Washington Redskins vs. Chicago Bears: What We Learned About the 'Skins
Eleven things we learned from the second preseason game for the Washington Redskins:
Robert Griffin III remains on the right track
It was a mixed bag for RG3. He was sacked three times and had a fumble, but the protection wasn't very good. A fumble is never excusable, but he was merely trying to escape and was blindsided. It wasn't as bad in reality as it was on paper.
He still looked poised in the pocket and rarely panicked. That he still completed five of his eight passes under that pressure is positive. His decision-making wasn't great, and 'Skins fans would prefer to see him take fewer hits, but it was the exact kind of performance you'd expect this early.
Oh, and we finally saw him take off a few times. As expected, he looked good as a runner, yet he only attempted to run when absolutely necessary. Good discipline.
Kirk Cousins could force the Shanahans to consider dumping Rex Grossman
There's no questioning Cousins' arm strength, but very few could have seen this coming. The rookie fourth-round pick was remarkably accurate and efficient against Chicago's second-teamers, posting a 154.1 passer rating.
He completed 18 of 23 passes, had three touchdowns and didn't get picked or sacked.
I highly doubt Mike and Kyle Shanahan would want to start the season with two rookie quarterbacks leading the depth chart, but if something were to happen to Griffin, I think right now I'd prefer to see Cousins, not Grossman.
They'll make room for Aldrick Robinson, and maybe even Dezmon Briscoe
I realize that four receiver spots are already locked up, which means that keeping Robinson and Briscoe would spell the end for Anthony Armstrong and Brandon Banks. But at this point, you can't deny Robinson, who was the best receiver on the field Saturday night.
Robinson was targeted seven times and made six catches for 104 yards to go along with a touchdown. We didn't see much of Armstrong, but he's had plenty of opportunities and hasn't delivered. Same goes for Banks, at least as a receiver.
Briscoe had 51 yards and a touchdown catch. He, Robinson and Niles Paul looked great against second- and third-teamers. I'd love to see them give it a go against first-teamers next weekend when the 'Skins host the Colts.
If I'm Shanahan, I'm letting Briscoe and Armstrong battle for the final roster spot.
Alfred Morris isn't going anywhere
The rookie sixth-round pick is still listed fourth on the depth chart, but he got the start against Chicago and once again ran aggressively and productively. He was bouncing off tackles and hitting holes hard on the first series of the game.
Morris was less effective as the game progressed. His last three carries were either for one yard or no gain. But the Bears' defense isn't shabby, and the guy's still green. I don't expect his average to be very high this year, but I do expect him to play a key role on offense. And keep in mind that the run blocking from a patchwork offensive line left a lot to be desired.
Tim Hightower and Roy Helu are hurt, but there's still a lot to be positive about when looking at the Washington backfield. Morris and Evan Royster both looked good Saturday night. The 'Skins have lots of options.
What the offensive line did against Buffalo wasn't a good indication of what was to come
It protected well and opened up some holes in the preseason opener, but the patchwork line struggled Saturday night. Griffin was under pressure far too often, and Morris was running into brick walls. Trent Williams didn't have his best game, and Adam Gettis, Josh LeRibeus and Tyler Polumbus delivered poor performances.
Gettis and LeRibeus have an excuse. They're rookies being thrown to the wolves because of injuries. Polumbus embarrassed himself.
The secondary has work to do
Griffin and Brandon Meriweather both had problems on Chicago's opening touchdown drive, while DeAngelo Hall was beaten twice and had a missed tackle on the final series of the first half.
The first-team run defense is in good shape
Even without London Fletcher, the 'Skins bottled up Matt Forte quite successfully. They gave up a few big gains later, and the tackling (or lack thereof) on Michael Bush's touchdown was a lowlight, but Chicago still didn't have a run all night that went for more than 10 yards.
The pass rush is going to be good
The 'Skins were pretty good at getting to the quarterback last year, but they should be even better this season. They got good pressure on Cutler, regardless of the fact they didn't sack him. Then they took Campbell down three times on 18 dropbacks.
Brian Orakpo left with a shoulder injury, but Ryan Kerrigan and Perry Riley stepped up with a sack each, and Jarvis Jenkins also notched one. It's encouraging that they still brought heat without Orakpo. Riley and Jenkins are wild cards this season, and both looked good.
The defense again failed to capitalize
It might get pressure and sacks, but this D continues to struggle at getting takeaways. It's an issue the unit had all last season, and it hasn't gone away. Redskins defenders dropped three would-be picks against the Bills, and Saturday night Josh Wilson had a terrible drop on a ball Cutler threw right at him.
Later, Richard Crawford made a great play on a pass breakup that also should have been an interception.
Brandon Banks is at least making things difficult for Mike Shanahan
Banks isn't good enough to make this team as a receiver, and Shanahan has said that'll be necessary if he wants to make the final 53. But he brought a punt back for a touchdown against Chicago. If no one else can step up on returns, Shanahan might have to consider finding a spot for Banks.
Kick return coverage could be something to watch
Chicago's Eric Weems had a 48-yard return in the first half, and Lorenzo Booker took one to the house from five yards inside his own end zone. Greg McCoy also had a 25-yard return, which is above average.
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