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The good, the bad, and the ugly from Redskins vs. Browns

Aug 14, 2015, 2:30 PM EDT


Earlier today we looked at the individual players who had rising and falling stock in the wake of last night’s preseason game in Cleveland. Keeping in mind that it can be dangerous to project regular seasons performance based on these games, let’s step back and look at the big picture and see what aspects of the game were good, bad, and ugly.

The good

A clean game: The Redskins had just three penalties for 45 yards. Thirty five of those penalty yards came on one play, a pass interference call on Chris Culliver that perhaps should not have been called; in any case, it would have been hard to avoid. Kirk Cousins had to burn one time out to prevent a delay of game but overall it looked like the team was ready to play.

The rushing defense: Browns running back coach Wilbert Montgomery said earlier that it didn’t look like any of their backs wanted to take the job as the main running back. It sure looked like it last night as Johnny Manziel was the Browns’ leading rusher with 14 yards. The Redskins gave the tailbacks very little running room as the combined to rush for just 27 yards.

Pass protection: The various offensive line combinations allowed just one sack. This also showed that the quarterbacks were doing a good job getting rid of the ball and that the running backs and tight ends help up as well.

Third down defense: Cleveland was held to three of 13 first-down conversions, a 23 percent rate.

The bad

Special teams: There was no pop in the return game from Andre Roberts or anyone who lined up to return a kickoff or punt. Chris Thompson muffed one punt and looked uncomfortable fielding some others. Roberts turned it over once when he coughed up the ball on a return. That set up a Browns touchdown.

Kickoffs: Yes, I know they are part of special teams but they need to get singled out here. The Browns kicked off four times and three of those resulted in touchbacks. Washington had a total of 32 kickoff return yards. The Redskins kicked off five times with no touchbacks and they gave up 143 yards in returns. If they repeat that 111-yard differential in a regular season game it could well turn a possible win into a loss.

Turnovers: The Redskins lost two fumbles and Akeem Davis picked of a Browns pass. A minus-one in turnover ratio also could be a fatal flaw in a close game. The Redskins needs to force more takeaways.

The ugly

Injuries: An NFL team gets better by collecting players like Niles Paul. Losing him for the season hurts. Perhaps they can replace the production but not the special teams play and leadership that Paul showed. And even though Silas Redd was on the roster bubble he was very popular among his teammates. But that’s the way it goes and the Redskins aren’t expecting to receive any sympathy cards from the other 31 NFL teams.

  1. mr.moneylover - Aug 14, 2015 at 2:54 PM

    Agree with the special teams…it was flat out bad..its time to get rid of andre roberts what he did can cost a team to lose I dont care about how he look going up against a college player who won’t be in the league by fall…the reason why both of the browns QBs raned in for a touchdown because trent Murphy lost contain on his side of the field I seriously doubt that would have happen if junior G. And Ryan Kerrigan in the game….the D-line did push the browns o-line back but no help from the pass rushers to make the QB step up in the pocket when the backups came in they made johnny football step up in the pocket a few times and got sacked…I love chris culliver physical play and mindset after that bad call was made on him…D-hall looked like hes been out of football for awhile but he should be cool by the time season comes…O-line look better then last year didnt see them get push back 5 to 10 yards like last year…theres some good things they did hopefully they can build on that and keep building

    • Trey Gregory - Aug 14, 2015 at 5:16 PM

      I’m sure you’re not the first to say it, but the first I’ve seen say that about DHall. I agree, he looked beyond rusty a couple times last night. But it did seem more like something that can be shaken off and not that he’s necessarily done. I’m hoping he can step it up for the regular season too.

      Special teams was awful. No way around that. I’m all for sitting Roberts in favor of Grant and Crowder. But people keep saying to cut Roberts. That would barely benefit this team financially and he’s still a plenty decent backup option. He even had his moments last night with Cousins in the game.

      I personally thought the Dline looked pretty good all damn game. Even without Kerrigan and Gilette. I understand your point about Murphy, but I thought he had a good game overall. He could still turn into a very solid rotational player. I was also very impressed with Preston Smith, this being his first game and all. He want playing against the big dogs for most of the game, but he looked dominate out there. That was nice to see. There were young guys stepping up and making plays all over the defense. I’m hoping that shows the change in mentality and that continues throughout the season.

      I too thought the OLine looked pretty decent. Even the 2nd string guys. But I was mainly watching Moses and Scherff. I thought they did pretty, pretty Ok for this being their first game together. There’s obvious room for improvement but I was pleased. Run game looked pretty good to me.

