Redskins.com’s Brian Tinsman takes a closer look at Monday Night’s preseason home opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers at FedExField:
The Washington Redskins ran out of the tunnel tonight, exactly 225 nights after falling to the Seattle Seahawks in the Wild Card game. The stakes were certainly different in this game, but the feeling of optimism remained, as nearly 70,000 fans turned out to celebrate football back in the Nation’s Capital.
The Redskins sought more seasoning for their starters tonight, with plans to leave the regulars in until halftime. Running back
Regardless of the final score, the Redskins looked to make big strides toward the regular season tonight.
The Redskins defense had their way with the Steelers offensive line, frequently collapsing the pocket putting pressure on all four Steelers quarterbacks, chasing Ben Roethlisberger early, knocking Charlie Batch out of the game and sacking Bruce Gradkowski twice. The most colossal collision was dealt by Redskins inside linebacker
PLAY OF THE GAME
PLAYER OF THE GAME
The defense ruled the night, putting constant pressure on Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, making a mockery of a young, rebuilding offensive line. The lynchpin of the defensive onslaught was outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, who continued his reign of terror on opposing quarterbacks. Now in his third season, Kerrigan is playing like a man on fire, picking up better than he left off last season, a Pro Bowl campaign. It’s easy to say that he will benefit from the return of
WHAT WENT RIGHT
--The Redskins hit a homerun with their pass rush this offseason, getting back Pro Bowler Brian Orakpo, retaining veteran
--By having such a plethora of pass rushers on staff, the Redskins are able to mix and match on obvious passing downs. At one point in the second quarter, the team had Ryan Kerrigan up and a line composed of
--Redskins running back Alfred Morris got his first taste of preseason action today, and while his numbers may not be noteworthy (4 carries, 12 yards), he was back to taking live reps. Look to see more of Morris this Saturday vs. the Bills in what is commonly referred to as the dress rehearsal game for the regular season. He should be well-rested and ready by the time the Eagles roll around in Week 1.
--Nose tackle Barry Cofield did not suit up last week, but made up for last time this week, wreaking havoc in the middle of the defensive line. Cofield has been criticized by football “experts” for playing the nose tackle position undersized, but his athletic ability matches the tempo with which Jim Haslett directs his defense. By keep Ben Roethlisberger off balance early tonight, the Redskins were able to stifle the Steelers’ offensive attack all night.
--Rookie safety Bacarri Rambo had a big bounce-back game tonight, forcing a fumble on running back Jonathan Dwyer by alertly punching the ball out. Rambo is technically a free safety but has a comfort level playing near the line of scrimmage, which plays into the Redskins’ versatility at safety. He will be asked to play all over the field on defense and looked much less like a rookie tonight.
--The surface at FedExField looks dramatically improved over the last time the Redskins ran through the home tunnel. Sporting a fresh sod and boasting a new and improved drainage system, the Redskins made serious efforts to prevent the conditions from last year recurring late in the 2013 season. Of course, this is August and the meaningful games will happen four-five months from now, but this is a much better place to start.
--Rookie cornerback David Amerson may be new to the NFL, but he hasn’t been the punching bag that most rookie defensive backs become. In fact, his first two opponents did not seem to be targeting him any more than your average veteran and he has responded well. Through two games, he has five tackles with a pass defensed, all while running with the first-string defense.
--Linebacker Bryan Kehl continues to make a strong case for the final 53-man roster, with three tackles and 1.5 sacks in limited action. That adds to his five tackles from last week for a solid preseason resume. The Redskins need quality depth on defense and special teams, a pair of roles that Kehl can fill. Look for the Redskins to keep him around this year as he continues to show ability and motor.
WHAT WENT WRONG
--For the second-consecutive game, a Redskins safety was flagged with a 15-yard penalty for a late hit out of bounds. On both occasions, the opposing player was clearly out of bounds and the reaction by the Redskins defender was one of frustration. Games can be won and lost on major penalties, and this flies in the face of what head coach Mike Shanahan talked about in players keeping their composure. It is only the preseason, but now is the time to correct the tendencies that will get players in real trouble during the regular season.
--Redskins nose tackle Barry Cofield was given X-rays on his hand and the injury is believed to be at least somewhat serious. If the Redskins lose him for any long period of time, they will lose a key playmaker and captain in the heart of their defense.
Including regular season games, outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan has three career interceptions. Having a finely-tuned nose for the end zone, he has returned all three for defensive touchdowns. Showing the ability to be versatile, he has also celebrated differently each time, dunking the ball over the crossbar tonight after previously celebrating with teammates and jumping into the stands.
Outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan on pick-six interception:
“Fletch alerted us before the play, ‘Screen, watch the screen.’ Sure enough, that’s what came out and I was able to intercept it and take it to the house.”
The Redskins will be back at FedExField in just five days, hosting the Buffalo Bills for the all-important third preseason game. Given the timeline and the availability of certain injured starters, this game could prove to be less like a dress rehearsal than the team might ideally like. That being said, it will be an important developmental opportunity for players and an even more important assessment period for the Redskins coaching staff.
Ultimately, the outcome of preseason games don’t count for anything, and the Redskins have reason for concern with the number of injuries suffered tonight.
Losing quarterback Kirk Cousins for the remainder of the game will likely not impede his development or affect the Redskins’ long-term situation at quarterback.
The possible long-term loss of nose tackle Barry Cofield, however, seriously damages the defense’s depth and talent. The team is already without
The Redskins will look to rest up ahead of Saturday’s preseason matchup against the Buffalo Bills. If Cousins is unable to answer the bell on Saturday, look for the team to trot out Rex Grossman and Pat White to cover the quarterback duties.