Redskins Round Table : Preseason Game 1 (Strengths and Weaknesses)

LANDOVER, MD - AUGUST 12: Mike Sellers #45 of the Washington Redskins prepares to take the field before the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at FedExField on August 12, 2011 in Landover, Maryland. The Redskins are tied with the Steelers 7-7 at the half. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)

Here we are again for another installment of the Redskins Round Table.

Friday night was a good way to get the preseason off on the right foot, several things went well for the Redskins. What were you most impressed with about the game and what areas of concern do you have after seeing the Redskins play the Steelers?

Parks

I think I was most impressed with the rhythm and cohesion of the Redskins first team offense.  It all starts in the trenches and it looked like the offensive line was playing very well together: Jam Brown looked healthy; Monty looked solid a center, and the only time I remember seeing black and yellow in the backfield was on screen passes. It was amazing how the Skins were consistently getting to the line of scrimmage with 15 seconds left on the play call; there was never really any confusion.  Rex Grossman and Jabar Gaffney were also impressive to me, both looked on point and I think Gaffney is what I like to call a "professional" receiver; he'll greatly help this offense out.  

I had a couple of areas of concern after this week, most importantly our secondary.  Both DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson got beat deep early (and often in DHall's case) but the Steelers were unable to connect. Kevin Barnes starting as the nickle corner was a bright spot though, he help to assist in a sack with London Fletcher.  My other main area of concern is with Leonard Hankerson, he needs to step up now and the fan/media scrutiny will be extremely high now. Same can be said for Aldrick Robinson. Mike Shanahan may be forced to keep Brandon Banks if someone else cannot step up in the punt return game.  

Ken

I was most impressed with the way the team executed its very vanilla game plan. You don’t look for coaches to unveil much of their playbook at this time of the year, so watching Rex Grossman orchestrate those impressive drives was a sight to see. He seemed comfortable, confident and effective. Those are not the first three words I would have envisioned using for him a month ago. On defense, I was impressed with what our defensive line did. It was immediately an improvement over what we did last season. I was concerned with our deep coverage, but on at least one deep play that the Steelers should have converted on, I would hope that LaRon and O.J. would make a significant difference.

Finally, the offensive line really impressed me, but when the live bullets start flying in September, I will be eager to see if they can carry over this kind of performance.

Steve

There were a number of things that impressed me in Friday's game, but I have to say the most impressive was quarterback Rex Grossman. Grossman did well in just about every area of the game. He kept the tempo up on the offense, consistently getting the Redskins to the line with 10-15 seconds to spare. He went through his progressions quickly, and looked very comfortable even when the offensive line broke down. Grossman was also highly accurate, which kept the chains moving and the Redskins defense on the sideline. Honorable mention awards should go out to Kyle Shanahan for his play calling, all 3 running backs, the defensive line, and the offensive line.

 

My biggest area of concern after the first preseason game is the depth on defense, particularly along the line and in the secondary. Overall the Redskins defense looked good, but in the 2nd half some depth issues were prevalent. While the top four Redskins on the defensive line depth chart (Barry Cofield, Stephen Bowen, Jarvis Jenkins, and Adam Carriker) had good to great games, the 2nd unit wasn't as fortunate. Kendrick Golston made a play or two, but he was going up against essentially the Steelers fourth string unit. Other than that there weren't many notable performances, which is troubling since the Redskins will likely keep three of those guys, and they couldn't succeed against guys that will be on the practice squad of the Steelers. The secondary also was a bit of a concern as Chris Horton looked awful regardless of the competition he was going up against. Also the Redskins depth corners were very raw, meaning injuries could be a major issue for Washington (particularly early on when Buchanon is suspended). 

HTTR4LIFE

I was very impressed with the play of the offensive line and the team’s ability to showcase the offense behind it. The key ingredient to a successful team is to win the battle in the trenches and in that first preseason game, the Redskins did just that. With the line being under control it seemed like it didn’t matter which running back was inserted because whoever it was looked productive for the most part. Rex Grossman looked like a quarterback who feels comfortable and I thought that Donte Stallworth and Terrance Austin looked impressive in their route running. On the defensive side of the ball Markus White impressed me and showed he is quickly learning his new outside linebacker position and the starting defensive line looked solid as well.

Looking at what I considered was the weakest points of the team for the night, I have to talk about Leonard Hankerson and what appears to be a bit of the dropsies and horrible route running. If Hankerson is to become something in D.C. he needs to learn to run crisper routes and it appears that he has an issue with balls thrown over the middle. At first glance someone may think that the cornerback position looked weak as the Steelers had a couple of opportunities early on with the deep ball (one pass that was a for sure TD was over-thrown and the secondary was beat horrible on that play), I believe that is a direct result of the safety position being hit with injuries and players still recovering. Chris Horton looked like the weakest link on the field the entire night. Brandon Banks showed what he has on special teams; the new kickoff rule didn’t seem to affect him one bit has he ripped off a 58 yard return after taking the ball a good 8 yards deep, it’s going to be hard to cut a guy who has the "homerun" ability he has.

Kevin

What impressed me the most was the cohesion. Shanahan has brought in so many young & new guys, yet they played as if this was year three of the system. The lack of penalties was proof of that. My biggest area of concern is the safety position. It was a major problem last year, and with our two starters nursing injuries already, the drop-off in talent to our backups is scary. I'd like to see more out of Gomes, Horton, and Doughty over the next few pre-season games. The Steelers WRs had multiple instances where they beat us but luckily the QB threw a bad throw. Vick, Eli, and Romo won't make that mistake.

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