NFL Nation: 2014 NFL Preseason Week 2 NE at WAS Observation Deck

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.
LANDOVER, Md. -- One should always be cautious of reading too much into a preseason game, especially one in which a team rested as many top players as the New England Patriots did in their loss to the Washington Redskins on Thursday night.

So let's just stick to the basic fundamentals of football: If you don't block, you usually don't win.

Patriots followers need no reminder of this, as last season's AFC Championship Game was the most recent reminder of what happens when the offensive line doesn't hold up its end of the bargain. Super Bowl XLII against the New York Giants was another.

That was the top takeaway from Thursday's Patriots-Redskins preseason opener. The Patriots' offensive line, in transition with a new coach and personnel questions at center and right guard, was a disappointment. It's hard to move the ball and score points when that's the case, especially when two of the notable miscues come from one of the best players, left tackle Nate Solder.

There were breakdowns across the front in basic, no-scheme, one-on-one situations, which will shine a brighter spotlight on what is happening up front in the days to come.

Here are some other thoughts on the Patriots' first game of the year:
  • Second-year defensive tackle Chris Jones left the game in the second quarter after injuring his left ankle. He needed help walking off the field and then slowly walked to the locker room under his own power. The Patriots' depth along the defensive line is already thinned after Sealver Siliga injured his left hand on Tuesday. It is unclear how long Siliga will be out.
  • The Patriots rested several key players, a group including quarterback Tom Brady, receivers Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola, left guard Logan Mankins, defensive ends Rob Ninkovich and Chandler Jones, linebackers Jerod Mayo, Jamie Collins and Dont'a Hightower, cornerback Darrelle Revis and safety Devin McCourty. Here were the starting lineups on offense and defense.
  • One storyline entering the game was how the NFL's point of emphasis on defensive holding and illegal contact might affect the physical play of cornerback Brandon Browner. On cue, Browner picked up one penalty in the first half. In the second half, Logan Ryan was among the offenders.
  • Quarterback Ryan Mallett lost the battle of the backup quarterbacks to Washington's Kirk Cousins, but penalties negated a couple of nice plays and Mallett was under pressure throughout. The feeling from here is that the offensive inefficiency was more about losing one-on-one battles up front than on Mallett himself. Mallett played the first half and was sporadic with his accuracy before giving way to Jimmy Garoppolo, who in his debut outperformed Mallett with a quick release, long-ball touch, and decisiveness.
  • While the Patriots lost battles along the offensive line, they didn't win many defensively either. This carried over a theme from joint practices earlier in the week. The Patriots, as previously noted, lost along the line of scrimmage throughout the week in one-on-one situations.

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