Washington Redskins vs. Buffalo Bills: Studs, Duds and Observations

Tom NataliCorrespondent IAugust 13, 2012

Washington Redskins vs. Buffalo Bills: Studs, Duds and Observations

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    It was nearly impossible not to excite myself last Thursday. As for the first time, I saw Robert Griffin III in a Washington Redskins uniform. I had to continue to remind myself of previous occurrences such as Steve Spurrier’s debut in Osaka, Japan or Tim Hightower’s preseason, something like that.

    That said, it was an overall sloppy game, which is expected considering it was the first contest with replacement referees. However, I was very impressed with the first-teamers.

    New Redskins shined in their debuts (Griffin and Garcon) and the defense looks ready to embark on a substantial improvement. Either way, I’m just glad football is back.

    Below are my studs, duds and other notes I took while watching the game multiple times. Enjoy.

Studs

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    Trent Williams was absolutely dominant, especially on the touchdown to Garcon. We are going to need that from him all season if the offense wants to become relevant.

    I know we’re all obsessing over Robert Griffin III, as we should, but overall, I thought he had a very impressive debut.

    He seemed comfortable in the offense and has already developed a rapport with the team’s most talented receiver: Pierre Garcon.

    As for Garcon, he’s faster than I remembered. He was signed to a hefty contract to make big plays, something the Redskins have seriously lacked.

    The bubble screen for a touchdown probably wouldn’t have happened last year with Santana Moss, Jabar Gaffney, Donte' Stallworth or Anthony Armstrong.

    The more I watch Josh Wilson, the more I like him. As mentioned before, he’s a very underrated cover corner. I noticed two crucial plays in which the former Terp jumped the route and prevented the first down.

    Chris Baker has been killing it in training camp and did the same against Buffalo. Nose tackles are never going to put up huge numbers statistically, but they are an integral part of the defense.

    Baker was a monster: Disrupting running plays, getting under the linemen’s pads and setting up his linebackers to make plays. If Baker continues, it will be hard not to find a way to play him.

    However, Baker has been dominating against the second- and third-stringers; let’s see how he does against starters this preseason.

Duds

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    Brandon Banks will have to learn how to be a productive receiver if he wants to make the team. The speedster had a lot of opportunities against the Bills and was overall a disappointment. Dropped catches, losing one-on-one battles and falling down were all occurrences.

    He’ll have three more games to prove himself, but right now I’d say he’s off the 53-man roster.

    Last year’s training camp hero, Jarvis Jenkins, hasn’t had the same production. He’s had a relatively quiet training camp and got blasted by offensive linemen in his first game back after a torn ACL.

    I’ll give Jenkins the benefit of the doubt; he hasn’t played in a year. He’ll need some time to shake off the cobwebs.

    Adam Gettis is going to need a year to develop, which is fine. Considering he was a late-round draft pick, it’s unrealistic to expect him to make huge strides in his rookie campaign.

    Well, Rex was Rex. Even his longest passing play wasn’t good. It was Josh Morgan who made a nice play out of it.

    In some aspects, the backup quarterback is always the most popular guy in town. In this case, as long as we never see Rex Grossman enter into a meaningful game, that would be great.

    I’ve read mixed results from Kirk Cousins. Personally, I thought he was struggling with his accuracy, which is a concern.

    That’s going to be improved with further development of chemistry between him and his receivers, but most likely Cousins will be the third on the depth chart for his rookie season.

    Other than that, he was able to command the huddle, and I liked his pocket presence. The more reps for Cousins, the better the team will be in the future.

First-Half Notes

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    I liked the pistol formation. I’m typically against any college-style alignment working in the NFL. For those that don’t know, the pistol formation is when the quarterback is lined up in the shotgun, but there is a running back behind him.

    The play resulted in a completed pass to Leonard Hankerson. What I liked about this the most is Kyle Shanahan. This formation showed everyone that the Redskins want to adapt the playbook around Robert Griffin III, which is vital to his success.

    Evan Royster was so-so. Obviously, the fumble on third down was not pretty. However, when he is given a little space and he has the ability to make cuts, that’s where he’s dangerous.

    Brandon Meriweather looked eager. The former Pro Bowler has a lot to prove after his fallout from New England.

    He had a dropped interception, but I was more impressed with his ability to read the quarterback.

    On the excellent catch by Buffalo’s tight end Scott Chandler, Meriweather laid him out. While that’s always fun to watch from a fan’s perspective, that style of play can cost your team a 15-yard penalty and a fine from the commissioner.

    Cedric Griffin is the first in line for the third cornerback role. In that case, DeAngelo Hall will move over to cover the slot receiver and the third corner will move over to the outside.

    Overall, I thought Griffin was inconsistent. It’s his job to lose, and without any other player substantially competing against him, Cedric Griffin could have a major role on the defense.

    I really like Rob Jackson. I like his relentless style of play. If Jim Haslett can find a way to put Kerrigan, Orakpo and Jackson all on the field at the same on pass-rushing situations, I’m completely for it.

    Don’t be surprised if Tom Compton gets some playing time this season. I thought he had a great first game, as he was frequently going up against Shawne Merriman. While I know he’s not the Merriman of old, still a pretty tough test for a sixth-round draft pick.

Second-Half Notes

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    Why does every No. 46 on the Redskins play the same? I remember watching Ryan Torain two years ago and I thought, “he reminds me a lot of Ladell Betts.” Now I watched rookie Alfred Morris and said the same exact thing.

    If I could add someone to my “studs” list, it would be Morris. He could potentially be that short-yardage back that will be needed.

    He was consistently falling forward and looked better than I expected. I wouldn’t be surprised if the team takes a similar strategy with Morris as they did with Evan Royster last year.

    That means we won’t see him for the rest of preseason, then stash him on the practice squad until the end of the year. They bring Morris in for a couple games and he goes for over 100 yards, thus tormenting fantasy football owners nationwide.

    Very impressed with Richard Crawford, liked him on defense and in punt returns. Even though I don’t think Crawford has that breakaway speed, I’m perfectly fine with picking up solid yardage in the return game.

    Liked his interception and overall coverage, if he continues this style of play, he’ll make the roster.

    Jordan Bernstine looks best at the strong safety position, and he appeared very comfortable playing against the run.

    Let’s just look at the rookie production from Thursday’s game (check meaning good): Robert Griffin—check; Josh LeRibeus—solid; Kirk Cousins—needs work; Keenan Robinson—solid; Adams Gettis—needs work; Alfred Morris—check; Tom Compton—check; Richard Crawford—check; Jordan Bernstine—check.

    Can I count Vince Young as a dud? What happened to that guy? He might be the worst Madden curse ever.

    Despite Chris Baker’s dominance, I thought Chris Neild was impressive, too. Mike Shanahan needs to find a way to keep both of those guys.

    Other than Rob Jackson, I liked the outside linebacker play from both Markus White and Chris Wilson, who will probably be competing for that final spot. Whoever performs better on special teams will end up making it.

    Lastly, I just want to mention how the overall depth on the defensive side of the ball really has improved. Especially on the front seven.

    Now I know that both safety positions are not what we hoped for, but let’s think about that for a second. How much worse is the team from last year? LaRon Landry was out most of the season, and when he played, he was never fully recovered. O.J. Atogwe was a complete bust. So that left the team with DeJon Gomes and Reed Doughty.

    Right now, Gomes and Doughty are getting beat out by two veterans—Madieu Williams and Brandon Meriweather. If anything, (even though I actually liked Gomes) this should be a steady improvement rather than a regression.