The third preseason game of the NFL is normally the best scale to gauge a team heading into the regular season
This is especially true for those squads that are looking to become a contender. Elite teams are expected to show little, but pick their times to explode. While bottom feeders are expected to be...expecting.
The Washington Redskins, as a team, are expecting to become a contender. Well, after one solid performance against the Indianapolis Colts Saturday, it is way too early to crown them an elite contender. The Redskins always play hard, leaving everything on the field. However, what the Redskins normally did on the field for the past few years was not always good on a consistent basis.
In their 30-17 victory over the Colts, the Redskins’ final score was not the most impressive feature of the game: It was the solid performance of their young talent.
The Redskins (2-1) expect to do well and be competitive but based off the nearly full dress rehearsal of the third preseason game (as well as the prior exhibition contests) can the Redskins be truly competitive?
“You always got expectations pretty quickly all the time,” said Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan, according to the team’s press release (via extreameskins.com). “If you don’t believe them, they don’t believe them. But you’ve got to go out there and do it. Time is cheap and you’ve just got to keep on getting better every day. And if we do that, then we’ve got a chance to do something.”
In the first game of the NFL preseason, the Redskins were shaky in their win over the Buffalo Bills, despite the decent outing from their rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III.
The second game against the Chicago Bears was a different story as the Monsters of the Midway haunted RG3 and the Redskins offense. On the other side of the ball, Washington's defense was flat, as they missed tackles and assignments.
Against the Colts, the Redskins put it all together, especially offensively. The running game was great, and RG3 was sharp, winning the first of many hoped-for duels against his NFL draft counterpart, Colts’ quarterback Andrew Luck.
“We did a lot of great things today,” said Redskins wide receiver Pierre Garcon. “We ran the ball well, threw the ball well, and got some yards both in the air and on the ground. We still have some things to clean up, but we did a good job out there today.”
The foundation of the Redskins offense will be their running game, as they grounded 147 total yards on 27 attempts. Nonetheless, the Redskins defense will be the backbone of the team. Washington surrendered 298 yards in the air, including Luck’s 151 yards and a touchdown.
Clearly, the defense was fueled by its youth, prospects who played fast and aggressive, giving fans a taste of what kind of players they could be during the regular season.
“We got a lot of talent on the defense, a lot of depth at every position,” said Redskin linebacker London Fletcher. “We got a lot of guys who can play football in the National Football League. Really we have the potential to be a top-five defense, but we are going to have to keep working at it. Each week, go out and execute the game plan and try to get better.”
The rebuilding Colts are not one of those NFL teams against which the Redskins could measure their progress. On the contrary, against a team the Redskins should beat, they did so by dominated Indianapolis. That may be a sign to show that this young team is ready to take off.
Game Notes: Washington Redskins vs. Indianapolis Colts
- The Redskins defeated the Colts, 30-17, at FedExField on Saturday in front of a sellout crowd of 60,047.
- With the win, the Redskins improved to 11-2 against the Colts in preseason games since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger.
- The win pushes the Redskins’ preseason winning streak against the Colts to six games.
- Shanahan is now 7-4 in preseason games with the Redskins.
- Shanahan improved his preseason record against the Colts to 3-1.
- Griffin III and Luck became the first rookie quarterback duo selected with the top two picks to face off in a preseason game since 1999, when Cleveland’s Tim Couch and Philadelphia’s Donovan McNabb faced each other.
- Griffin III completed 11-of-17 passes (64.7 percent) for 74 yards and a touchdown, finishing with a quarterback rating of 93.8. Through three preseason games, Griffin III has completed 20-of-31 passes (64.5 percent), 193 passing yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions for a passer rating of 103.3.
- Griffin III led the offense on touchdown drives of 66 and 80 yards on the team’s only two drives of the second quarter, recording five first downs on each drive.
- Rookie running back Alfred Morris rushed for the first touchdown of his preseason career, scoring on a 2-yard run in the second quarter.
- Morris finished the first half with 77 rushing yards on 12 carries. Redskin running backs posted at least 77 first-half rushing yards on three occasions last season (Tim Hightower, 83 yards vs. Arizona in Week 2; Hightower, 78 yards at Carolina in Week 7; Roy Helu, Jr., 80 vs. New England in Week 14).
- Morris eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark with his 13th carry of the day, gaining 24 yards on the play, a preseason long. The Redskins have had nine 100-yard individual rushing performances in regular season games during the Mike Shanahan era.
- Tight end Niles Paul returned the game’s opening kickoff 42 yards. Paul has one career kickoff return in regular season play, a 15-yard return against the San Francisco 49ers last November.
- Tight end Chris Cooley, who started the game at fullback, recorded his first catch of the preseason, gaining four yards on a pass from Griffin III.
- The Redskins stopped the Colts’ second drive by sacking Luck twice. Fletcher and linebacker Ryan Kerrigan combined for the first sack. Two plays later, defensive end Stephen Bowen sacked Luck for a loss of six yards on third down to force a punt.
- Running back Tim Hightower saw his first action since suffering a season-ending knee injury at Carolina in Week 7 last season. Hightower’s first carry since the injury was an 18-yard run that put the Redskins on the Colts’ five-yard line.
- Two plays following Hightower’s 18-yard run, Griffin III threw his second touchdown of the 2012 preseason, completing a five-yard touchdown pass to Santana Moss.
- The touchdown play was the culmination of a 12-play, 80-yard drive that lasted 6:18. The Redskins were tied for second in the NFL last season with 33 drives of 10 plays or more.
- The Redskins led at halftime, 14-7. Washington was 3-2 in 2011 when leading at the half.
- The first points of the second half came on a safety by Redskins linebacker Chris Wilson, who sacked Colts quarterback Chandler Harnish in the end zone on the Colts’ second drive of the third quarter. The Redskins’ last regular season safety was by Kedric Golston at Minnesota on Dec. 23, 2007.
- Quarterback Rex Grossman led the Redskins on a five-play, 52-yard touchdown drive that culminated with the first preseason touchdown reception of wide receiver Joshua Morgan’s tenure with the Redskins. Grossman was 4-for-4 for 49 yards on the drive, finding Morgan for a 13-yard touchdown.
- One drive later, Grossman was again 4-for-4, gaining 75 yards and finding wide receiver Dezmon Briscoe for a 12-yard touchdown. Grossman finished 8-for-8 passing for 127 yards with two touchdowns and a perfect passer rating of 158.3.
- The touchdown was the second of the preseason for Briscoe, who caught a fourth-quarter touchdown pass from quarterback Kirk Cousins at Chicago last week.