The Washington Redskins Still Have Several Questions Unanswered

Craig Garrison SrSenior Analyst IAugust 29, 2008

For the Redskins, and Head Coach Jim Zorn, the final preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars did not go quite as planned.

Zorn had hoped to put together a successful series or two with his offensive starters on the field, "to get the bad taste out of their mouths" from last week's terrible performance. It didn't work out that way.

But that was not the only plan. Zorn and the rest of the Redskins' coaching staff also needed to get an answer to the most pressing question through out preseason: Which players do we keep?

Several players may have made these decisions easy, with solid performances, or with not-so-solid performances. Here are a few thoughts on the subject.

The battle for the backup spots at cornerback has been particularly intriguing. Rookies Justin Tryon and Matteral Richardson have stood out at times in each game.

Tryon has shown cover skills and physicality with strong tackling. But he has also shown an extreme inability to make a play on the ball and has been a target for many preseason quarterbacks. He also hasn't shown much on special teams, a very important point for backups. May not even make the practice squad.

Richardson has also shown decent cover skills and strong tackling, while giving up a few big plays. But he has also made several positive plays on defense. Of the several corners battling for position, this writer thinks Richardson has shown the most potential and has earned a roster spot.

Depth at linebacker has also been a key for the Redskins this preseason, and only one player has shown better-than-average ability. Signed late in training camp, Alfred Fincher has shown a nose for the ball like none of the other youngsters. He finished the preseason tied with Khary Campbell (almost guaranteed a roster spot) with the most tackles on the team. If this kid doesn't make it, there is something wrong with the Redskins.

A difficult position to call is the defensive line. Rookie Rob Jackson has played well, but he will likely be caught in a numbers game, with so many defensive ends on the roster with consensus high potential. Though Chris Wilson hasn't shown much this preseason, his play last year may play a major role in beating out Jackson for a roster spot. Surprises could come at defensive end.

At defensive tackle, there hasn't been any real competition to make the roster. Anthony Montgomery and Kedric Golston have been vying for the starting spot, opposite Cornelius Griffin, but neither are going anywhere. Ryan Boschetti and Lorenzo Alexander are likely the next two reserves with steady performances.

The age of the starting-offensive line has been well represented in the media, and finding quality, young depth has been one of the themes this preseason. The men that seemed to be ahead in the competition are likely still ahead.

Chad Rinehart, Andrew Crummey, and Tavares Washington have been solid for the most part, and each may have earned themselves a job. The only surprise here could be veteran Todd Wade. His injury early in the preseason may have cost him his job.

Fred Matua and Devin Clark stood out last night with poor performances, particularly in pass protection. They have worked their way off the roster.

At wide receiver, Anthony Mix was the incoming favorite to earn a sixth spot, if Zorn chose to carry six wideouts rather than a standard five. But Mix's injury, and strong play from Billy McMullen, may have derailed those hopes. McMullen has been largely consistent and deserves a shot.

Another big challenge for Zorn is what to do with Marcus Mason. Leading the NFL in rushing through the preseason, he deserves the opportunity to play and will likely get it from another team if the Redskins choose to attempt another practice-squad placement.

With three backs ahead of him, his best chance is for Zorn to decide to carry four running backs and forgo a backup at fullback. Odds are he stays a Redskin.

And then there is the punting competition between veteran Derrick Frost and rookie Durant Brooks. Neither punter has distanced himself from the other, with both having solid preseasons.

This may come down to which one kicker Shawn Suisham is more comfortable with as his holder on field goals. The rookie may simply have more "upside." With Frost's inconsistency being a known quantity, and showing itself again last night, Brooks stands a good chance of taking the spot.

A side note on Suisham: Did this guy undertake a new workout routine in the offseason? His kickoffs have been outstanding overall, with more kicks landing in the end zone this preseason than all of last year, which is very good to see.

And so the preseason ends. Zorn and the Redskins' staff have a lot of work to do before the season opener against the Super Bowl Champion New York Giants.

Zorn's offense has been far from stellar through the last three games of the preseason, causing some doubt to creep in for fans and those covering the team (and I'm sure, Zorn himself). Can they get it fixed in time?

With the defense being "soft" at times, can defensive coordinator Greg Blache get this team to achieve the success of his predecessor, Gregg Williams?

They're entering the regular season with still so many questions, but not many answers.