Washington Redskins: Best and Worst of Washington's Preseason
The Washington Redskins are sitting pretty with a 3-0 record so far this preseason, and there’s a lot to like about where they are at.
Their star quarterback is healthy, several guys who missed last year with injury are back, and they added a good amount of depth this offseason. They look good; the chemistry on offense is far better than it was last year, and the Redskins front seven has looked just plain mean.
Even with all these positives, there are still things that could have gone better this preseason for Washington. It’s more than just losing a couple of guys on defense; the Redskins made a couple of other decisions that may come back to haunt them down the road this season.
Best: Trusting Leonard Hankerson
Leonard Hankerson is a guy that a lot of Redskins fans have been rooting for since he was drafted, and for good reason.
He has great size and speed; he just drops the ball sometimes (physically and metaphorically). Whether the ball flies through his hands or he runs a bonehead route instead of the intended one, Hank’s made a mistake or two in his day. That being said, it looks like those days are gone.
Hankerson has been a tremendous weapon for Washington’s backup quarterbacks this preseason, and he could end up pushing for a starting spot sooner than later. If he keeps playing like he has been, then the sky is the limit for him in this offense.
Worst: Believing in Rex Grossman to Any Extent
It’s hard to believe that this guy was once called “Sexy Rexy”.
Cousins and RG3 have both shown that they are quality starters in this league, making Grossman expendable.
He hasn’t had a particularly good season since coming to Washington, and simply isn’t worth the roster spot anymore. Especially with a guy like Pat White behind him, there’s no good reason for Grossman to have played as much as he has this preseason.
The coaches know Rex, they know what he can and cannot do; White, however, is a bit of an experiment that could be rewarding down the road. Until this point, no one has really seen much of him in any sort of NFL action.
Now that he’s back in the league, it would’ve been prudent to give him some more reps with the second-string guys—and even the first-string guys—just to see what he’s capable of.
Best: The Renaissance of Pat White
Speaking of Pat White, the former Mountaineer has had headline-worthy play the past three weeks.
Before coming to the Redskins, White had never thrown a pass in the NFL and didn’t have very impressive rushing stats either. It’s pretty clear that he was somewhat misused in Miami.
While a head injury may have knocked him out of the league and into baseball, the Dolphins were trying to make a quarterback with a unique skill set into something he’s not. But, this isn’t about the Dolphins or the past. This is about now and how well White has been doing.
In comparison to Grossman, White is the much better option as a third-string quarterback. The offense seemed to sputter when Grossman was playing, but always picked up when White was in the game.
He’s been sharp through the air and on the run, and it’s been great seeing him on his journey back to the NFL.
Worst: Not Allowing RG3 to Knock off the Rust
I expect to get a good amount of flak for this.
Just to clear things up right off the bat, I do not think that Washington should have played RG3 a lot this preseason. For a guy who has been (at most) limited since the end of last season, it would’ve been a smart decision to give him a couple of tune-up drives this preseason. A couple of passes, a couple of handoffs— anything would’ve been fine.
To be excruciatingly clear, it’s not like Washington has been going about this the wrong way; it most certainly should be cautious with Griffin III, but this is just a little much.
Yes, it only takes one play for RG3 to Trent Green himself into missing the whole season, but he will likely need to get his bearings when he takes the field for the first time since January.
The team doesn’t want him to jump right back into things without being ready, and this is a part of that. It’s much better for him to have an embarrassingly small amount of playing time during the preseason than for him to make mistakes in the opener on Monday Night Football when the games really count.
Best: Lush Linebackers
It’s nice to have Orakpo back, but if he does get injured again (knock on wood) then Washington will be much better off this season than it was in 2012.
The Redskins drafted talented pass-rusher Brandon Jenkins in the fifth round of this year’s draft and also brought in Darryl Tapp from the division-rival Eagles, and both guys have performed well so far.
Worst: Still No Confident Answer at Kick Returner
There were a few question marks on the Washington roster heading into the preseason, and all of them seem to be answered, except for one.
Kick returners are, while not as important as quarterback or running back, guys who can greatly help or hurt their teams. Especially given Richard Crawford’s injury, Washington may struggle on returns to start the season until it finds someone good enough to be its full-time return man.
The Redskins have a few guys who could fill that void, but they don’t seem to be taking advantage of them as much as you’d expect. The first person many people would suggest is Aldrick Robinson; he’s small, fast and slippery, which are all ideal aspects of a returner.
For whatever reason, Robinson hasn’t gotten a whole lot of chances to return kicks this preseason, and with only one game left, you have to believe that this is a position the coaches had hoped to be sewn up by now.
Best: Helu the Highlight Reel
There’s no denying that Alfred Morris is “the guy” in Washington at the running back position, but he may not be carrying the load by himself for much longer.
One of the most pleasant surprises of Washington’s preseason has been third-year back Roy Helu. The Nebraska product was primed to the starter a few years back, but an unfortunate string of injuries and a guy named Al Mo took that opportunity from him. Now that he’s healthy, he’s looked dominant.
Helu’s even played like Morris at times; he’s shown great burst through the hole and has punished guys that try to bring him down. Washington has found the Robin to its Batman, and a two-back system should flourish in Shanahan’s zone-blocking scheme.
Worst: A Series of Unfortunate Injuries
The one thing that every team hates most is injuries. Especially since they hit Washington so hard last year, an injured player is the last thing the Redskins want heading into the regular-season opener.
The Redskins have lost a number of key players to injury, including DE Adam Carriker, CB Richard Crawford and S Phillip Thomas, just to name a few. Luckily, they have guys who should be able to step in and play well in relief of Carriker, but Crawford and Thomas will be harder to replace.
It’s not like they were starters, but they added much-needed depth to a weak secondary. Odds are that Washington will find a way to rebound from this and manage to do alright, but these guys will surely be missed.