      I’m pretty satisfied with the QBs too. Nothing spectacular, but I thought RG3 looked a lot better than this time last year. He got the ball out better, actually stepped into the pocket instead of scrambling when there was pressure, made better decesions. He had some obvious accuracy inconsistency, but it’s progress and tha makes me happy.
      I can’t get too high in Cousins right now because this is what eh always does. Looks like Joe Montana off the bench or in meaningless games only to fall apart later. I noticed him and RG3 staring down receivers a couple times, the coaches better get that out of their damn heads if we’re going to have a decent QB this year. But I just can’t get too excited about Cousins looking decent against the Browns 2nd and 3rd stringers. Especially when RG3 didn’t do anything to make me scream. He wasn’t great by any stretch, but I still want him starting at the moment.

      • bangkokben - Aug 14, 2015 at 6:30 PM

        Agree about Hall and Roberts. DeAngelo will get the rust knocked off and anyone wanting Roberts cut is reacting out of a place of emotion.

        • skinfan66 - Aug 15, 2015 at 2:34 AM

          Agree about Roberts. Can’t cut him, yet. He’s a decent receiver, when he holds on to the ball. Return game on the other hand, needs to be handed off to someone else. Roberts reminds me of Antwan Randle El. You know, runs about 30 yards east and west but only 4-5 north and south. I know they offered Roberts the return game because they turned around and signed DJax almost immediately after signing him and he went from #2 receiver to #3 receiver. And, now you have Grant on his heels. But sorry Roberts, if you can’t get the job done, you’ll just have to cash your big checks as a receiver only.

        • bangkokben - Aug 15, 2015 at 11:01 AM

          You bringing up Jackson, reminds me of that fact that Antonio Brown, Julian Edleman, Randle Cobb, and Odell Beckham Jr. lined up as punt returner at least 20 times last year. It didn’t seem to limit their production either.

    • mr.moneylover - Aug 14, 2015 at 5:57 PM

      Theres good things to take away from the game rg3 didnt hold on to the ball for a long time he could’ve had over 100 yards and a TD if p.garcon wouldve held on to the ball…from first string players to third string players they only gave up 1 sack the whole game and the running game was unstoppable…I still question nacho coverage ability he was suppose to pick up his player but was reading the QB eyes and lost containment on the guy he was suppose to pick up witch gave browns they first TD

      • bangkokben - Aug 14, 2015 at 6:27 PM

        There were guy in on that TD play that won’t likely see a down during the regular season. Seeing Bates and Spencer with the first units had me scratching my head.

    • redskinsnameisheretostay - Aug 14, 2015 at 10:38 PM

      You have one quick trigger finger when it comes to cutting players. Two already that I recall that most likely will be primary players on offense. Also how you blame Trent Murphy on the first TD is beyond anything I can even imagine. He actually had instant penetration but was clipped on the side by a second offensive linemen. If anything Trent on that first down cause the QB to adjust his play. It was the remaining line on that play that gave McCown the time to find the WR on the other side of the back end zone.

      • Trey Gregory - Aug 15, 2015 at 3:49 AM

        I thought Murphy looked pretty good on that play too. The linemen took out his legs, he couldn’t do anything about that. McCown probably should have been taken down by the second effort, but that wasn’t on Murphy. McCown also just made a good play, I’m not going to roast the Dline for that. I think Ihenacho could have been much better on that play, but everyone else looked pretty good.
        I was honestly surprised to get on and see some of the negative comments about Murphy. The guy wasn’t Jouston Houston out there, but I thought he had a solid outing. Especially seeing as how he was probably the most dangerous OLB we had out there and the team could focus on him instead of Kerrigan if they wanted. I am very encouraged about out OLBs after seeing the performances of Smith and Murphy last night.

  2. RussianBreadMaker - Aug 14, 2015 at 4:09 PM

    In the kickoffs section, you called the Browns the Bills.

    • Trey Gregory - Aug 14, 2015 at 5:22 PM

      Some of you guys have no idea how hard it is to consistently pump out quality content without errors. You guys are worse than the students when I used to work at the college paper. Yeah, it’s a lot easier to see when you’re just reading one article in your leasure. But when you’re writing and editing a ton of stories on a deadline, things get past you. It happens. You all knew what Rich meant. The guy does a fantastic job on this site. Just appreciate that.

      Also, people who live in glass houses… I have a journalism degree and edit professionally and plenty of people make mistakes in the comment section all the time, myself included. Because they happen, even when we’re not writing for a deadline. It’s just really frustrating to see people take a guy to task over silly stuff when they do as good a job as Rich does.

  3. ET - Aug 14, 2015 at 4:20 PM

    Over the course of an entire season, the lack of touchbacks will loom large. Needs to be fixed, as does the state of our own return game. Hopefully Mr. Crowder can help with that.

