Browsing all articles from August, 2009
Aug
27

Steelers vs. Skins Notes and Training Camp News

On Saturday night the Skins beat the Steelers, 17-13.  The starting offense scored a field goal with a Shaun Suisham chip shot while Chase Daniel threw two TD passes.  Here are some things I noticed from the second preseason game, broken down per unit:

Starting Offensive Unit-   The sky might not be falling after all.  The offensive line was impressive in their time on the field for the second consecutive preseason matchup.  While there probably has been less game-planning by their opponents, the Skins have faced two of the top defensive teams in the league and Campbell has yet to feel major pressure.  Not only that, but the Skins ground game was successful on their first drive.  Portis had 5 rushes for 26 yards (5.2 yards/carry) and Rock Cartwright had that sweet punt fake run as well.  The O-line appears to be “gelling” and with Heyer now solidifying the RT spot, the focus is now on who the backups will be.  Jason Reid of the Redskins Insider thinks big Mike Williams will be a backup this year for sure, but he hasn’t been in a preseason game yet, so I’m not so sure.

Starting Defensive Unit- Orakpo is going to be a freaking beast.  That’s all I can say about him that really summarizes his play.  He lifted a 304 lb. offensive lineman off the ground on one play while rushing Charlie Batch.  He consistently got to the Steelers backfield and was seen wherever the ball was.  I can’t wait to see him play (especially against the Cowboys) this season.  The whole defense played pretty well, including DeAngelo Hall (even with that bogus penalty for unnecessary roughness called on him on the first drive).  

Special Teams- The kicking position is still unsettled, but Dominique Dorsey had some shifty moves as a punt returner.  

Other units & Notes: Todd Collins looked great with the exception of an interception (which I think was actually Devin Thomas’ fault for not going after the ball on a slant route).  Collins has grasped the Zorn offense and played well enough in the two preseason games to be the No. 2 QB this year.  That’s it.  Game over for that spot.

Marcus Mason played well again, but he’s got to figure out the special teams thing so he can make this roster.  I really hope he does because he’s got great speed that the Skins could use as an alternating look between Betts and Portis.  Reed Doughty has been looking really solid, both in tackling and in coverage.  

Chase Daniel appears to be beating Colt Brennan right now for the final QB slot (I would say due to his play in these preseason games and not because of Colt’s out of control “swagger”).  Somehow Colt has taken a step back from last year’s amazing preseason performance, even with a year under Zorn and his system.  Watch for Colt to improve against the Patriots this week.  If he doesn’t, I don’t think he’s got much longer in Washington (again, hard to believe with how well he did last year, but Chase looked great when he scrambled and threw those two touchdowns).  

Marko Mitchell, the 7th round pick from Nevada looks like a stud.  He’s making plays every day in practice and so far, in every preseason game.  Chase Daniel and Mitchell was the connection for the second touchdown of the night for the Skins.  I honestly can’t remember  the last time the Redskins even attempted a lob/fade in the back of the endzone.  Seriously, when was the last time that even happened?  Michael Westbrook?  Alvin Harper?  Cerrato may have a serious knack for picking the 7th rounders that make an impact.  Mitchell will most likely not only make the roster but get some time this year.  Yeah, I said it.

Aug
16

"It's Just Preseason"

Yes, it’s just preseason.  That’s what I had to continually affirm to myself once the game started and the Skins were down 6-0 to the Ravens starters.  I had to keep telling myself that it was “just preseason” when we ended up losing 23-0 and weren’t in field goal range one freaking time.  As far as those top 5 things went, well, some of them we saw and some we did not.  Let’s do a quick recap…

5. Offensive Line Play- For the most part, the offensive line did pretty well, I guess.  There were no huge holes for the running backs but seeing as everyone this offseason is predicting Campbell’s decapitation by week 3, they didn’t do that bad.  In fact, Campbell said he was pleased with their play (Of course what’s he going to say?  He’s no Clinton Portis).

Campbell actually picked out Rinehart and said he was impressed with his play.

