LANDOVER, Md. – The Washington Redskins made it clear that they wanted to run the ball. It's just the preseason, but it should be evident that the coaches understand that the run game will be further ahead than the pass game. At least it appeared that way in Washington's 23-6 preseason opening win versus the New England Patriots. The Redskins rushed for 179 yards, gaining 389 overall -- and the line did a good job both in protection and run blocking. It's also evident the Patriots understand that this is still the preseason, sitting quarterback Tom Brady for the night.
Here are some other thoughts on the Redskins' first game of the year:
The Redskins' first offense did an excellent job running the ball, especially on outside zones to the left with back Alfred Morris. The blocking by left tackle Trent Williams and tight end Logan Paulsen to that side was good; Jordan Reed even had a good block to the inside on one run. The Redskins ran the ball effectively all night. It will be their calling card this season too. Fullback Darrel Young had a strong game blocking as well.
Quarterback Robert Griffin III was fine. He had one good checkdown, going through his progressions and dumping the ball to the right to Roy Helu for seven yards. Griffin also made a good throw to Aldrick Robinson in the end zone, giving him a chance. But Robinson came down in the end zone with one hand out of bounds. Griffin didn't do a whole lot flashy, but he was mostly in control and that's a start.
One thing that jumped out was Keenan Robinson's speed. It's not a revelation to say he's fast, but there were a couple times it helped Thursday night. As the Patriots ran to the left, Robinson approached the line and slowed and the back ran outside. But Robinson was able to change directions and make a leg tackle. Robinson also covered running back Shane Vereen split wide. Vereen gave him a stop and go and Robinson had him all the way.
Rookie Zach Hocker took the early lead in the kicking competition against incumbent Kai Forbath. Hocker had better kickoffs and was perfect on two field goals, from 39 and 29 yards. Forbath missed a 46-yard field goal short and wide to the right. He had shorter kickoffs and knocked one out of bounds as well. The two kickers were probably even through the first two weeks of camp too.
It's tough to gauge the first-team defense because Brady did not play. But that probably doesn't matter to linebacker Brian Orakpo, who drew a holding penalty on starting left tackle Nate Solder. Orakpo later bulled Solder to the inside for a sack of quarterback Ryan Mallett. Linebacker Ryan Kerrigan applied pressure from the other side.