Redskins Halftime Takeaways: Offensive woes continue early
By Ian Cummings
The Redskins did a little bit better this week. Emphasis on “little”.
The half did not start out well for the burgundy and gold. The first-team offense recorded three more three-and-outs before finally moving the chains. And the defense allowed both Aaron Rodgers and Brett Hundley to march downfield for touchdowns, committing penalties and missing coverages all along the way. Nevertheless, the Redskins are only down by four, and while their performance isn’t inspiring anyone, there is a lot of good to take from it.
In his very first action, Fabian Moreau did not disappoint. The rookie cornerback delivered a big hit on punt returner Trevor Davis, sending the ball flying. Niles Paul recovered in enemy territory, and the team got a field goal out of it. It wasn’t just a big tackle. It was a smart tackle. And on the next punt return, he again was the first man down the field, delivering a solid tackle. He’s also played with good coverage on defense. Moreau appears to be living up to his draft stock, and then some. He’s playing at a level well beyond his years.
It’s worth noting that Preston Smith finally got to the quarterback, taking down Brett Hundley for an eight-yard loss on the Packers’ second drive. He came in uncontested, but showed the hustle and drive coaches have been looking for. Now he just needs to start winning the battles on the line. Can’t be that hard… right?
Speaking of battles on the line, Jonathan Allen is winning them. All of them. He’s everything the Redskins hoped for so far. Although his stats might not reflect it, he’s always in the play, and he always finds a way to provide an impact. He had a solid tackle for a loss late in the first quarter, and with more time and more accumulated experience, he can do great things for this defense.
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For what it’s worth, Kirk Cousins got a lot of playing time in the first half. He didn’t look good, by any stretch of the imagination, but because he got the extra reps, it could simply be him getting the kinks out of his system. Only time will tell, but it’s clear Cousins can’t simply sit after one drive. He needs to get comfortable with his new weapons. He couldn’t even move the ball against the Packers’ second team defense. That alone is a cause for concern. He seemed to find his stride late, but it was against low tier competition. He needs to get better.
Phil Taylor looks more and more like the answer at nose tackle with every passing day. He recorded a monster sack on Brett Hundley late in the half. He provides a nice push down the middle, and he can do it all. With more time, he can get even better in the Redskins scheme. He’s the first true nose tackle the Redskins have had in quite some time.
Josh Doctson got his first catch of the preseason, a nice twelve yard gain for a first down late in the half. It’s good to see him finally healthy and contributing on the field once again. The team needs him to live up to his draft status this year.
Jamison Crowder came up clutch at the end of the half, snagging a four-yard touchdown pass from Cousins. It was against the Packers’ backups, but nonetheless, it was a step in the right direction, seeing the team deliver in a pressure situation.
The first team offense started out the game with yet another three-and-out. In their first five drives this preseason, the starters have five three-and-outs. This is an unwelcome trend for a team that relied on its offense a year ago. Whether its play calling or just simply rust, something needs to change before week one if the Redskins want more consistency. Cousins doesn’t just look rusty. He looks flat out bad. Timid, out of rhythm, and most certainly not worth $24 million. Robert Kelley can’t find running room. Far too much room for improvement.
The offensive line has been an alarming Achilles heel this preseason. So far, defenses have had their number, time and time again. Cousins hasn’t had consistent time to throw, and Kelley has nowhere to run whatsoever. For a unit that was shaping up to be one of the best in 2016, their fall from grace has been sudden and troubling. They need to get on the same page soon, or else their Hogs 2.0 moniker will be little more than a laughable and painful memory.
Penalties continue to plague the Redskins. The team had initially forced Aaron Rodgers and Co. to a three-and-out, but Stacy McGee was called for a being the 12th man on the field, thus giving the Packers a first down. Chris Carter was also called for a personal foul that resulted in a first down on the same drive. The Redskins need to refine their play if they want to compete in 2017.
We have good news! It appears that the fade is finally back in FedEx field. And we also have some… bad news. Aaron Rodgers was the one who threw the fade. To cap off a fifteen-play touchdown drive, Rodgers threw it up to Martellus Bennett, who easily beat Zach Brown in coverage. It was a series of events all too familiar for a defense that can’t find its way off the field.
The starters played the entire first half on offense. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It gives them valuable experience. But it’s essentially a slap on the wrist from the coaching staff. Everyone on the offense looked bad. There were no exceptions. They were going to stay out until they got it right. And they eventually did, albeit a little late.
Next: Redskins Live Game Blog: Preseason week two
The biggest takeaway from the Redskins’ first half against the Packers is this: The offense continues to struggle. It’s a troubling sight, but hopefully, it’s simply rust, and not indicative of a larger problem that could last into the regular season. It’s a close one in Landover! Be sure to keep up with the game’s developments with our Redskins Live Game Blog!