4. Just for kicks. This was probably the most frustrating thing of the whole night. We saw one kickoff, no field goals and clearly no PAT’s.  It’s going to be tough (again, though it shouldn’t be) for coaches to determine a winner of a kicking competition when nobody freaking kicks in the games.  Our offense the whole way through was completely incompetent, not even in field goal range at the end of a drive.  Fred Davis fumbled a way a possible scoring drive or two on his own.

3. Cult of Colt vs. Toddball- Round 1 goes to Todd Collins.  Colt had the majority of time against the Ravens but failed to impress like he did last year.  He actually looked pretty uncomfortable with the backup line play. I know there were a few times he had open receivers and opted to scramble for a 5 or 6 yard scramble instead of making the toss.  Here’s the statistical breakdown:

Todd Collins

8 for 11   70 yards      72.7% Comp.%      O TD  O INT                    Rating 89.2

Colt Brennan

4 for 12   43 yards    33.3 % Comp. %       O TD    1 INT                   Rating 10.1

Colt had 3 rushes for 13 yards as well.

Colt’s pick, I didn’t think was entirely his fault.  The receiver definitely could have caught it though it wasn’t placed perfectly.  Collins definitely seemed more comfortable than a year ago (though still looked skittish in the pocket).  I expect that Collins will get more time against the Steelers this week and we’ll probably see more of Chase Daniel as well.

2. Who’s going to be Z-Man’s Z Receiver? Statistics can do part of the talking here:

Kelly- 3 catches, 25 yards, long of 13

Thomas- 1 catch, 12 yards, long of 12

Honestly, I was just glad they played a whole game and didn’t break, rip, tear or pull anything.  But beyond that, I can see the optimism surrounding these guys.  They have great size and seem like if they start putting things together they can use some of their speed to really infuse some life into this offense.  Kelly had a great grab he plucked from the air on a slant route in the middle of the field.  But then he ran the route a bit short on another play costing the Skins a first down.  Thomas had a good play but also seemed to be out of place on a WR screen from Collins.  Right now?  Edge goes to Kelly.

Fred Davis had some good moments right before he fumbled it…twice

1. Orakpo’s debut- One of the only highlights of the night was seeing Orakpo blow by the Ravens O-line.  Yes, Michael Oher (the guy Baltimore picked in the first round that we could have had) played well.  But in this game he was a waning candle compared to the brightness of Orakpo’s debut.  Did not have a sack but showed good pursuit from end.  His impact at LB (which is probably more significant) was unnoticeable, which makes sense since he’s still learning that position.  Actually, the whole defensive line throughout the night played well consistently breaking through the Ravens line and hurrying throws of Flacco, Smith and Beck.

Other Skins highlights and low-lights

Hagans did little to impress Zorn in this game as a punt returning option.  At one point I think I caught Zorn telling Hagans after another fair catch, “Do you want this job as a punt returner for us??”

Jeremy Jarmon had a batted down pass and broke through the line a few times.  He had a great debut as a Skin and paired with Orakpo, I think Vinny could get a bunch of people off his back for a little while (unless the offensive line explodes like everyone is screaming it will).  Jarmon has great size and speed, looks like a real smart pick.

Our secondary secondary had a really really rough night.  Tryon got burned on every freaking slant route.  Theismann blamed it on size but I don’t think that was really the issue.  If Tryon was bigger and in the same place, the Ravens receivers would still have been burning him.  His position was off every time.  Barnes also had a bad night.  He got burned for a touchdown, not sure if he thought Doughty was there in support but he wasn’t.

Also, Betts was given a Bettis jersey for the night.  I hope this is the only thing in common we have with the Nationals this year.  The Papa Johns segment DURING THE GAME WAS RIDICULOUSLY LONG, too.

What were your thoughts about the game?  What do you expect to see from the Skins against the Steelers this week?

