Well, that didn’t go as smoothly as any of us were hoping, but something about the preseason matchup between the Redskins and Ravens last night makes it all seem...meaningless. (Maybe because, despite the fancy wrapping paper that goes with televising anything, it was a meaningless practice.) To be completely fair, even when the Redskins have looked good in the preseason, you have not seen me read anything more into it than those places where potential starters won their one-on-one battles.
I bet we are all waking up this morning to text messages from some of our friends blasting the atrociousness of last night’s affair. Maybe you have a buddy who runs a rooftop bar that believes the preseason is worse than watching grass grow and he wants to remind you that you enjoy the mind-numbing beauty of the NFL’s August schedule. I ask you to refrain from lashing out at such salty individuals. After all, we are all kind of right here (even if we aren’t all salty).
Allen Iverson would suggest we are just talking about “Praaaaaaactice.” Embracing the fact that you are trading your summer night for a stint in front of the TV to watch a bunch of grown men play a game they almost certainly won’t be around to play in the fall (because that is who plays in these early games for the most part) is somewhat liberating. If you show up to one of these things ready to treat it like a regular season game, you are going to be let down in a major way.
The NFL desperately wants fans to think these games mean something. They charge fans FULL PRICE to watch a penalty-ridden scrimmage played by guys that will be fighting for the right to join practice squads. Should you fall into their trap, you will wake up the next day feeling pretty bad.
As for the actual “game,” there was plenty to see and react to, most notably the failure of the Redskins offensive line to give our offense a chance to execute plays for most of the evening. I feel like the Baltimore defensive line knew the snap count and our guys didn’t on quite a few plays, and it made for a rather small pocket throughout the night. Let’s give their defensive line some credit, but Washington’s starting five offensive linemen has not melded into a cohesive unit just quite yet. Since it is only August 11th, I will suggest that there is time for this to change.
More than any one performance, I was disappointed by the failure of Kirk Cousins to hook up with Terrelle Pryor on that first play. The ball was thrown a little poorly to a receiver that was running wide open. If you go back and watch that play, you can see how the Redskins can expect to score on it this season if the quarterback and receiver are in sync. Pryor is a monster with freakish speed and once he has the ball in open space in the secondary, he is going to be making his way to the end zone. That might not have been the case last night, but it needed to at least be a completion. I got over it, but I couldn’t shake the whole “I bet they practiced that play over and over with great success and then executed it poorly inside the whistles” feeling.
The Redskins need to execute inside the whistles.
Something I was generally excited about watching last night was our defensive front. Phil Taylor looked good, which helped make our linebackers make some plays. More than anything else, I was impressed with the size of our linebackers. If these guys can couple up some skill and technique with their athletic ability, I think we will have something. I noted early in the game when Zach Brown got to the sideline to make a play on a running back for no gain (maybe a yard). To me, that is something we need to see this year if we are going to get off the field. Credit the defensive line for keeping the linebacker clean on that play, and credit the pursuit of a speedy linebacker for getting to the ball.
I think everyone loved what they saw from Nico Marley. I know I did. As that discussion is already going full steam, I thought I would mention another player that looked pretty good in my opinion. Chris Carter, to me, looked like he was winning his battles most of the evening. I thought his play was responsible for other guys making plays. It remains to be seen how many of these monsters (the team is LOADED in terms of big-bodied linebackers). Lynden Trail, Chris Carter, Josh Harvey-Clemons...it would be hard to imagine one of these guys not being picked up by someone else if and when the Redskins cut them. (Perhaps the rookie Harvey-Clemons needs some more seasoning.)
All in all, I am a happy camper because of one thing: the journey to the playoffs doesn’t begin until we can all wax poetic on a glorified, televised practice. That box is checked!