Redskins.com’s Brian Tinsman takes a closer look at Thursday’s preseason opener against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field:
The Washington Redskins took the field to face an opponent for the first time in 214 days today, as they took on the Tennessee Titans for the preseason opener for the 2013 season.
Good, bad or indifferent, the final score is irrelevant in exhibition action, but for the participants on the field, the opportunity to continue an NFL dream lies in the balance.
Roster cuts won’t occur until after the third preseason game, but for the first time in a long time, more established NFL players are competing for their jobs as the level of competition has risen on the roster. Even in a game that technically means nothing, the Redskins played with pride and a sense of urgency tonight.
The Redskins got beaten at the line of scrimmage a number of times early in the evening, with the most notable coming on a Chris Johnson run through a giant hole in the first quarter. Clearly, there were a number of breakdowns on the play, as rookie safety
PLAY OF THE GAME
PLAYER OF THE GAME
After leading the NFL in rushing last season, the Redskins look to get better this season with the healthy return of Roy Helu Jr. The team rested a number of starters tonight, including
WHAT WENT RIGHT
--The Redskins got some of their injured players back in the fold tonight without exposing any of them to injuries. Tight end
--Brian Orakpo has been such a force throughout offseason training and training camp that it’s easy to forget he missed nearly 15 regular season games in the last two seasons with pectoral injuries. Orakpo told the media at the beginning of camp that he would play unafraid, and that’s exactly what he did out there tonight. There are certainly things to tighten up on defense, but the pass rush looks strong early.
--Redskins running back Roy Helu Jr. looked healthy for the first time the Week 14 matchup against the New England Patriots in 2011. Getting the start for a healthy Alfred Morris, Helu Jr. showed that he still has vision and speed, bouncing runs to the outside and cutting back through the hole with ease. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said he would select the second-best running back as his backup to Alfred Morris, and Helu Jr. did nothing to disappoint tonight.
--The Redskins developed the returner battle this evening, seeing
--The Redskins offense relied on a methodical approach tonight, picking up 24 first downs and outgaining the Titans in total yards, 359 to 269. The score may not reflect the success the team had on offense, but the offense showed that they could move the football throughout the game, which reflects well on the team’s cohesion early in the preseason process.
--Pat White had a strong showing in his return to football, finishing with a stat line of 5-for-8 for 31 yards and another four rushes for 34 yards and a touchdown. White is a true dual-threat quarterback and showed his ability on the team’s final scoring drive. After running the touchdown in himself, White put nice touch on a pass to tight end Emmanuel Ogbuehi for the two-point conversion. Welcome back, Pat.
WHAT WENT WRONG
--Most mistakes in the preseason can be attributed to simple rust or miscommunication between teammates. The Redskins did make a number of mistakes tonight, but that is why the NFL plays four preseason games: so teams are ready to go full force by Week 1. Take all negatives with a grain of salt—teams aren’t expected to look great at this point in the season.
--Starting strong safety Bacarri Rambo got exposed to NFL speed early in his career, biting on a fake by Titans running back Chris Johnson that resulted in a 58-yard touchdown by the former 2,000-yard back. Johnson is one of the best at his position when healthy, so there’s no shame in compensating for his outside speed. This game film should prove useful for the youngster as he prepares for a bright future in the NFL.
--While the penalties committed weren’t egregious, the starters committed a few avoidable penalties, including a delay of game on an obvious punt situation and an offsides penalty on Pro Bowler Brian Orakpo. Later in the first half, Rambo drew a frustration penalty as he shoved a Titans running back out of bounds after a touchdown. That can’t happen. The Redskins defense has shown a visible aggression early this year which pays dividends with sacks and turnovers. However, if unchecked, teams will use hard counts to keep them off balance all year.
--Cornerback Richard Crawford likely got robbed on a fourth-quarter interception, trapping the ball between his legs as he rolled around in the end zone for a touchback. Unfortunately for him, video replay was inconclusive one way or the other and did not show enough to overturn the play on the field. The Titans ultimately converted for a touchdown several plays later, sealing the game.
By completing five passes tonight, Pat White surpassed his career totals for NFL passes. In 2010, he went four-for-four in a preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons. He failed to complete a pass in the regular season and was out of football until this year. It’s been a long time coming, but congrats, Pat.
“He’s come back like a hungry, wild animal, so Orakpo’s going to be back to his Pro Bowl ways.”
The Redskins bring football back to Washington next week, hosting their first preseason game of the schedule at FedExField against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night Football.
It will be the first of two preseason games in five days at FedExField, but will come after an 11-day rest from Game 1.
The third preseason game is traditionally seen as the dress rehearsal game for the regular season, but it is likely that more Redskins players will be active for Game 2 than tonight.
Ultimately, the outcome of preseason games don’t count for anything, and plenty of Super Bowl winners have underperformed in the preseason.
However, with tonight’s game, the Redskins have a lot to feel good about and a reasonable list of things to work on. This was a valuable progress report on the work that they’ve done in training camp, and as the team starts introducing more elements of the playbook, look for the play to improve.
Considering the team trotted out three rookie starters on defense, resting eight guys that started at least one game last season for the team, this was a quality showing on both sides of the ball.
The Redskins will fly back tonight and lift tomorrow, but it’s back to the grind on Saturday. Come watch the Redskins in action at 1 p.m. at the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center in Richmond, Va.