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Thoughts and Observations From the Redskins vs Titans

Steve Shoup

1. Roy Helu Jr. looked great and is what the Redskins need:

-It was unfortunate (though not totally unexpected) that Alfred Morris didn’t play, but that only meant more Roy Helu Jr. and he made the most out of his opportunity. Helu rushed for 57 yards on 13 carries and had another 18 yard run called back due to a holding penalty. Helu showed good speed and cutting ability and on more than one occasion turned what looked like a loss or a stop for no gain into a positive run. If Helu can stay healthy his speed can be a nice  complementary threat to Alfred Morris.

2. Kirk Cousins looked really sharp:

-Cousins looked like a starter back there for the Redskins and he did a nice job getting rid of the ball in face of pressure on a couple of occasions. His only incomplete pass was the drop by Logan Paulsen that was initially ruled a catch. Cousins picked apart the Titans defense, didn’t take big risks and still showed the ability to thread the needle (Moss 10 yard catch). This is exactly what you want to see from him, and gives Mike Shanahan plenty of confidence in knowing that he has Cousins if Griffin can’t go for some reason.

3. The pass rush was great:NFL: AUG 12 Preseason - Steelers at Redskins

Ryan Kerrigan, Brian Orakpo and Brandon Jenkins got a number of pressures versus the first unit. This is what the Redskins pass defense was seriously missing last season, and this was a great sign for this defense. Jenkins continued to impress against the second unit, and some of the Redskins back-up defensive linemen like Kedric Golston and Phillip Merling also got some nice penetration later in the game. The Orakpo-Kerrigan-Jenkins package though is the one that really deserves a lot of attention. They have the ability to be a three man wrecking crew and if they can continue to replicate what they did last night their pass rush should only improve. Also remember Barry Cofield wasn’t in the game last night and he gets his fair share of pressures as well.

4. Aldrick Robinson had a rough game:

-Robinson who was trending up so far in camp, didn’t have the best day catching the football. He dropped an easy catch from Grossman, and then struggled to catch another  ball along the sideline. On a couple of other routes he didn’t get as much separation as you’d like to see and just seemed out of whack in his route running. Frankly he looked like a rookie who was nervous, not a guy who is in his 3rd preseason. Though I don’t really see his job being in jeopardy, his role on the team is very much up in the air. If he plays that that he won’t see much time in the regular season and could even be inactive.

5. Back-up Offensive line really struggled

-Though they struggled as a whole unit, the guys who were the biggest culprits were 2nd year guys LT Tom Compton and LG Josh LeRibeus. Compton actually started with the first team, and didn’t do to bad, though he wasn’t good by any stretch. Against the second unit though Compton really started struggling more, giving up far too much pressure and committing a false start penalty. While his performance was disappointing, it was still better than that of  his fellow 2012 draftee Josh LeRibeus. Now LeRibeus may not have been 100% since he was banged up the other day in practice, but he was out there and did struggle quite a bit. LeRibeus had two holding penalties, though one was declined because the pass was incomplete. In addition to those penalties, LeRibeus struggled throughout his time in the game, particularly in pass blocking, giving up a couple big pressures that got his quarterback hit. It was not a good performance and one that he has to make up for.

6. Run defense was lacking:

-Though they gave up 126 yards and 5.0 yards per carry, it was actually much worse for the Redskins run defense since the majority of that came in the first half against the starters. The Redskins allowed only 23 rushing yards in the 2nd half, which helped keep this from being 175-200 yard game for the Titans rushing attack. Now it was primarily on two big plays, but the Redskins execution on these plays was really bad. On Chris Johnson‘s TD run, the entire defensive line was caught out of position, which was then compounded when Brian Orakpo took too wide of a rush, opening up a big hole he couldn’t close. While that explains why this run was a positive run for the Titans, the reason, it was a TD was due to the two rookie safeties. Phillip Thomas was playing up in the box, and he committed far too soon. He went to fill the hole in the middle, which made Johnson’s decision to cut outside that much easier. Thomas was getting blocked to the ground right when Johnson was crossing the line of scrimmage. Bacarri Rambo then became the last line of defense, and he took a poor angle and Johnson easily cut around him. Poor angles also accounted for the Titans 19 yard touchdown, as did the fact that the line just didn’t generate enough penetration. This is an area that needs fixing ASAP.

7. Penalties Continue to Plague the Redskins:

-This was a big area of concern last season, and so far it continues to be this year as well. Some of the penalties were down right stupid like Fred Davis‘s end zone celebration and Rambo’s late hit, but others were just sloppy mistakes. You can’t commit 11 penalties for 89 yards and expect to win many football games. I know some people may say that Davis’ celebration penalty isn’t a big deal because it is preseason, but it does matter. For one thing it led to the Chris Johnson TD run, showing some weaknesses in our defense. If the Titans didn’t have that field position, they may have run a different play. The other issue with it is of course the fact that Davis hasn’t exactly shown the greatest restraint or made the best decisions during the season in his past. Rambo also has to watch hitting a guy late, they are going to be more vigilant with that this season, and if you don’t watch you could see some teams retaliate and take cheaper shots at our players as well.

8. Phillip Thomas injury:

-We will learn more in the coming days, but it is disappointing to see Thomas go down. It is clear that he needs the work and needs the reps, and even if this doesn’t knock him out for any part of the regular season, it will keep him out of practice and a stretch of preseason work. Just by the sheer fact that it is a sprain, I’d say he’s out at least the next two weeks, which unfortunately happen to be the most important weeks of the preseason. While DeJon Gomes did some nice things filling in for Thomas this is a setback to the safety unit that still doesn’t have Brandon Meriweather back 100%.

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