Preseason game number two tonight for the Redskins at what is expected to be a soggy and stormy FedExField is not exactly ideal working conditions. However, there is still plenty to be decided and done for this team as they try to find the best 53. Here are my 4 things to look for against the Lions.
- The first team offense needs to put a good drive together and actually put one in the end zone. Last week they only scored 3 points in their brief appearance on the field. Alfred Morris ran the ball well last week behind the retooled offensive line, which is a good sign for a team that is talking about being run heavy this season. Robert Griffin III made some good throws and should have made a big one to Pierre Garcon that was dropped. Tonight they need to finish the drives off in the end zone. It would go a long way to silencing those that question whether or not the right guy is under center and it would also give something positive for RGIII to talk about this week instead of past interviews. It would also be nice to see Griffin get double-digit passing attempts in the game.
- When the first unit Defense is on the field they will need to bring the heat. To be fair, there was no Ryan Kerrigan or Junior Galette last week in Cleveland, but the Redskins defense failed to dial up any real heat on Josh McCown, who led the Browns on a 75-yard TD drive that was aided by a questionable pass interference call on Chris Culliver. It should also be noted the Skins were missing 3 of their top 4 cornerbacks as well. David Amerson is expected to return tonight and DeAngelo Hall is a game-time decision, but Bashaud Breeland will remain sidelined. That being said, no matter who is in the secondary, it is a “must” that the team has an improved pass rush in order to have any hope of becoming a good defense. They were just 21st in sacks a year ago. New defensive Coordinator Joe Barry has been stressing the need to create turnovers (they were just 25th in takeaways in 2014) and a good pass rush will go a long way in achieving that goal. They need to show more tonight.
Colt McCoy scrambles during the third quarter against the Browns on Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/David Richard)
- The Special teams needs to show some improvement, specifically the punt returners. Andre Roberts fumbled last week and Chris Thompson let the ball hit the ground on another return. Thompson did, however have a big kickoff return (yes they still have a few of those). The answer to the job may be rookie Jamison Crowder out of Duke, but he’ll be out again with a hamstring injury. Also worth watching on special teams is WR Rashad Ross, who’s only chance at making the roster is being a special teams standout. They need to find someone they can count on – or else there may be another ESPN980 on-air staff member that needs to think, “comeback.”
- The Quarterback Battle…as in, “Backup Quarterback Battle.” Tonight Colt McCoy – in what may not be ideal passing conditions – will get the majority of work, as he tries to make his case as the team’s #2. Cousins seemed to separate with his play last week, but there is still a lot of belief within the organization in McCoy. So he will get his chance to make his case, and this one could come down to the final week of the preseason. Cousins’ certainly has the stronger arm of the two and no fear about throwing it into tight windows (sometimes to his detriment). In contrast, McCoy seems to have a calm about him. He can make plays with his legs, and (as he showed everyone in Dallas last season) he has the ability to step up on the biggest stage when needed. Again, I believe this battle is far from over, despite Kirk’s strong opening statement.