For those of you who cannot catch the game, you can listen to it here for free! Thank Dan Snyder and let the Redskins organization how much you appreciate the free stream here. Pregame coverage begins at 4 PM Eastern, so tune in.
Even if I'm not, the Redskins are still looking for their first win of the preseason while visiting the New England Patriots. As I have throughout the preseason, I would caution readers from getting too worked up over the results of this game. They don't matter. What matters is preformance, which is what the coaches use the preseason to evaluate. In so far as we've been unable to execute relatively simple plays the last two preseason games, they matter. In so far as the game ended with the Redskins on the losing end of the score -- it could not matter less.
What I'd like to see from the Washington Redskins today:
1. Consistent play from the offensive line as well as someone (anyone!) really stepping up on the 2nd string. One of the strengths this preseason has been strong pass protection, but we haven't been able to get much push for our running backs. Even against the New York Jets B Team, who had one of the worst run stopping units in the league last year, the first team could not push the ball effectively on the ground. The Pats are very strong against the run and will not give us any any easy yards.
From the backups I want to see two or three guys step up and play consistently. All we need are a few guys who can prove themselves coachable backups should the unthinkable happen and one of our starting linemen goes down for a few weeks. We've got an excellent starting unit; if they can all stay healthy for 16 games.
2. Brunell needs to score a touchdown or lead a drive that results in a touchdown. He has yet to do so this preseason. Saunders isn't going to open up his playbook in the preseason, so Brunell is going to have to win it with execution and a little help from his starting squad. No interceptions would be great.
Todd Collins will get the backup spot and takes reps with the second squad. He had a much better game last week than he did in week 1, though he will face better players on a better defensive team today.
The real story is Jason Campbell, who should get a decent amount of playing time. Unfortunately he'll be out there with the 3rd string, so it's difficult to evaluate how well he is playing since it might have more to do with the competition. What I want to see is the poise in the pocket he's had all preseason; there have been no jitters. The picks he's thrown have been thrown calmly (though he needs to stop throwing those as well).
3. Ladell Betts must step it up. He is now playing for position on this depth chart and nothing would please me more than for him to have a huge game. Competition drives preformance and the pickup of Duckett needs to light a fire under this guy. Running into the back of his own offensive linemen will not impress. He's got to find the holes better and make one quick cut if his line doesn't get the push he needs. He can't just try and piggy back them as he did vs. New York B Team.
Duckett is still new in the offense, so I don't expect him to get more than a few carries (though if he does, let that be an indication of how much the team plans to use him in the regular season). If Brunell can get the team to the redzone, I would really love to see Duckett (6'0 254 pounds) chase Fullback monster Mike Sellers 6'3 260) into the endzone. More importantly I'd like to see whichever hapless stooge try and stop them. It will all end in tears.
4. I have confidence in our d-line, safeties, and linebackers, but with Shawn Springs out 3-6 weeks someone will have to step up in coverage. Carlos Rogers will be the starter backed up by either Kenny Wright, Julian Battle, Mike Rumpf, or Ade Jimoh. If one or more of them can prove reliable in coverage then we can easily survive the first bit of the season without Springs (not to mention we'd have an excellent nickelback for when he does return). The main thing is no big plays. Nothing should break for 30 or more yards. Kenny Wright was burned in week one (but redeemed himself in week two). The entire defense was burned on a 61 yard reverse which Gregg Williams called before the snap. That's frustrating.
Other then that, expect the first team to get more PT than the previous two preseason games. They might finish out an entire half or, at the very least, will get a drive or two into the 2nd quarter. Todd Collins and Campbell should split the rest of the game.
Remember that it's just pretend football. That said, if the Redskins win please feel free to predict world domination and pending Superbowl wins for the next 17 season because of our awesome preformance.