Its finally here. Football is back! Granted it’s just preseason, but it’s still Redskins football! So much has happened this offseason, and so much more still needs to happen. Thursday will be the DC area’s first taste of football since that bitter end to last season. Week 1 of preseason brings us an early “Battle of the Beltway.” The Ravens may have had a horrible training camp, and honestly who cares. LP and FP are here to preview Game 1 and each give their 4 things to watch for.
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
This is the second most important preseason game of the year, after of course the 3rd preseason dress rehearsal. I don’t think we can understate the amount of things that are going to be important to watch here. Sure, the casual fan may watch the first drive, or even the first quarter, but the game goes much deeper and has much more significance than just the starters. Based on Gruden’s Tuesday 1:00pm presser we know that Crowder, Doctson, Reed, Moreau, Kendal Thompson and Montae Nicholson will not play but there is still plenty to watch for. Here’s what I’ll be watching for:
- How much does Breeland play? We all saw Gruden throw Breeland in the dog house just a few days ago. This Thursday we’ll see how much he’s really in the dog house. If the starting defense plays just a series or 2 but Breeland plays a whole quarter or even a whole half, it will be a telling sign of how unconfident they are in him as a starter in 2017. Remember, this is preseason, Value = Less playing time. (If you’re doing your job)
- How will the offensive play calling rhythm look? Is Kirk Cousins going to be snapping the ball with under 5 seconds left on the play clock the first series of the first game of preseason? If so this is going to be a long year. We saw Gruden struggle with getting the plays communicated to the then OC (Sean McVay) then to Kirk Cousins in year 1 of the Gruden era. Has Gruden found a more efficient way of doing this? I’d watch for the body language of all 3 quarterbacks, WR’s, and RBs. If they look confused, it’s probably because they are, and the plays aren’t getting communicated fast enough.
- Who gets the start at NT? Is it Phil Taylor? Is it Joey Mbu? Is it Matt Ionaddis? With them all healthy I look forward to seeing who is going to take the leap and cement themselves as at least the week 1 starter. It certainly seems like its Phil Taylors job to lose.
- Can Nate Sudfeld build upon the limited success in last years’ preseason? As much as we don’t want it, we all know Kirk may be gone in 2018 or 2019, and we know what we have in Colt McCoy. I wonder if Gruden and the coaching staff give Nate Sudfeld a little more playing time with the second unit. This is over the latter which is playing time against defensive players who the majority are unlikely to be on a roster come September 10th or at least have significant roles.
Everyone is familiar with the headlines, Scot is no longer the GM, Kirk hasn’t signed a long term deal, Pierre and DeSean are long gone and Bruce Allen is still Bruce Allen. In the most Redskins of ways, they have still managed to get me excited for this season. Doctson and Pryor, Zach Brown and a strong draft have me feeling giddy and hopeful. Here’s what I’ll be watching for:
- The secondary – Last year’s defense was horrible. If an opposing offense had a 3rd and 7 or better it was basically a guarantee they’ll convert. LP already hit on Breeland, and you can bet that Norman and Cravens will likely have just 1 series. I want to see Dashaun Phillips, Quinton Dunbar, Kendall Fuller, Josh Holsey and the other young CBs look competent. No missed assignments, no blown coverages, no getting beat.
- The inside Linebackers – Zach Brown is a pro-bowler. Mason Foster and Will Compton are slowly growing in this defense. The Redskins won’t show how we’ll be utilizing these guys and rotating them this early, but the thing I want to see is who can recognize offensive formations quickly and truly lead this defense and get everyone in place.
- Greg Manusky and staff – Just like the players, this team made a lot of changes for the coaching staff on Defense. Out is Joe Barry and in is Manusky. I want to see aggressive play calling, the right guys in the right place and solid, sound tackling. In my eyes a good DC makes sure fundamentals are intact before building schemes.
- Samaje Perine – Again, this is game 1 of the preseason, but the RBs need some good reps. I want to see Perine’s vision and patience. Not known for break away speed and ankle breaking moves, watch to see if Perine has a basic understanding of the lineman’s blocking assignments and hits the hole right. Also watch out for how he does during pass blocking.
Thursday game won’t showcase the stars and the full potential of this team. However if you watch closely and see a hunger, swagger and overall prepared and educated approach to the game, from the depths of this team, this may end up being a better season than many of us expected back in March. Make sure to check in immediately after the game for our reactions, analysis and breakdown of the game.
LET’S GO SKINS! HAIL YEAH!