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Illegal Notion: Redskins preseason Game 3 Review

Burgundy and Gold or Maroon and Black?

NFL: Preseason-Washington Redskins at Atlanta Falcons Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

After reviewing the tape of the Redskins’ third preseason game, here are my biggest takeaways:

Burgundy and Gold

The good (yay team colors!)

Derrius Guice

The biggest question (in my mind) this offseason was the recovery of Derrius Guice. Many people have had all eyes on the quarterback battle, but I’ve expected that Keenum or McCoy would get the nod from the jump, allowing the vet QBs to take the body-blows and fan/media scrutiny that will come with the first few weeks of what will likely be a rough season.

Guice, however, was a complete wildcard after his infection and subsequent surgeries. He tore his ACL over a year ago and he isn’t yet ready? Yikes.

Well…last night squashed those fears. Guice is both patient and angry on each and every run. He overran his blockers on one occasion last night, and if he had let Brandon Scherff reach the outside first, it might’ve been a house-call. Other than that one run, Guice ran behind his blocks and looked to punish every defender. I love that.

Landon Collins

Collins said after the game, “This is Spags’ defense,” referring to the years he was an All-Pro under then-Giants DC Steve Spagnuolo. Collins looks incredibly comfortable in his ‘robber’ role, playing about 10 yards deep and roaming the deep center of the box.

This sort of read-and-react role is what he excelled at in New York, and he has shown that he can diagnose screens, take excellent angles in the run game, and cover underneath routes run by receivers, tight ends, and running backs alike.

I expect Collins to get his hands on quite a lot of turnovers this year, and when he can’t hang on, pass breakups over the middle are something this team has sorely lacked over the past few years.

Dwayne Haskins

Haskins continues to impress me. He isn’t a world-beater, but he doesn’t have to be; and he isn’t trying too hard to be. What might be most impressive about the young man is his self-awareness and poise. The game isn’t too big for him. He looks like he belongs, but at the same time he doesn’t think too highly of himself and is willing to work and study diligently.

This off-field work has really shown from the first game to the second and the second to the third, improving in meaningful and observable ways in both games. If the organization truly stays patient, I expect Haskins to start in Burgundy and Gold for quite some time.

Cam Sims

I have to put Sims here. For those of you that have paid attention, I have not been super high on Cam Sims. He had a decent preseason last year. Yes. Decent. I know many of you think he was headed to the Hall of Fame, but let’s not forget the drops, one of which ended up in a red-zone interception.

All that said, he hasn’t done hardly anything this preseason. That changed against Atlanta, as Sims had 3 big catches for 48 yards. I still think Sims is on the bubble, and if Doctson isn’t cut or traded I wouldn’t be surprised if he was the odd man out, but he helped himself last night.

Robert Davis

Robert Davis has been my boy this offseason. I attended six training camp practices, and no receiver, or perhaps player, stood out to me more than Davis. He is relishing this opportunity after his brutal injury last offseason (similar to Teddy Bridgewater’s gruesome injury) and a lengthy, arduous rehab. He looked thankful for every rep both on offense and special teams, and it showed.

He has been the most productive receiver on the team this preseason and he is arguably the team’s best special teamer (no, the fumble recovery was not simply right place, right time). That matters. On top of all of that, Davis was a Gruden draft pick. That matters too. Davis makes this team.

Cassanova McKinzy

McKinzy’s stepbrother died earlier this week, but he didn’t tell a soul in the organization until after the game on Thursday. He didn’t want to have distractions and he wanted to do his job. Well, he did, and he has this preseason. Against both Cleveland and Cincy, McKinzy was chipped on each dropback as he was giving the opposing team’s tackles too much to handle.

Last night, he finished with two sacks and a forced fumble. McKinzy will be part of the third-down EDGE rotation this year, and I think he will start to take snaps from Ryan Anderson sooner rather than later.

Maroon and Black

The bad (thanks, Jim Zorn)

Ereck Flowers

Asked about Flowers’ performance, Jay immediately pointed to Flowers whiffing on a block (causing a Keenum throw away), and a “hold on the one-foot line.” Flowers looks decent when he blocks in a phone booth, but if he doesn’t have his assignment aligned directly across from him, he a) struggles with identifying his assignment, and b) has his hands too wide and bends at the waist far too often. Wes Martin needs to start at LG as soon as possible.

Keanu Neal

Jordan Reed is finally healthy, it’s preseason, and you decide to take that shot on him? For real?? It was late, it was dirty, and it was despicable. Now Jordan Reed is in concussion protocol, and if he does, in fact, have a concussion, it would be the seventh (recorded) concussion he has suffered between college and professional football. Just awful.

NFL: Preseason-Washington Redskins at Atlanta Falcons
Jordan Reed (86) takes a brutal helmet-to-helmet hit from Keanu Neal (22) in the first quarter
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Front four

I know the schemes are vanilla and there’s no game-planning involved, but this vaunted front four has produced almost zero pressure in their two plus quarters of action this preseason. If these guys are supposed to be dominant studs, shouldn’t they be getting pressure just because of their individual athletic prowess, regardless of scheme? I would’ve liked to see more of a push from this group, and I know fans agree; watching opposing QBs relax in the pocket is getting old.

Playing 12-yards off on 3rd and short

Seriously? Is this still happening? Again, I realize the team isn’t game-planning, but three first downs were converted last night (and 5 last week by my count) because a defensive back played 8-12 yards off the receiver on 3rd and less than 5. THAT. DOESN’T. MAKE. SENSE. If I have to watch that inexplicable tactic in the secondary this year, I will likely lose my mind.

Preseason 23-yard field goals

So…Dwayne Haskins gets down to the four yard line, misses on an out-route for an easy TD on third down…and you kick a 23-yard field goal!? Come on! Jay Gruden’s gotta give the kid a shot. For the experience, for the confidence, etc. It’s preseason! Let the kid get a bucket on fourth and goal!

…and Yellow

The in-between

Jimmy Moreland

The obvious fan favorite of the summer, Moreland is on this list because he’s been both good and bad. The good? His quickness to diagnose and his willingness to hit. At his size and against the lower-level of competition he faced in college, one of the worries was Moreland’s ability to both read the play and tackle effectively. He does both extremely well, and reminds me of Kendall Fuller in this way.

Also similar to Kendall Fuller (as a rookie), Moreland has been picked on consistently. He has given up a team-leading 11 receptions in the preseason and has been turned around on multiple occasions, including the reception that moved Atlanta inside the 5 for the opponent’s lone touchdown. I see good things in the future for The People’s Corner, but fans need to slow their roll a bit.

Montae Nicholson

After being down on him most of the summer, Nicholson really showed what he’s capable of this week. He looked more comfortable as the single-high safety, breaking quickly on sideline throws and being in position on all 3 chances he had to cover such passes. If he can remain focused and loose like he played against Atlanta, he and Collins could be a very effective pair in the back end.

Montez Sweat

Sweat is also a player that hasn’t yet impressed me, but last night was better. His motor runs hot from whistle-to-whistle, which is something that his predecessor left to be desired. With Sweat’s physical prowess, I’m not worried about him becoming a good player after seeing him work as hard as he did, and be involved the way he was, consistently on the field with the ones.

That’s it for my thoughts this week. Feel free to hit me up on Twitter (@Kennedy_Paynter), or drop me a line in the comments below. Thanks for reading!