Redskins defense leads the way in first preseason win over Atlanta Falcons
The Redskins defense stepped up and limited the Atlanta Falcons for most of the night. They ended up notching their first win of the preseason thanks to their effort.
The Redskins defense carried the team to victory in the team’s third preseason game. Though the ‘Skins endured a streaky night from the offense that saw them notch only one touchdown, via a Samaje Perine run, the team’s defense and special teams performed very well and helped Washington emerge with a 19-7 win over the Atlanta Falcons.
In the first half, the Redskins had their ups and downs, but the defensive side of the ball saw them mostly endure ups. Thanks to solid performances from the heat-seeking missile, Landon Collins, and linebacker Jon Bostic, who proved to be a solid all-around player and was quick to the ball, and Cassanova McKinzy, two second-half sacks, the Falcons were unable to generate points. They got one touchdown, but that was largely due to a quick change in possession and the Falcons having a short field.
The Redskins appear to have a strong defense. They have playmakers and it seemed that every time they were on the field, they were swarming toward the ball. If they can keep playing well on that side of the ball, they will have a chance to win some games and carry the team.
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On offense in the first half, the team leaned heavily on second-year player Derrius Guice. He had gone more than a year between preseason action after he tore his ACL in the first game last year. Guice saw plenty of action in the first half, gaining 44 yards on 11 carries and showing burst, quickness, and elusiveness at the point of attack. That’s what the Redskins drafted him to provide.
Guice did have one minor negative: on two goal-line runs, he couldn’t get into the endzone. Of course, part of the responsibility there falls on his blocking. And he did eventually get into the endzone, but Ereck Flowers was called for a hold. So, this is more of a note than a concern. He should be able to score at the goal-line in the regular season.
Speaking of Flowers, he had a rough outing. He was routinely beaten in the passing game and while he blocked well on some running plays, he was guilty of that key redzone hold. He appears to be the starting left guard moving forward, but there will be growing pains as he continues to learn his new position.
As for the passing game, Case Keenum was once again solid but unspectacular. He had some really nice throws, including one to Cam Sims where he hit the receiver in stride in a small pocket of space to convert a 28-yard game. He was poised in the pocket for the most part and was able to lead a couple of efficient drives.
The only issue with Keenum came on his fumble (which was first ruled a pick but then was changed to a fumble). He was under pressure early on the play but instead of getting rid of the ball quickly or just protecting the ball for the sack, he dodged a defender and tried to make a play. The veteran needed to feel the pressure there and either throw it away or try to scramble forward. Instead, he tried to do a bit too much, waited a split second too long, and got hit as he threw. That resulted in the fumble.
Keenum still did enough to retain the advantage he has in the starting quarterback battle, going 9-of-14 for 101 yards. He should be an efficient starting option, especially if he can avoid the turnovers that plagued him last season.
Speaking of the quarterback battle, Dwayne Haskins played most of the second half for the Redskins and his results were much like Keenum’s. Solid, but unspectacular. Haskins had some nice throws, including a nice one to Kelvin Harmon from deep in his own zone. But he also had some misses, including an unforgivable one where he missed an open Steven Sims Jr. in the redzone. Haskins made the right read, but that throw is one that a franchise quarterback must make.
Haskins showed that he is still developing and growing. And his pocket presence was his biggest area of growth from Week 2 to Week 3, as he avoided sacks and turnovers for a good portion of the evening. But once again, while he may have flashed upside, he didn’t quite do enough to overtake Keenum, finishing 7-of-13 for 74 yards. Keenum has proven to be the more pro-ready option, so it looks like he will start the season as the top quarterback on the depth chart.
One final note: Samaje Perine looked like he belonged on the roster for the first time this preseason. The running back hadn’t performed well to start the preseason, but he finally did well against the Falcons. Perine looked quicker, more decisive, and displayed better vision against the Falcons defense. That should be enough to keep him on the roster as the fourth RB — if the Redskins decide to keep that many (which they likely will).