montgomery overall had a good game, but once he ended up on his rear and got pushed around at times. Kellen Clemens was 9/17 with a 71 QB rating. It seemed worse than that to me. We should give him the benefit of the doubt since he's only been with the team for basically a week.
GAME MVP: Rex Grossman (other nominees; Santana Moss)
He was flawless in his first game and silenced critics. I watched a replay of the Saints pre-season game tonight and the announcers said the Redskins are worse than the Panthers since they have no idea who their QB is. It's safe to say Beck has the same odds as winning the starting job does as I do convincing a Redskinette to go out with me.
Did you notice how ALL of the Redskins Running Backs did well? It looks like Shanny has his Denver system finally clicking in D.C. Hankerson continues to drop balls in the middle field. When I was at training camp, I noticed this as well. Is he scared to go across the middle? The Redskins had 0 sacks, 0 penalties, and 25 first downs with ten minutes left to go in the game. Amazing.
The 3-4 defense was finally working as designed. The LBs were consistently hitting the line of scrimmage with no blockers in sight. Compare that to last year where Guards were consistently five yards up field running right at London or whoever was there.
The misdirection screens are a thing of beauty. They freeze the pass rush and just make the offense much more fluid.