Don’t let announcers fool you; pre-season football games are important because our players get to hit someone else besides our own players. Drafted and undrafted rookies and new free agents need an opportunity to show how good they are in game situations. Our coaches need to screen all the 75 players to determine who will make the final cut down to 53.
We had about 6 penalties by halftime, and I know a perfectly thrown TD pass was dropped in the endzone, and I know ST, Special Teams coverage unit gave up a touchdown on a kick-return, and we can find negative things about the game, However, I am only really concerned with how our starting units did for the short time they were out there, I also believe when a team is down 20 points, we find out who gives up and who fights to the finish trying to come back and win.
Seven players rose to the challenge and showed me they should make the final 53 man squad. Rookie quarterback NATE SUDFELD completed 10 of 15 passes and proved GM Scot McCloughan was right in drafting him. MARTRELL SPAIGHT made at least 5 solo tackles, Injured last year, this Arkansas Razorback showed up to show why he was drafted. SU’A CRAVENS convinced me he can help our defense in any number of ways. ROBERT KELLEY and MACK BROWN were able to run the ball even though the three current starting running-backs (Matt Jones, Chris Thompson, Keith Marshall) could not. 8 rushes and ZERO yards won’t get it done.
Of course, the offensive line without Trent Williams and Kory Lichtensteiger was not the powerful 2.0 Hogs I believe we will see soon. GREG TOLER is one of the six players who showed me he needs to be on the 2016 Redskins, This cornerback has 8 years of veteran experience he brings to the table. Of course Josh Norman and Bashaud Breeland kept Falcons Ryan from completing a pass, zero for 5 attempts, several 3 and outs with 1st team defense. Quinton Dunbar had a bad day, but I think he will learn from the game film and Joe Barry and get better. My seventh player is ZIGGY HOOD. I like how he reads his keys and he will make our Front 7 even better.
Our O-Line Coach Bill Callahan is rock-solid. I’m positive by the time the regular season starts, our offensive line will be much improved over 2015 and the run blocking will be better. Our O-line in 2015 pass-protected very well but our offensive linemen thought they needed to snort some Purple Rhino or Deer Antler dust so they could dominate the line of scrimmage better when we tried to run the ball. Basically the same group is back, and I know another year experience together helps them execute better as a unit – however I believe we will see some different players at Left Guard, maybe Center. Remember, tight-ends also play a role in the running game with their timely blocks and Niles Paul went out and Jordan Reed didn’t play.
I take heat for my emphasis on the O-Line, but it is so important to be able to run the football as well as pass protect. I have confidence in quarterback Kirk Cousin’s golden arm, and our wide receivers and tight-ends, but we must be able to control the time-of-possession. We need balance to keep the other defenses guessing so we are not predictable. We must be able to run the ball in November and December and January, when the swirling winds and snow and ice and cold affects the passing game. HOGS get muddy, they like to get muddy, They like to play smash-mouth power football and knock their opponent into the mud, even like to take a handful of mud and slap it into their facemasks. I want to see our Offensive line push their defense back into the secondary, not get pushed back into our own quarterback.
We will see how much our O-line has progressed when we play our next Pre-season game vs the NY Jets, one of the better teams in 2015 in the AFC. They were upset by the Buffalo BIlls or they would have been in the playoffs also. They do have a strong, aggressive defense and I am curious if our O-line can do better run-blocking for our running-backs. Just remember, we have 30 days to work out the kinks, shake off the rust, evaluate all our players, get ready for the bumblebee looking Pittsburg Steelers. We begin our quest to win our Division and be in the playoffs. We have as good a chance as any team of going to the Super Bowl and winning it, HAIL.HTTR.
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