NE @ Washington Preseason Preview: A Significant Insignificant Game

Ed SheahinCorrespondent IAugust 27, 2009

FOXBORO, MA - AUGUST 20:  Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots feels the pressure of Keith Rivers #55 of the Cincinnati Bengals at Gillette Stadium on August 20, 2009 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Preseason is preseason! Generally, success or lack of for any team means very little.

Former Redskins coach Joe Gibbs won two Super Bowls after finishing the preseason without a victory, while the 0-16 Detroit Lions won four preseason games in 2008.


However, if you look very closely at the game within the game, it is not difficult to pick up hints of team’s strengths and weaknesses heading in to the start of a season.


In his first game back from a season-ending knee injury in nearly a year, Tom Brady looked like...well, Tom Brady against the Eagles.


Brady completed 10 of 15 passes for 100 yards and two touchdown passes to tight end Chris Baker.


In the Patriots second preseason game against the Bengals at home, Brady and the offense looked out of sync in a lackluster 7-6 loss.


On the 13 snaps Brady played, he was hit by Bengal defenders on four of them. Patriots coach Bill Belichick wisely removed Brady early in the game, as the Bengals defensive speed appeared to catch the Patriots by surprise.


As for Jason Campbell and the Washington Redskins, let’s just say his play during the preseason has been dismissed as being the preseason.


Campbell has looked hesitant and off target in two brief appearances.


Having entered the season as the unwanted step child the Redskins settled for as a result of failing to land an alternative, Campbell’s confidence has been reeling since last November.


So, here we are in the third preseason game, a matchup between two playoff caliber teams with question marks.


Both Campbell and Brady are expected to play the first half, as will most starters on both sides of the ball.


Belichick and the Patriots offensive line will find out exactly where they stand heading in to the season as they face a revamped vaunted Redskins pass rush.


Rookie LB/DE Brian Orakpo and DT Albert Haynesworth will test the Patriots pass protection.


If given free shots at Brady like the Bengals had last week, back-up Kevin O’Connell may have to perform his best Matt Cassel imitation in 2009.


On the other side, Campbell doesn’t need to be great against a stingy Patriots defense, he just needs to be good.


He has to show signs of life and provide the Redskins faithful with some hope that he can be productive.


What does productive mean? Campbell has to lead two or three scoring drives of which one has to come via the pass.


Another touchdown shut-out performance by a Campbell led offense may convert many of his supporters into a Todd Collins fan.


Outside the significance of quarterback play in this insignificant contest are concerns for both teams that fans should watch for.


As bad as the Patriots offense looked against the Bengals, the prideful Belichick is expected to turn the heat up this week and he will demand perfection.


Easier said than done, but expect the Patriots to expose the Redskins weaknesses rather than focus on evaluating their players in certain situations.


It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Brady and the offense run a 4- or 5-wide receiver set against the Redskins most of the game.


The Redskins will be without starting CB Carlos Rogers (calf) and reserve CBs Justin Tryon and rookie Kevin Barnes have been a step behind most of camp.


Brady only needs three seconds to hit his receivers in stride, and if the Patriots offensive line can provide that protection Brady should pick apart a thin Redskins secondary.


The Redskins will look to do the same against a revamped Patriots secondary that includes former Redskin S Shawn Springs.


Although the Patriots have plenty of young talent in their defensive backfield, Belichick likes to leave his DB’s on an island by sending multiple players on blitzes.


Campbell will have his shots to strike gold over the top, if hesitant as he has shown, it could get ugly and the boo-birds will sing at Fed-Ex Field.


A nationally televised game, expect to see an entertaining battle (for a half anyway) with both teams achieving offensively what they needed to accomplish entering the contest.