Robert Griffin III hands off to Chris Cooley in preseason game against Buffalo Bills. August 8, 2012 - Source: Rick Stewart/Getty Images North America via Zimbio.com
The Redskins won their preseason opener 7-6 against the Buffalo Bills last night. By now, every football fan should know that how the (first) team played is more important than the final score of exhibition games.
Redskins nation wake up happy this morning. Thanks, guys. HAIL— Anthony Brown (@SkinsHogHeaven) August 10, 2012
Redskins Hog Heaven listed six things to watch going into the contest. How did the Redskins do?
Williams vs. Williams never materialized the way I expected. The Bills did not line Mario Williams directly against Trent Williams. They flipped Mario against the right side of Washington's offensive line. With starting linemen Jammal Brown and Chris Chester out, that should have been a concern, especially with rookie Adam Gettis at right guard. That match-up favors Mario and strikes fear in the likes of me.
The Redskins handled it with scheme as much as anything. They ran to the right with players not named Robert Griffin III.
In the three series that Griffin III started, Washington ran Evan Royster eight times to Griffin's six pass attempts. Six rush attempts were to the right, where, on paper, the offensive line is weakest. Most of those attempts were for losses or for short gains and then Royster cracked it. Three of his rushes yielded 12-yard, 5-yard, and then 2-yard gains to set up Griffin's winning touchdown pass to Pierre Garçon.
Mario Williams was not a factor. In fact, he has no defensive stats to his credit. To keep perspective, both teams played generic schemes. Mario did not play a full quarter, so don't project this against DeMarcus Ware. But, it was an encouraging performance by the players and of the coaching staff's use of talent.
Somebody big and heavy stepped on LG Trent Williams' foot on the Redskins scoring play. He left the game after the play, as did all the starters. X-rays were negative, but Williams was still limping after the game. The training staff will be very conservative with Williams this week, but in regular season action, Williams would play hurt.
Washington's quarterbacks were not sacked during the game.
Safety at work - I couldn't tell much about safety play from TV angles. The final result is all we have to go by to judge the Redskins secondary. The Bills passing game was ineffective, but their own sloppiness was a self-inflicted wound. Brandon Meriweather tipped a Ryan Fitzpatrick pass to incompletion. DB Richard Crawford snagged an interception for a 16-yard return and he averaged 14 yards on punt returns. Keep that up and he makes the team. CB Jordan Bernstine made five tackles (3 solo). He plays as if he wants to stay here. CB Josh Wilson quietly went about his business.
I intend to subscribe to NFL All-22 for access to the coach's cam view on all the individual play of every player for moments like this. The NFL hid coach's cam from viewers like credit bureaus once withheld credit scores from borrowers and for much the same reason – an unwarranted fear that consumers would misuse the information. Credit bureaus wised up. Now they sell you your information about your score as a new revenue stream.
That detail helps consumers to be more informed borrowers. Credit bureaus found that the more they shared the scores with consumers, the more valuable the scores became to the bureaus. That will happen for the NFL, too. All-22 will lead to more informative fans and that can only be good for the league.
Pierre Garçon makes all the catches. Yes. Yes he did. The sample size is too small to project into the season, but Garçon's three catches of the four balls targeted to him is very encouraging. He was even better than that. RG3 gets all the accolades for his touchdown pass to Garçon, but that play was all Garçon. Griffin's toss was a bubble screen that Garçon caught behind the scrimmage line. Garçon made all the moves after the catch to close the 20-yard gap for the score.
I am not knocking RG3 by any means, but it is both unfair and inaccurate for national and local media to praise the quarterback for the play as much as they are. Success of that play is 99.9 percent on Garçon. Credit where it is due, people.
Garçon has a career history of catching less than 60 percent of balls thrown to him even when Peyton Manning was doing the throwing. Three series of the first preseason game does not wipe away the concern. However, Garçon showed us what Shanahan sees in him. We can only hope that continues.
RG3 sets his internal clock. Griffin 3rd projects an air of being three years older than his calendar age (22). Last night we saw that poise and cool-headed confidence on the field. RHH's hopes for Griffin were modest – be better than John Beck. Griffin's passer rating from last night's game was 145.8. Beck's rating from the October 30 Buffalo game was 53.6.
We did not see anything of the RG3 offense Mike Shanahan intends for real games. We did see that Griffin was more effective from the shotgun than under center. Three of his six attempts were from the shotgun; one was an incompletion, the other two were 12 and 20-yard completions to Leonard Hankerson and Garçon, two receivers that must do well this season.
Mario Williams said post game that the Bills focused on potential boot and read-option plays by Griffin. Sometimes they got out of their gap assignments. Fear of running quarterbacks is more effective than quarterbacks actually running. In real games, I expect Shanahan to run Griffin only enough to reinforce the fear. Like they say in those action movies, "Freeze, sucka'."
Shanahan showed us just a little. We loved it a lot.
Any back can run the ball. On TV, it looked as if Evan Royster had a better night than Roy Helu. On paper, Helu was better with a higher average yards per rush. Royster was going against the first team Bills defense with the intent of freezing the pass rush by establishing the run. Royster got the start, but he and Helu are interchangeable parts in this offense.
Alfred Morris had 15 second-half rush attempts, the most of any Redskins player. Some sports writers and talk radio fans rave about Morris' "lean" – his tendency to fall forward when tackled. See the comment above about All-22. When I have that, I can observe how that affects his play and his prospects to get off the team.
Tristan Davis opened the game as a kick-off returner and he had one carry for a three-yard loss. The sample size is too small to read anything into it.
I don't believe in Neil Rackers. I got nothin'. The sample size is too small. Graham Gano kicked the point after for Washington's lone touchdown. There were no field goal attempts.