    • bangkokben - Aug 14, 2015 at 6:44 PM

      Crowder can kick, too? Hooray. Jamison will fix all that ails us.

      • ET - Aug 14, 2015 at 8:29 PM


  4. jonevans511 - Aug 14, 2015 at 4:43 PM

    You used two question marks and there is a space in between “free” and “!”. I’m not so sure you’d make the best proofreader considering your call-out comment contained a couple errors.

    In this age of instant communication, you’re going to have things like this. Get over it. People are under time crunches to get posts out and while yes, it is frustrating when you see errors time and again, this isn’t the New York Times or Washington Post. It’s a blog. Take it for what it is and either continue supporting his site or don’t. Your call.

    • hk2000 - Aug 14, 2015 at 6:31 PM

      I agree. He also said “You’re a writer for the Redskins and we should striving for excellence….” many errors there, but he’s at least partially right about the numerous errors on this blog, which I guess is OK unless it’s a glaring error in the title which always drives me nuts.

    • bangkokben - Aug 14, 2015 at 6:37 PM

      Surely you’re not implying that those two publications don’t make spelling errors. Point agreed with, btw. As for The Post, when the online content was free and I was cut and pasting Tandler’s articles onto their blog, there was a guy with dorky glasses that couldn’t spell is name correctly – at least so it seemed. So we all called him Jasno. I have occasionally called Tandler, Rick, but it was completely by accident. At least that’s the story I’m sticking with.

      • bangkokben - Aug 14, 2015 at 6:43 PM

        I just spelled “his” with the Cockney phonetic version: ‘is.’ This, of course, was completely intentional. I also apologize in advance to whomever may be offended for my use of ‘Cockney’ since it was originally intended as a pejorative – unlike the word Redskin which became a pejorative at one point in our country’s history.

      • Trey Gregory - Aug 14, 2015 at 6:50 PM

        Every major publication has errors in it. It’s just magnified online because people actually have a way to comment on it and it doesn’t disappear after a day. How’s the content? That’s all I care about, unless there’s just a ton of blatant errors to make me think the author doesn’t care. Mistakes happen and it would be fun to watch all the people who give writers crap try to do it on a deadline themselves. Rich consistently does a good job and provides solid content for us. People need to get over the rest.

        • bangkokben - Aug 14, 2015 at 6:55 PM

          I completely agree. My point is that Rich is heads and tails better than Jason LaCanfora ever was in both content and errors.

        • ET - Aug 14, 2015 at 8:55 PM

          Absolutely. I was an editor in a past life, and it’s really difficult to keep mistakes down on a tight timeline. Mr. Tandler generally does a good job, and he doesn’t have an editorial staff behind him here—unlike the writers at ESPN or WaPo, who make plenty of mistakes as well.

  5. brucefan1 - Aug 14, 2015 at 4:46 PM

    No doubt RT will find it a compliment to know that we, his readers, are paying such are paying such CLOSE attention to every word of his reports! 😀

  6. brucefan1 - Aug 14, 2015 at 5:08 PM

    Special teams did seem like problem 1 to me too. Kinda surprising since finding the type of players who take pride in playing teams reportedly been such a high priority for a Scott McCloughan team.

    But then, as others here have said, the problems have been mainly the lack of depth of the kickoffs (we all saw how deep the Bills kicked them!), and the lack of a dynamic returner. (But with Crowdwer, the second problem MAY be easier to correct than the first.)

    Overall though, I was satisfied with the team’s performance for a first preseason game. Fwiw, the Skins’ yardage & time of possession stats far outstripped the Browns ‘in all categories.

    The return fumble by Roberts and that busted play where McCown scrambled around for HOURS before finding a wide open receiver in the corner really hurt., and should never happen.

    (Speaking of McCowan, the defense allowed him to look so good at times that the Browns announcers were besides themselves with glee; “We’ve found our quarterback!!” I HATE having to watch the opponents’ TV broadcast of preseason games on NFL Net! LOL)

    • Trey Gregory - Aug 14, 2015 at 5:27 PM

      Good points. I completely forgot about McCown being able to hit Benjamin wide open in the end zone. Complete BS. Everyone who thinks our safety problem is fixed or was rooting for Ihenacho over Johnson, that was your boy who blew that. The entire damn team but when McCown pump faked to his left. Ihenacho didn’t need to too. He should have stayed with his guy.

      But I agree that the team looked decent overall with the exception of special teams. Injuries don’t help us there. Scot hasn’t had enough time to infuse the roster with a ton of depth and those types of players. So, one injury has a domino affect. They take players from soecial teams. I really hope that was nerves or something because we can’t do that. And we MUST find a way to get more touch backs. It’s insane.

