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Notes From the Redskins 2nd preseason game

Steve Shoup

1 . Alex Smith and the first team offense look good:

-There was a lot of debate whether not Alex Smith and a number of key starters would even play in the game. While Smith wasn’t dealing with any injury the concern was should Smith play if so many other starters were sitting due to injuries. As it turned out questionable starters Jordan Reed, Josh Doctson and Morgan Moses all ended up playing (though Chris Thompson, Jamison Crowder and Trent Williams were held out), so Smith played as well. The first team offense only got one series, but they moved the ball well on an 11 play 71 yard drive that took 5:30 minutes. They did have to settle for a field goal, but the unit looked good and pretty efficient overall. Next week hopefully more of the starters will be able to play and the unit can get an extended look to get ready for the season.

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2. The first team defense looks in mid-season form:

– The first team defense played longer than the offense and were even more impressive. They sacked Sam Darnold twice and put him under a lot of pressure while they were in. In their two drives versus the 1st team defense the Jets gained a net of just 37 yards. The Redskins run defense has been a major concern the last few years, but they looked good giving up just 7 yards on the ground on 5 carries. This was obviously a small sample size, but this was a very promising start for the Redskins defense.

3. Running back injuries starting to be a major concern:

-While the Redskins were never going to fully replace Derrius Guice potential production, they had hoped that a committee approach would be at least passable this year. That committee approach becomes a lot more difficult if half the members of it end up injured. That is what happened Thursday night Samaje Perine and Byron Marshall both left the game early due to injury. Neither injury appears to be super serious, but both will miss time. Perine has a sprained ankle and is expected to miss 1-2 weeks. That should put him ready for the start of the season, but with ankle sprains it can be pretty easy to suffer a setback that could keep him out longer. Byron Marshall is listed with an “ankle injury” that sounds a bit more severe as it was announced that he would be out 2-4 weeks. Likely that means he won’t be ready week 1, and it’s possible he won’t be ready for week 2 either. Assuming the Redskins feel he can come back, this likely means the Redskins will keep 5 running backs out of camp.

That leaves the Redskins with Chris Thompson, Rob Kelley and Kapri Bibbs as the healthy backs with NFL experience in camp. Thompson is “healthy”, but he’s sat out the first two preseason games as he recovers from last year’s injury and isn’t expected to start the year at 100%. Kelley has had good reports in camp, but he’s had 11 carries for 23 yards in two preseason games so far, and that was running behind either the starting offensive line or the top back-ups. Bibbs has had 8 catches for 58 yards out of the backfield, and 9 carries for 54 yards as a runner. The rushing yards are a bit misleading though as he gained 41 of those yards on a single run, his other 8 carries totaled 13 yards. The Redskins have to get something out of their backs this season, and right now it could be a rough start to the year with so many injuries or guys recovering from injuries.

Related: Redskins rookie Report Week 2 of Preseason

4. Back-up offensive line play is very questionable:

-Trent Williams didn’t play among the starters and back-ups Ty Nsekhe, T.J. Clemmings, Tyler Catalina also sat. The rest of the starting offensive line left pretty quickly so that allowed a lot of time for the 2nd and 3rd units. While they did spend some time facing off versus the Jets first string defense, the Redskins 2nd unit really struggled. Both McCoy and Hogan were under a lot of pressure and holes weren’t being opened in the running game. While it’s quite possible that two of their depth offensive linemen will come from the group of Nsekhe, Clemmings and Catalina, two others should come from the group that was on the field Thursday night. Top expected back-ups Geron Christian and Tony Bergstrom both had their fair share of struggles.

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5. Young secondary passed the test:

-The Redskins young secondary faced off versus a pair of quality quarterbacks in Sam Darnold and Teddy Bridgewater and most of the Jets top receivers, and had little trouble holding their own. The Jets passing attack finished went just 18 of 26 for 189 yards, 1 TD and 2 Interceptions. The Jets passing attack generally had to dump the ball off or settle for short gains. While there were a few breakdowns, the starters and key back-ups played pretty well and were strong in coverage.

6. Kevin Hogan struggled to move the football:

-Hogan did lead the Redskins offense on two field goal drives, including the game winner, but that is a bit misleading. On the Redskins first field goal drive with Hogan, they moved the ball entirely on the ground and due to a Jets penalty. On Hogan’s only dropback on that drive he was sacked which lead to the field goal. On his next three drives Hogan had just 7 yards passing combined and the Redskins went 3-and-out three straight times. He did redeem himself with a solid final drive that lead to the game winning field goal, but this was his 2nd game where he generally wasn’t able to move the ball. There is a major and clear drop off between Colt McCoy and Kevin Hogan. The Redskins will likely keep Hogan on the practice squad, but it’s clear he’s not ready for a roster spot.

7. Red zone offense is a concern:

-The Redskins moved the ball decently well Thursday night versus the Jets, but they failed to get in the end zone. None of Dustin Hopkins five field goals was longer than 40 yards and four of them came from the red zone. While it’s only the preseason and the first team offense was only on the field for one of the field goals, the Redskins red zone efficiency was a concern the past two years. The loss of Derrius Guice could have a big impact here during the season, so the passing game will need to make up for the lack of a true rushing threat. The Redskins shouldn’t be overly concerned about one game, but this will be a key stat to watch next week.

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