My mama always said preseason was like a box of chocolates - you never know what you're gonna get. This rings especially true this week for fans who turned up to FedEx Field to find a number of game-time healthy scratches from the starting line-up. Count me in as wholeheartedly agreeing with the coaching staff’s decision to sit the likes of Kirk Cousins, DeSean Jackson, Trent Williams, and Jordan Reed, not only to preserve them for games where the final outcome actually matters, but to give us an opportunity to properly evaluate the hype-worthiness of some of our Mason/ Brennan Nominees.
We’re stretched a little thin over the last week or so in the hype department, which other than for editorial purposes,may not be that bad a thing. The idea that there were Redskins starters in past years that may not have been worthy of a roster spot this season is an exciting proposition. Nevertheless, we continue to commemorate and celebrate two of the best and brightest preseason hall of famers (this should definitely be a thing), Marcus Mason and Colt Brennan.
The Mason/Brennan award is presented each week of the preseason to the player who receives the most hype, as voted upon by you, the fans. This week's vote will cover week 3 of the preseason in preparation for the Redskins upcoming contest against the Buffalo Bills.
1. Player must have been drafted late (let's say after the third round) or signed by the Redskins as an undrafted free agent. Players who have only been on other teams practice squads before being signed by the team are also eligible.
2. A player who has been on the team for several years is still eligible if most of that time has been spent on the practice squad, inactive, or with very limited playing time.
3. The Pat White Rule: High draft picks (busts/out of the league) from other teams who have never completed an NFL pass, but can run the read option/wildcat are eligible. The list of nominees are subject to change week-to-week in order to account for roster moves, and players whose stock rises or falls with the Hype Market based on their performance on the field or in the comment section.
Read up, place your vote for who is most deserving of the hype, and, as we head into preseason matchup number three, feel free to write-in any player that you think is worthy of being nominated.
Our candidates for the Mason/Brennan Award this week are:
Austin Reiter, C - The conversation last week around Reiter shifted from whether or not he’s being snubbed for a potential starting role, but more towards whether he can be a depth player on this team for the future. The strategy to take things slow with the starters means that players like Reiter are quickly being cast out of the frying pan and into the fire. He played the third most snaps of any offensive lineman (38) against the Jets, which serves as an indication that the coaching staff is trying to evaluate if he is capable of earning a roster spot. There is no denying that getting a lot of reps will be valuable for him to have on film if he gets the opportunity to play down the road.
But the conversation has shifted with the addition of Bryan Stork from the Patriots in exchange for a conditional seventh-round draft pick. Though the move is likely less a direct indictment of Reiter's potential, but rather is an indicator that the front office is concerned about the overall state of all the centers on the roster. Even if the trade is meant to send a message to the guys at the top of the depth chart, it’s probably not a great signal to the current Redskins centers, including Reiter, about their job security heading towards the end of the preseason.
Nate Sudfeld, QB - With Captain Kirk earning a game-time healthy scratch, Sudfeld played 49% of the offensive snaps, splitting time with Colt "Not Colt Brennan" McCoy. Following a strong preseason week 1 performance, Sudfeld came back down to earth (10/20, 77 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT) against the Jets. He definitely tried to force a few throws down the field that would have been better served as check-down passes to underneath receivers, but his hype level stays steady after a strong finish. He orchestrated an 11-play, 84-yard scoring drive to win the game in the 4th quarter over the Jets, and earned the title of "Best Sudfeld Hair - 2016" over his brother Zach.
Robert Kelley, RB - After a largely healthy preseason (albeit with one notable high round draft pick exception), the injury bug has bitten the Redskins. Anticipated starting running back Matt Jones went down with a sprained AC Joint and could miss the rest of the preseason. Jones’ injury is enough to keep Kelley in the hype orbit, even though he was profoundly underwhelming on the stat sheet (3 rushes, 8 yards) against the Jets.
Outside of his carries, Kelley did make an impression in pass protection, picking up a huge block on a blitzing Bruce Carter in the second quarter, allowing Colt McCoy to complete a 16-yard pass to Rashad Ross for a first down. For Kelley to be labeled by some as the "starter by default" (put me on record as disagreeing with that sentiment) after a game like this, how can you not throw him some M/B love?
Lynden Trail, OLB - Compared to his first outing, Trail had a quiet day. Though he registered just one assisted tackle. However, he continues to garner self-driving car levels of hype; I've seen more than a handful of fans fans are calling for the team to trade or release a variety of names ahead of him on the depth chart in order for him to earn a significant role on this year's squad. As the saying goes, you can’t teach size, and Trail’s physique (6’7", 270 lbs.) has him in some elite company for his measurables.
Maurice Harris, WR - Despite having just one catch for 19 yards, Harris passed the eye test against the Jets. He had a big gainer called back on the penalty call in the end zone that resulted in a safety which affected his final stat line. Harris did an excellent job of forcing the Jets defense to shade a second man towards his side all while being matched up on their top cornerbacks (yes, second and third string still counts.) Halfway through the Redskins preseason contests Harris makes the most of the reps afforded to him, and is still very much in the running for a spot on the team.
Keith Marshall, RB - Jones’ injury opens the door back up for Marshall (although there are a handful of capable and available free agent tailbacks seeking an opportunity to play still.) Marshall led the team with 10 carries against the Jets, averaging 2.6 yards a pop. This week, all eyes will be on the running backs to see if there is any sign of how the coaches see the depth chart filling out in the backfield with the regular season slate looming in the not too distant future.
Martrell Spaight, ILB - From where I sit, Spaight is the only one on this list who looked worthy of hype afforded to him thus far after his performance against the Jets. He forced a fumble and had two bone-rattling tackles, all while looking fundamentally sound and mistake free. Last week Spaight took home the Mason/ Brennan crown (or was it supposed to be a signed football?) This week House Martrell hype remains unbowed, unbent, unbroken.
Kendal Thompson, WR - Okay, so I suppose we can assume Kendal took his Mason/Brennan demotion personally last week and came back with this:
He was on the field for over 30% of the Redskins offensive plays, and also converted on an athletic two-point conversion following his TD grab, all of which is buzz-worthy enough to get back in the Mason/Brennan conversation.
Out of the running (for this week at least):
Mack Brown, RB - This has less to do with his actual production (which, to be fair, hasn’t been anything particularly special) and more to do with the fact that he only picked up 2% of the vote last week, and seems to be third in a three-horse race for hype supremacy at tailback.
Cast your vote for who is most hype-worthy and let us know why in the comments below!