    • bangkokben - Aug 14, 2015 at 6:53 PM

      My panic meter on special team is super low. Every preseason guys are hodge-podged together to form the various units. There will be guys that specifically don’t make the team due to their special teams mistakes. Glad to see Kai connect from 52 last night but a simple solution to the kick-off woes: find somebody that can kick touchbacks every single time. Then get that guy working on onside kicks and base your return teams on guys that recover onside kicks.

      As for McCown, this is three seasons in a row that he has looked good against us. I’m sure if Kerrigan and Galette are playing he throws one incompletion.

      • ET - Aug 14, 2015 at 8:45 PM

        Your panic meter is set to “super low” after the past two seasons of historically bad special teams play? I get your point about ST being a hodgepodge, but that holds true for every team. Special teams has f#cked over both the offense and the defense in the past few years with chronically poor field position—never mind the touchdowns given up, penalties given, or major momentum swings.

        I am certainly hopeful that some of the young bucks like Spaight, Spencer and Jarrett will help re-energize the unit, but they still need to prove themselves, no doubt.

        • bangkokben - Aug 15, 2015 at 10:45 AM

          I realize that ‘teams’ has been that ugly boil on this bottom of a team for the past few years. Still, until we see who is on the final 53, I can’t get worked up about the results in preseason good or bad. How many TDs did Brandon Banks have in the preseason? The guys covering kicks on both sides of the ball during preseason are for the most part in other professions during the season. No unit is intact. As for the big return the other night. Evan Spencer had a chance to make a diving tackle at the 10. Then he got up off the ground, chasing the runner, hurdling his own teammates and make another diving attempt at the runner’s ankles at the 40 (quite impressive hustle), causing the runner to stumble slowing him down for Highsmith’s tackle some 17 yards later. Maybe, just maybe, with the ten other guys who will be starting on teams come game 1, that same kick off results in a tackle inside the twenty.

  7. hk2000 - Aug 14, 2015 at 6:46 PM

    In preseason, the take-a-ways should always focus on the first quarter or two IMO, therefore, my take-a-way is that both first team defense and pass protection leave a lot to be desired. So, The good: Our back ups are much better than the Browns back ups, The bad: 1st team defense and offense need a lot of work, and the ugly: That goes equally to special teams and coaching. I hope the coach is heeding his own advice to the players and is using the preseason as a learning experience for himself as well.

    • bangkokben - Aug 14, 2015 at 7:09 PM

      I get your rationale and see it as fine ‘rule of thumb,’ but let’s look at the defense and specifically how they stopped the run. Did they give up any long drives? The PI against Culliver was probably a fair call but could have easily been swallowed. D. Hall could have made a tackle – I think on third down. The TD was also on third down. For the first preseason game with no starting OLBs, I’ll take the result. As for the pass pro, not sure what the complaint is, it seemed to be adequate. As for the coaching, I’m pissed that the first offense only played two series. I wanted to see more of the right side of the line in pass pro and the starting QB throw more passes other than that can’t see how it was ugly but I know that’ the drum you like to bang.

      • hk2000 - Aug 15, 2015 at 12:32 AM

        Yeah, I’m really not upset with the DBs- all things considered, but the pass rush is still not there. Coaching? I don’t know, maybe the Gruden hater in me, but it seemed to me the play calling changed and the strategy changed drastically as soon as cousins got in the game. Then again, that maybe the result of the 2nd teams balance shifting in our favor. We’ll have to wait and see… I want to see creativity from the coach.

  8. gonavybeatarmy - Aug 14, 2015 at 6:59 PM

    5 KO and zero touchbacks in perfect weather conditions is absurd. It’s very hard to win NFL games, and the compounding effect of this throughout a regular season game is just very hard to overcome. I guess the good news is that the Skins will rarely KO five times in a game this season. Well, maybe if the Skins win a game 12-10.

    Griffin was unimpressive. It’s really hard to believe that he’s entering his 4th season and the expectation bar for him is so low. #KnowYourWhy

    • redskinsnameisheretostay - Aug 14, 2015 at 11:35 PM

      3 seasons that include a blown ACL/MCL and major coaching changes which include a rookie head coach last season. So what low expectation bar are you talking about? You act as if there has been no adversity brought on by this organization during those three years. Here it is in preseason game one with just a few series and you seem to want to write him off? Now, that’s hard to believe!

