Everything you need to know from the Redskins 23-17 loss to the Baltimore Ravens
Here's everything you need to know about the Redskins pre-season loss to the Baltimore Ravens:
The starting defense played well, they play a very bend-don't-break style. The biggest difference in the defense from last year to this year is the speed, the Redskins defense definitely flies around trying to create turnovers and not give up the big play.
I didn't think it was possible, but Keenan Robinson may be better than he was advertised this off-season. Robinson always seems to be around the ball. The Texas product deflected a Joe Flacco pass that saved a touchdown, and had a beautiful solo tackle to stop the Ravens on a 4th and 1.
For those of you that believe Trent Murphy will replace Brian Orakpo after this season, I invite you to re‑watch the game after Orakpo exited with an ankle injury. The Redskins push up front is just flat-out better with Orakpo in the game, he may not always be the player getting the sack but simply having an all-pro outside linebacker to account for opens up lanes for others to get to the quarterback. Staying on this topic, I love the packages that feature Orakpo, Kerrigan, and Murphy. The speed and versatility of these packages is a matchup nightmare for opposing offenses.
Ryan Kerrigan stayed at home and made a fantastic play on a reverse to Jacoby Jones, resulting in a five yard loss.
I love Chris Baker. When you watch Baker play, you can tell he truly loves playing the game of football. Baker is a high motor player that always seems to be in the middle of plays, whether it's deflecting passes or plugging up running lanes, I just love his game.
David Amerson had a solid game, he really impressed me with a nice tackle on Steve Smith to force a fourth down in a 3rd and 2 situation. Amerson wasn't always willing to get his jersey dirty in run support last season, and that appears to have changed this season.
Jarvis Jenkins has played pretty well, he showed a good motor and really hustled getting downfield to help in the run game. However, Jenkins did a good job of getting to the quarterback, got his arms wrapped around him but didn't finish the sack allowing the quarterback to escape. Jenkins can't allow that to happen, sacks are momentum killers for opposing offenses, and being part of a defense that lives and dies off pressure you have to finish those opportunities.
Speaking of attitude, the Redskins defense as a whole has a sort of nastiness about it that has been lacking in the pass. Whether it was Ryan Clark, Brandon Meriweather, or Keenan Robinson the Skins defense had several physical hits that set the tone of games.
The Ravens' offense produced -8 yards rushing at the end of the first quarter, a great sign of improvement in general but especially tackling wise.
Brandon Meriweather has played well, but he has to keep his hits lower. The Redskins' secondary doesn't have the best depth and they can't afford to have Meriweather missing significant time from suspensions from illegal hits.
This game has me really questioning the "Ryan Clark has lost a step" reports. The 34 year old vet looks good, and will certainly be a much needed upgrade to the secondary position in 2014.
Before we get to the "RG III Report" I have to emphasize that this offense starts with Alfred Morris. The best thing Jay Gruden can do is control the time of possession and pound the ball away with Morris, then when the time is right (when the defense has the box stacked with 8 guys) use play action and use the weapons you have on the outside.
Now to Griffin. Griffin and the starting offense never really got a rhythm going, whether it was a fumble or a penalty, you never really saw the full potential of the Redskins offense. It's very telling that Griffin and company came out for an extra series after halftime due to their lack of success in the first half.
The Ravens' defense is much like the Redskins in the fact that they have two very talented outside linebackers that can get after the quarterback in Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil. However, that doesn't change the fact that the Redskins offensive line needs to do a better job protecting Griffin. RG III will have a tough enough time adjusting to new receivers, a new coach, and a new offense without having to run for his life.
Griffin did a good job of staying out of trouble, he didn't take any hits that a pocket passing quarterback wouldn't have taken. Griffin did a good job of using the sideline to protect himself, eliminating the need to slide altogether.
The interception wasn't entirely on Griffin. Griffin used his check-down when he attempted to hit his running back, only to have the ball batted up in the air and intercepted. The back wasn't extremely open, but that's a situation where Griffin often takes off and takes some unnecessary hits, so it's encouraging to see him using his check down.
The Skins offense has to do a better job finishing drives, when you enter the red-zone you have to be in the mindset that you're coming away with 7, not 3 points. The first string offense has settled for field goals far too often this pre-season.
Essentially after the "dress rehearsal" third pre-season game, there are still a lot of question marks facing this offense. We know their potential, with all the weapons they have, but can they avoid the turnovers and penalties enough to reach that potential? They will have to cut down in these areas and get in synch as a unit, I don't think there's been one time in the first three pre-season games where the offense was even close to firing on all cylinders, which is concerning.
I was impressed with the Redskins' special teams unit. They did a nice job covering one of the best in the business in Jacoby Jones, and Andre Roberts had a nice return to give the Skins good starting field position.
One positive note to take away from the offense, Griffin converted back to back third downs to Jordan Reed, only to have one negated by a penalty (this is the type of momentum killer I talked about earlier). Penalty or not, it is encouraging to see Griffin use Reed as that sort of go-to target Griffin can count on in those third down situations.
Bashaud Breeland continues to play well, and you have to think he will be pushing for the slot cornerback position sooner than later, adding another hard hitting guy that plays with a nasty streak to the defensive unit.
Silas Redd has continued to look good, but the only thing that concerns me about the rookie is that he doesn't possess the speed that gives the Redskins an additional element on offense, Seastrunk and Thompson do. It will be interesting to see how the running back cut shakes out, Redd is at least worth a practice squad spot.
Niles Paul has improved as a pass-catching tight end. Paul has made a few receptions this pre-season, but made his most impressive catch of maybe his career on a 22 yard strike from Kirk Cousins where he was pretty well covered but managed to make the catch anyway.
Yes, Kirk Cousins played well. No, there is no question who the starter is in Washington. I've said it before and I'll say it again, Cousins has never been anything but a pocket passer, of course he is going to be more comfortable as a pocket passer than Griffin. Griffin will take time to develop into more of a pocket passer, but the ceiling his much higher with Griffin under center. In the short term, Cousins may play sharper, but the more reps Griffin gets the better, and there is no question that Griffin can take the Redskins further than Cousins can. Please go watch the film of Cousins' four career NFL regular season starts before you tell me otherwise. Griffin is still the future, end of story.
Essentially this game didn't provide many answers to the questions the Redskins' had hoped to have answered. We've yet to see the starting offense at its full potential, and the starting defense only gave up one touchdown that I'm not sure E.J. Biggers didn't slip, I'm not sure Steve Smith didn't push off, and I'm not sure he had complete possession of the ball. Regardless of any of that, just like the Redskins the Ravens were running a very vanilla offense so it's still tough to truly judge the defense (although they have looked good).
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