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No cause for alarm

Aug 14, 2009, 7:45 AM EDT

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Campbell was 3 for 6 for 38 yards

CampCampbell was 3 for 6 for 38 yards

In yesterday’s Washington Examiner, Rick Snider made the argument that the NFL needs to go from four preseason games to two and to increase the regular season from 16 to 18 games. I wholeheartedly agree with my friend and I will add one more reason to his list. Two fewer preseason games will give Redskins fans two fewer occasions for irrational fretting.

It’s not that there aren’t reasons for some concern. Getting shut out is not good. The Ravens’ first-team offense moved the ball with ease against the front-line Washington D (minus Albert Haynesworth and Carlos Rogers). Justin Tryon, who was much hyped here and in other places, was burned a few times.

And the two teams played at different levels. The Redskins showed effort; the Ravens displayed intensity.

But some perspective is necessary. It was the first of four preseason games, glorified practices with lights, a clock, and referees. The starting offense, such as it was minus its Pro Bowl running back and top wide receiver, played two series. Jason Campbell was three for six for 38 yards. If in, say, Week 6 the Redskins go out and their starting offense gains 40 yards and three first downs we would say that they’re off to a bit of a sluggish start but it wouldn’t be any cause for major concern, especially against a top-flight defense such as the Ravens’.

But because the starters hit the bench after that, it’s all we have to go on and so numerous participants in my live blog last night already have abandoned hope for the 2009 season and are ready to draft an offensive tackle with the 2010 top-five pick the Redskins surely are going to have.

Just do yourself a favor and take a deep breath and put down the sharp objects. The 2009 Redskins won’t make anyone forget about the ’08 Patriots or anything but they aren’t going to get shut out for the season, either. The defense will give up fewer yards when Albert Haynesworth is in the lineup.

If you want a good recap of what really matters in these “games”—the individual performances and matchups—go check out John Keim’s blog in the Examiner. Outstanding analysis by the writer who is, by far, the best one covering the Redskins when it comes to breaking down techniques, X’s and O’s, and the like. (Hint: click on the “continue reading” link first, it’s much easier to read.)

  1. John - Aug 15, 2009 at 3:55 PM

    The funny part: if the Skins had gone for 500 yards against the Ravens and pitched a shutout, you’d be arguing the complete opposite.

    Look, maybe the fans and the media can afford to yawn at that disaster, but the team and coaches better not be. The offense looked like last year’s — no punch, no downfield offense. The defense was gashed by a lousy offense — and cry “but but but Fat Albert wasn’t there!” all you want, but the reality is Fat Albert is unlikely to play all season and only participates in about 70% of the snaps anyway, so it’s not like that defense will be unusual.

    The Redskins sh*t the bed in every category except punting — and good thing, too: they’ll be punting a lot.

    The Skins have work to do. Instead of ignoring that horrific game, it should be a wakeup call.

  2. Rich - Aug 15, 2009 at 6:32 PM

    John, your “funny part” is really a “stupid part”.

    Obviously you haven’t read this blog much. I well remember Osaka and the false hope that the big offensive showing there provided. I also remember the Lions going 4-0 in the preseason last year. I can go on and on but I trust you get the point.

    There are about five years worth of archives here. If you find a pattern of posts expressing tremendous optimism after preseason performances, please do point them out to me.

    Look, if you want to fret about last Thursday, please feel free to do so. But don’t come in here and tell me what I would have said in a given situation.

    Thanks for the comment.

  3. TJ - Aug 15, 2009 at 8:48 PM

    Blache never shows anything in preseason and I think he wanted Tryon to get burnt after all the positive press he’d been getting. If Tryon is in on 3rd down he probably moves to outside and the stronger Rogers or Smoot move to cover the slot. What I took from game is that Collins is locked in at the backup QB and Hackett probably takes the 5th WR spot with Mitchell on the practice squad. Also, one more performance like that and Davis will be behind Yoder on the depth chart. Mike Williams did better than I thought he would but we still dont have a good option behind Samuels at LT.

  4. John - Aug 16, 2009 at 8:15 AM

    Rich, you’re irrationally fretting about a comment on your blog. Chillax… it’s just a preseason blog post. You’re getting your panties in a wad unnecessarily. But I’ve looked back through your blog history and you have NEVER, EVER commented after a Redskins blowout victory, “Hey, it’s meaningless, ignore it, there’s nothing to see here…”

    Look, the preseason matters. It’s when you prepare for the regular season. The final score is meaningless, but the games matter. It’s when you find the young players who can contribute. It’s when you install your offense and defense (while keeping some stuff under wraps). Ignore it at your peril.

  5. Rich - Aug 16, 2009 at 8:28 AM

    Again, thanks for the comment, John. But I’ve seen too many ugly 0-4 preseasons be followed by successful regular seasons and too many Osakas to put any stock in the preseason, especially the first game. You reel off a nice string of cliches there about the importance of preseason games but there are scant few facts out there to back them up.

  6. John - Aug 16, 2009 at 6:38 PM

    Well, let me help you out, Rich: the reason you see no correlation between preseason success and regular season success is because you’re measuring preseason success wrong. Don’t look at the scoreboard. Look at the play on the field.

    Let’s say your starting offense marches down the field on the opening possession and scores easily. Your second string scores another TD. But the final score is 48-14 because your third string gets blown out. Guess what? Nothing to worry about.

    However… if the previous year your offense averaged a measly 16 points a game and had no downfield offense to stretch the defense, you don’t want to see them come out and get snuffed. The Ravens went to the AFC title game last year. The Skins simply have more to play for — and the truly alarming thing is how lackluster the play was from the guys who are on the bubble. Is it coaching? Team culture? What?

    You can argue, “No cause for alarm, we’re not as good as the Ravens.” Or you can argue, “No cause for alarm, no one thought this team would be better than 8-8.” Or you can argue, “No cause for alarm, we’ll work hard as hell to overcome the egregious errors — and we’ll hope Fat Albert can save us.”

    But you can’t argue that a team that looked that dispirited and hopeless — giving up 500 yards on defense and getting shut out on defense — isn’t a cause for alarm. This wasn’t just a loss. Not just a bad loss. This was an utter and complete dismantling.

    Let me give you some evidence (I sense you’re still confused): you cited the Lions going 4-0 as proof that the preseason means nothing. Let’s look at their 4-0 preseason:

    They beat the Giants 13-10 in a game that made Coughlin livid. But their only points by the Lions starters were 7 points on the opening drive that required two miracle plays by Kitna (incidentally, those were the last two miracles he had left in him).

    Then they beat the Bengals 27-10. But truck drivers and fry cooks wearing Lions uniforms scored 17 points in the 4th quarter to make it look so lopsided.

    Next they beat the Browns 26-6. In this game, the Lions did look good — but their starters only got two fields goals against a lousy Browns team.

    They ended the preseason beating the Bills 14-6. The Lions only managed 180 yards of offense in a game when both teams rested their starters.

    So don’t just read the scoreboard, Rich. Watch the games.

  7. Rich - Aug 16, 2009 at 7:00 PM

    I’m not confused and I fully understand what you’re saying. I just disagree with you. We will see how it plays out.

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