Initial Thoughts: Ravens 23, Redskins 3
Apparently, a preseason football game was played tonight before Albert Haynesworth spoke to reporters. I managed to catch some of it. Here’s what I’m thinking after the Redskins’ 23-3 loss to Baltimore:
*First, let’s address the Haynesworth comments. Is it disingenuous for the guy to complain about the team not disclosing his full diagnosis after he refuses to talk to reporters all week? Probably. If he thinks the team is making him look bad, what’s stopping him from setting the record straight himself? Perhaps he’s made an agreement with the team not to talk to media during the week. Perhaps he’s just trying to stay quiet and not give the team any grounds on which to pursue reclaiming the bonus money paid to him. I’m trying to find an answer that makes sense.
It seems, though, that he doesn’t get it. His interests (playing with the first string, making plays) would be best served by practicing and playing hard and making himself valuable to the team. Instead, he’s not always utilizing the technique
Unfortunately, tonight’s interview was cut off before Haynesworth was asked whether he still wants to play here. His relationship with Shanahan is somewhere between rotten and non-existent. Shanahan is intent on winning this power struggle, if you can call it that. I guess I should say he’s determined to exert his authority. I don’t see this ending in a trade, though, unless another team loses a big-time defensive lineman and suddenly needs to deal. Something will have to give because this can’t continue into the regular season. It’s too big of a distraction and a detriment. Haynesworth’s comments tonight simply stoked the flames.
*Now, let’s move on. This is a reality check that the Redskins had coming. After a relatively easy training camp, they ran into a Baltimore defense that punched them in the mouth. Baltimore blitzed a lot for a preseason game, and they exposed the Redskins’ offensive line. It’s a bit dangerous to draw definitive conclusions because the Redskins didn’t gameplan for this one, and they’re still running a vanilla playbook on both sides. Still the difference between a very good team and a not-so-good team was evident.
*RB Larry Johnson fell flat. He simply didn’t produce. Now, before you go saying RB Keiland Williams should be higher on the depth chart than Johnson, remember that Johnson faced a good Baltimore defense and Williams ran well against lowly Buffalo. Still, Johnson didn’t look spry. He never got going downhill. It didn’t help that the offensive line appeared to be beaten on a lot of his runs. I’ll go to the film and watch to be sure.
Johnson wasn’t particularly good as a pass blocker, but he wasn’t horrid. I noted that he made nice blocks twice on the first series. On the intentional grounding call late in the second quarter, a screen pass to the right was called. Several players on the offensive line released into the flat, and Johnson was had to chip some blitzers in order to keep the play alive. He said tonight that those blitzers are not his responsibility on the play. It looked as if Johnson failed in pass protection on the play, but it was poor execution all around.
*WR Anthony Armstrong helped himself big-time. What I took away from tonight’s game is that he is very good at adjusting to an imperfect pass. He slowed down and slid for McNabb’s deep ball on the 45-yard completion in the first quarter. Later, McNabb threw behind him on a slant pattern, and Armstrong reached back and hauled in the pass. Armstrong could be one of three guys fighting for the last WR spot. If cuts were tomorrow, I say he’s on the team.
*QB Donovan McNabb got a small taste of the harassment Jason Campbell faced last season, and he responded OK. McNabb made a nice throw on the run to TE Chris Cooley. He sensed pressure from the backside and made a play.
That said, McNabb was wild with this throws. He threw a pick, and there should have been another. We saw the training-camp McNabb tonight. That’s not a good thing.
*It’s not the end of the world if FS Kareem Moore is out for an extended period, which could be the case because of his sprained MCL. I’m not totally sold on Moore. He’s inexperienced and unproven. That’s not to say he won’t do a good job. I’m just saying there are bigger dropoffs at other positions than the dropoff from Moore to Chris Horton or Moore to Reed Doughty.
*Baltimore LB Terrell Suggs made LT Trent Williams look like a rookie. Williams said he thought he did fairly well against Suggs, but I think the tape is gonna tell a different story. I’m eager to review it because Williams has looked really, really good so far. This can only help him.
*SS LaRon Landry played really well. He led the Redskins with eight tackles. I thought he should have gotten credit for a forced fumble, too. (DeAngelo Hall got it.) Landry was flying around and hitting people. He even made a play in coverage against a tight end.
*Don’t ask me to tell you what WR Joey Galloway has done to merit being listed on the depth chart with the first string. I’m not sure I can give you an answer. He was a ghost tonight and hardly played. He wasn’t targeted. I know he’s old and that coaches are looking to evaluate other players, but he hasn’t exactly torn up practice, either.
*I’ve got to watch the film to gauge the quality of the Redskins’ tackling overall. My initial impression: average.
*K Graham Gano’s missed 47-yard field goal is a concern. If he has to make a 40-plus-yard kick in the final seconds to determine whether the outcome is a win or a loss, how much confidence would you have in him? He seems like a 50-50 proposition to me.
*For as good as QB Rex Grossman looked last week, he looked as bad tonight. His interception was baffling. I’m not sure why he tried to force that ball to the sideline on the run. Sometimes it seems like he takes chances that don’t match up well with his arm strength. His fumbles were bad, but the offensive line gets some of the blame for that.
*CB Justin Tryon did well to break up a potential TD pass. He also stripped a wide receiver of the ball. I thought it was a fumble, but the refs blew the play dead before the ball came out. He helped his cause tonight, even if it was against third stringers.
*The Ravens were able to move the ball with short, quick passes to the outside. It’s exactly what Buffalo did last week. It seemed that the Ravens took advantage of LB Brian Orakpo’s pass rushes. When he vacated space, they attacked it. We’ll have to stay tuned to see if that’s a formula other teams use.
…that’s it for now. I’ve got to hit the road and get home. I’ll watch the film tomorrow and post Game Balls and Gassers. In the meantime, let me know your thoughts here, in an email or on Twitter. Hit me at @Rich_Campbell.