Aug
13

Top Five Things to Watch for in Skins v. Ravens

Thursday night is finally upon us and the Redskins will be matching up against their beltway non-conference, non-annually played, non-rival !  Even though this is just a preseason game.  It’s another step closer to the regular season.  There are many things that will need to happen for the Redskins to be successful this year, among them: Campbell’s growth in the Zorn offense, Haynesworth living up to his monstrous contract (though slightly lesser than T-Suggs contract with Baltimore) and how the offensive line protects Campbell.  Unfortunately, because it is the first preseason game you won’t see any of those things.  Campbell is likely to be in for one series, Haynesworth (along with other some other starters including Portis) aren’t playing, and the offensive line (Randy Thomas) will not be at full strength.  But, don’t you worry avid Redskins fan!  There is still plenty to watch and learn from tonight’s preseason matchup.

Here’s a run of our Top 5 things to watch for:

5. Offensive line play- Last year the Redskins selected Chad Rinehart (Left Tackle from Northern Iowa) with a third round draft pick and expectations were high for him to be a quality reserve for the offensive line.  It didn’t pan out that way, and he struggled to be effective last year when his number was called.  His explanation?  He was intimidated by the players he faced in the NFL and was stuck imitating others instead of playing “his game”. Injuries happen and have already started to swipe at the starting O-line, so Rinehart will most likely be called upon during the regular season.  Hopefully he will start reclaiming that swagger in the preseason to gear up for the rest of the year.

Of course Right Tackle is the biggest question mark on the O-line, so watch tonight how Heyer, Mike Williams and Bridges fare against a very challenging Ravens defense.  Although they won’t see the first team defense for long, the Ravens have consistently had one of the strongest defenses in the league the past decade and you don’t have that type of consistency without depth.  The race at who will start at RT starts tonight.

4. Just for Kicks- Shaun Suisham has a competition this year for his job at kicker (Thank goodness). Dave Rayner and Suisham will battle it out all preseason long, probably by switching up half’s of the game.  I am not sure this is really a competition, but I’d be shocked if Suisham wins it. Apparently he’s been spending time in the offseason working on things, so maybe he’ll come out and not be the league’s worst kicker. That’d be great.

Oh yeah, we also have a punter that (supposedly) is decent.  I’m actually looking forward to seeing our first punt tonight to see if Hunter Smith can help us forget about the whole Frost/Brooks fiasco from last year and the Plackemeir band-aid. Smith apparently has some pretty sweet sneaks too.

3. Cult of Colt vs. ToddBall Who will be the Number Two QB? One thing you can bet you’ll see this preseason is a heated position battle for the number 2 quarterback spot behind Campbell.  Colt Brennan had an incredible preseason last year going 36 for 53 for 411 yards 3 touchdowns and 0 interceptions (also leading all rookies with a QB rating of 109.9 in preseason games).  Todd Collins will most likely put up a good fight, with him also having the advantage of being in Zorn’s system for a second year.  Last year Collins seemed to be out of place while trying to adapt after being in Al Saunders style of offense for nearly a century.

2. Who’s going to be Z-Man’s Z Receiver? This is it, Devin Thomas vs. Malcolm Kelly. Can these second year receiver’s stay on the field and actually contribute this year? Thomas is starting tonight with the first team offense at the flanker position, opposite of Santana Moss.  But both Thomas and Kelly will receive major time tonight and will be challenged by the Ravens secondary.  Their success this pivotal to the success of Campbell.  Look for Campbell and Thomas to get comfortable with each other.  Some early chemistry building could go a long way if Thomas can stay healthy.

1. Orakpo’s debut.  Brian Orakpo was selected 13th in the first round by the Redskins this year and is going to be playing a mix of the SAM LB position (where Marcus Washington played) and Defensive End (where he wreaked havoc in college while playing for Texas). Orakpo’s been exceeding expectations throughout camp, impressing Samuels and Blache with both his natural talent and his quick learning of the defensive system. I don’t want to jinx anything but I think Orakpo could be a dominant force when paired with Haynesworth and Andre Carter.  Tonight we’ll be able to see Orakpo w/o Haynesworth’s help (hopefully not the case very often during the regular season).

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Also watch for these tonight: The competition for punt returner, Kevin Barnes’ debut, Marcus Mason’s last shot and Chase Daniel’s first time against NFL players.