Washington Redskins wake-up call

The Washington Redskins will host the New England Patriots at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in the preseason opener. Looks like a gorgeous night: lows in the upper 60s with no chance of rain. Sold. Here are three quick thoughts on the preseason.

  1. The preseason games get real old real fast, but it’s a great evaluation for the young players, which is why they’re still worthwhile. The games don’t count, but you can at least learn about various players. Alfred Morris two years ago forced everyone to take notice with some of his runs. Who will jump out this preseason? Someone usually does. It's fun to see who that first big storyline will be after the opener. Also, the punting and kicking competitions finally get real. Yes, practices matter but the games are weighted much heavier.

  2. Nobody understood the preseason less than former Redskins coach Steve Spurrier. He genuinely thought that first game in Osaka, Japan, when his offense clicked would carry over into the regular season, not realizing little things like game plans, etc. But I also remember after the Redskins rallied in the fourth quarter for a preseason win over Pittsburgh how dumbfounded Spurrier was that 95 percent of the questions were about the failures of the starters. They had just won a game, Spurrier said.

  3. Jay Gruden will not make that mistake. Gruden comes across as a sharp guy, not one who is just happy to have the job but one who understands what needs to improve. I don’t know what he’ll ultimately do as a head coach, but I like the teaching that has taken place in camp and am curious to see how that translates – now and in the future. If they win, he’ll take it for what it is. So will the players. After all, they went 4-0 last summer – that’s one more win than they had all season