      There were few issues with his performances in this game. What little play time he had, he demonstrated improvements in the pocket. Also, that dropped pass by Garcon undermined the progression in RG3’s reads that froze the safety. The rollout pass to Grant as he was being hit was a great display of his athleticism and accuracy. So he needs work on the fade pass. Maybe you are expecting Peyton Manning by now? Oh yeah that QB took over 7 years before he had a QB rating of over 100.

  9. gurnblanstonreturns - Aug 14, 2015 at 7:22 PM

    Griffin cannot play. The long throw to Garcon was late and inaccurate. Watch the isolation video on Garcon. He had to adjust his route and twist his body to get to the ball. He will make that catch nearly 100% of the time, but the throw was terrible. If the ball was thrown inside the numbers, Garcon walks in for the TD. This would be just one play, but Griffin has done this over and over. He must hold the NFL record for fewest TDs on passes ovfer r40 yds due to holding the ball and inaccuracy.

    Otherwise, Griffin completed two short outs, a no-gain to the fullback, a decent 22-yarder, ignored two open receivers to run on a 3rd down, followed the Garcon misfire with a wild, high and inside out to end that drive, threw pathetic back-to-back, red zone fades to Garcon after Morris converted the 4th down and took a bunch of hits. McCloughan long ago recognized that the Griffin situation has to play out on the field, but the conclusion is clear.

    Griffin cannot play.

    • brucefan1 - Aug 14, 2015 at 7:35 PM

      I think the above screen name can alternatively be “walterwhitereturns”. ;^}

    • redskinsnameisheretostay - Aug 14, 2015 at 11:03 PM

      At this point you don’t appear to be a fan and I can since you are just trolling this board. You repeat the same nonsense from another page. Yes RG3 could have thrown it more accurately but it was plenty accurate enough for a college WR to have taking it in on the touchdown. Also moderate level of knowledge of the game would prove it was not a delayed pass. RG3 used his progression to stymie the safety. He stepped back and looked to towards the center of the field but then moved his progression to the left where Darrell Young was heading towards the sideline. It was that second read that kept the safety back and then he looked back center and unloaded. It was a great play by a QB that many elite QBs make.

      • gurnblanstonreturns - Aug 15, 2015 at 1:00 AM

        Nope, just a Skins fan pointing out the unpleasant truth – Griffin can’t play. And I am certainly hopeful that the coaches are not evaluating the film with your “moderate level of knowledge of the game” at Redskin Park.

        • Trey Gregory - Aug 15, 2015 at 3:39 AM

          Man, he’s right, you just sound like a hater or a troll. You’re insisting RG3 can’t play but he wasn’t even on the field long enough to determine that one way or the other. Two series isn’t going to tell us a whole lot. I dont know that he’s going to be great this year and you don’t know that he can’t play. But if you’re being fair about what you actually saw, then you can’t say RG3 flat out can’t play. He looked ok. Not awful but not terrific. He sure looks a lot better than last year. We could all sit here and pick apart his decesions, but I think he did just fine. There’s plenty of guys around here who will watch film and discuss it with you. Everyone has the right to disagree about some of it too. But you obviously just saw what you wanted to there. Because he guy wasn’t terrible. He’s showing plenty of potential. You sound like a hater because you’re ignoring that and just keep repeating that he can’t play.

  10. brucefan1 - Aug 14, 2015 at 7:31 PM

    True what you say about the relative importance of what the starters do compared to the backups — but it would be a mistake to shortchange the importance of the fact the Skins second and third teams appeared superior to Cleveland’s. It would be real nice to know that the quality Skins’ backups may be improving

    (Sorry about harping on the Browns announcers again, but they were crowing early on about the great depth that their team was developing. Not so much by the end of the game, tho, after the Redskins’ backups had aquitted themselves. LOL)

    The two tough losses to injuries last night just reinforce the undeniable fact that EVERYBODY on every team is probably going to need to perform at some point in the season. The scourge of injuries is the NFL’s biggest blight, imho.

    Only those teams who can combat it with satisfactory substitutes (aka, “the next man up”) can hope to win what eventually becomes a war of attrition. There’s no doubt that one of McCloughan’s main goals is to find and developed them. But it may take time.

    • brucefan1 - Aug 14, 2015 at 7:41 PM

      Oops! This comment was to be a “reply” — to hk2000’s comment posted at 6:46!!

      Kinda outta context otherwise.

  11. Johnny B. - Aug 14, 2015 at 7:57 PM

    My opinion is that they got the wrong coach if they wanted to keep RG3. It will take at least 2 more years for Robert to become a decent pocket passer. So either get rid of Gruden and find a Coach willing to work with Griffin. Or trade Griffin and put in Cousins and give him a complete year. Archives

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