- John Keim, ESPN Staff Writer
- 0 Shares
The Redskins’ quarterbacks must do a better job protecting the ball. I’ll discuss this in the RG III report, but both he and Kirk Cousins made either a bad throw or bad decision at bad spots. Sending it high over the middle is begging for a pick; throwing it late with no zip to the outside is begging for a pick as well. Teaching points. But there was too many signs like last year, such as Alfred Morris' fumble and turnovers inside the 30-yard line. So there was some good moving the ball, but those plays are killers.
The offensive speed is obvious and results in subtle yards and big yards. And the presence of receiver DeSean Jackson will have a big impact, whether he catches the ball or not. Just watch the 49-yard pass to receiver Andre Roberts. First, quarterback Robert Griffin III did a good job looking to the right -- Jackson was in the slot on that side and beat his man. The safety ran that way and Griffin threw back to the left slot for Roberts, who had beaten Joe Haden.
It’s the second straight game where a defense paying attention to one weapon opened it up for another. Last week it was the safety cheating ever so slightly toward tight end Jordan Reed in the red zone, creating a narrow gap for Aldrick Robinson and Kirk Cousins a slant for the score. Get used to players cheating one way only to get beat another. It’s what happened in Philadelphia with Jackson. Sometimes that’s all it takes.
The rest of the speed occurred after the catch by Jackson. He created extra yards by making the first defender miss after both of his catches, the second time for 7 yards. It’s not like that’s a ton, but those extra yards add up. That speed is one reason the Redskins had three pass plays of 15 yards or more with their starters.
Also saw that speed, or quickness more so, from tight end Jordan Reed who shook the linebacker on an option route over the middle. Reed’s quickness makes him dangerous, especially if others are the focus of the deep guys. “We did a good job getting the weapons involved,” Griffin said. “When you get talented guys with speed, good hands and they’re smart and are where they’re supposed to be, it’s our job to make those plays and they’re doing a good job of that.”
Ryan Kerrigan finished with two sacks and two quarterback hurries. But what I like is that he’s never fully satisfied. He was not pleased with the majority of his rushes, saying he was trying to win too much with speed and was too worried about hands. But he did not get good takeoffs to win that way. Kerrigan’s sack in which he beat tackle Mitchell Schwartz came as a result of pure power. “I need to stick with what works,” Kerrigan said. “Too often I tried to knock his hands down and get on the edge where I just need to go right through. That’s what’s disappointing. I missed out on opportunities.” Remember: He had two sacks. He was disappointed.
Corner David Amerson had a strong game, or, at least, a few nice plays. First came a de-cleater block on a punt return, which is obviously what coaches like to see. But what happened on his next series was just as good and more meaningful. On a run to his side, Amerson fought off a block from tight end Jordan Cameron, raced up and made the tackle for a 4-yard gain. Was it a special play? No. Was it telling? Yes. If you saw any of Amerson’s college tape, you wouldn’t have guessed he could make such a play. Seriously, I saw too many times where he’d basically stop on such a play or not fight off the blocker. But he’s been better against the run in the NFL. He was aggressive and competed and it’s why he has a chance to keep growing as a corner.
Backup quarterback Kirk Cousins did what he does: He made plays, but he also had a couple throws that were bad. One resulted in an interception, an overthrow to Robinson over the middle with a single-high safety. Just a bad throw. On his next series, Cousins made a curious throw off his back foot to Robinson, missing him low. He wasn’t open anyway. But Cousins also hit receiver Ryan Grant in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown (Grant was wide open; the throw was good). Cousins led an earlier scoring drive as well, with the big play being a 24-yard screen pass to Santana Moss.
It’s still hard to know what to make of the Redskins’ defense, though the pass rush has been solid. They just haven’t been tested in their first two games (Saturday at Baltimore provides a much better one), though they’ve done exactly what they should in this situation. Cleveland had three three-and-outs in to open the game. Of course, their one good drive against the starters came in part because of a third-and-18 holding penalty on E.J. Biggers. For what it’s worth, I guess Biggers covers better than Bashaud Breeland. But I like Breeland’s mindset on the field and I’d find a way to work him in. The more guys who play with that mindset, the better your team will play.
This game had no flow thanks to 21 combined penalties. In some cases defenses must learn how to play better when it comes to illegal contact or holding. In other cases it’s typical preseason nonsense. Hopefully players get the hint before the season begins. “Please Jesus keep calling them,” Griffin said. “It helps us as an offense.” And there’s the flipside.
2dJohn Keim and Adam Caplan