The Redskins opened the preseason with a 16-7 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers and followed that up with a 16-3 win over the Indianapolis Colts in Week 2. Those two performances have gradually revealed what the team’s identity may be when September 11th arrives.
1. What to take away from the game:
Expectations weren’t very high but the Redskins played solid football on both sides of the ball against another formidable team. Leading up to Friday night’s game, the Colts were 4-23 in preseason games since 2005 but to compare, the Steelers were 17-8 in that span. While preseason wins and losses are irrelevant (the Colts are proof of that), how the starters and important role players perform are the true indicator of a good offseason and where the team may be headed when the regular season arrives. The offense was strong in the first half but sputtered once the backups played in the second half. The defense was solid all around and only allowed three points the whole game.
2. Those who impressed:
John Beck – The moment everyone was waiting for came just after 7 p.m. when Beck took the field to start the game. He proceeded to help lead the offense down the field with the aid of a 58-yard Tim Hightower run on the opening drive. Unlike Rex Grossman’s opening drive against the Steelers, the Redskins were able to punch it in the endzone with a one-yard run from Hightower. Beck was accurate with his throws and ended up 14 for 17 on the night with 140 passing yards and an impressive 101.0 QB rating.
Offensive Line – Friday night marked the second straight week that the team was led by a dominant running attack. The Redskins again ruled the time of possession by controlling the ball for 36:29 to the Colts’ 23:31. A strong running game always helps an offense dictate the tempo of the game. Against Indianapolis, the Redskins totaled 225 yards on the ground and averaged 6.1 yards per carry. While pass protection was less proficient this week, the offense was still able to rack up 415 total yards.
Roy Helu – Last week, his horizontal running style left a little something to be desired but finished with solid numbers. This week, fans saw what the end result can be when it’s executed correctly. His patience while approaching the line of scrimmage paid off as he was able to make the most of the running lanes he was given. He ended the game with an outstanding 14 carries and 101 yards, a 7.2 yard per carry average. His biggest run of the game came on the second play of the second quarter. When a hole didn’t form, he just cut around the left side and up the sideline. After about five yards, he came close to stepping out of bounds but to the surprise of the Colts defense, he maintained balance and burst straight ahead for 51 yards.
Tim Hightower – The Richmond product continued where he left off last week and led yet another strong opening drive with his 58-yard burst on the second play of the game. Hightower capped off that drive with a one-yard touchdown run. He finished the game with six carries for 70 yards and in two games so far, has totaled 16 carries for 114 yards. The former Arizona Cardinal is really benefitting from Ryan Torain’s absence right now.
Terrence Austin – While Colts punter Pat McAfee was putting on a punting clinic, Austin made the most of his chances with an 11-yard average on four returns. He showed good vision on the returns and allowed blocks to develop ahead of him. He also contributed three catches for 29 yards. He was reliable when called upon just as he was against the Steelers and is playing hard to make the final roster.
3. Those who didn’t:
Red Zone Offense – Yet again, the Redskins offense started off with commanding first drives. This week, it actually led to a touchdown but it was the only one they could muster. Averaging one touchdown a game is not going to cut it when the regular season rolls around. While each position on offense is looking good so far, the unit as a whole has to improve its mentality and become more aggressive when it gets inside the 20.
Rex Grossman – Last week, Grossman shined in his starting opportunity. This week, he was not as mechanically sound or efficient in his backup role. He took too many risks and at times threw the ball into heavy coverage. Grossman threw an interception early in the fourth quarter that former Maryland Terrapin and current Colts linebacker Adrian Moten eyed all the way through. He only completed seven passes on 12 attempts for 88 yards.
Leonard Hankerson – The rookie out of “The U” had a key drop again this week but redeemed himself by ending the game with three catches for a team-leading 46 yards. His performance against Indianapolis was better than it was against Pittsburgh but until he proves he’s mentally ready to take the next step to be a talented NFL receiver and makes the catches he needs to make, he’s going to stay on this list.
Ryan Torain – It’s not like he wanted to break his hand in the middle of training camp but Torain’s inability to stay healthy and get on the field, along with Hightower’s high level of play, is diminishing his role on the team. We’ve seen what he can do when he does stay healthy but that doesn’t do the team any good when he’s on the sideline. If he can come back and play in the final two preseason games, expect him to run hard and show why he ended 2010 as the team’s starting running back. Let’s just hope he comes out unscathed.
4. Where do we go from here?
While it’s still preseason, it’s safe to say that both the offense and the defense appear to have much better chemistry than last season. As each game progresses, fans are getting a clearer picture of who is most likely to make the roster and what position battles are becoming more and more prominent. The most important battle is obviously for the starting quarterback position but other battles such as Austin vs. Brandon Banks, Hightower vs. Torain, and Kareem Moore vs. DeJon Gomes are worth watching. The Redskins travel to M&T Bank Stadium this Thursday night to take on the Baltimore Ravens on ESPN and will conclude the preseason against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers one week later at FedEx Field.
Edit: This blog was archived in May of 2016 from our original articles database.It was originally posted by Jake Russell