Zac Boyer will be entering his third season covering the Washington Redskins for The Free Lance-Star this fall. Make sure to follow Zac on Twitter (@ZacBoyer) for the latest updates or e-mail him with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Game Balls, Gassers and Observations: Redskins 16, Jets 11
My review of the best and worst performances from the Redskins’ 16-11 win over the New York Jets on Friday, plus some observations from reviewing the game film.
WR Joey Galloway: The masses should be a bit calmer about Galloway’s inclusion on the first team after he played a solid half, finishing with 29 yards on three catches. He got open on several different routes (20-yard hitch, intermediate cross) by getting in and out of his breaks well. He also showed that he can help get WR Santana Moss get open. He cleared a cornerback and a safety with a post route in the first quarter, allowing Moss to exploit a one-on-one mismatch with S Jim Leonhard for a 29-yard gain. The Jets respected Galloway’s ability to stretch the field. Moss didn’t have that complement last season.
LT Trent Williams: The rookie rebounded from a poor game against Baltimore and handled his responsibilities. I didn’t see him give up a single pressure in the passing game. He stuffed LB Jason Taylor on a first-quarter pass rush when the Jets blitzed seven. His feet were extremely quick in riding LB Calvin Pace past QB Rex Grossman on a 20-yard completion to WR Joey Galloway on the Redskins’ fourth series. He also made a powerful and effective lead block in space against LB Bart Scott on a Keiland Williams 5-yard run.
WR Anthony Armstrong: Disregarding a few run-blocking mishaps, Armstrong’s two tackles and two assists on special teams helped solidify his roster spot. He made a difficult third-down catch at the right sideline in the first quarter to move the chains. His aggression and hustle on kick and punt coverage adds more value to his total package. As for the run blocking, he was slow to block down on the left defensive lineman in the second quarter on first-and-10 from the Redskins’ 8, contributing to RB Keiland Williams’ 2-yard loss. Still, Armstrong helped his case for making the roster. If he’s not a lock already, he’s close.
CB DeAngelo Hall: Hall is thriving in the Redskins’ matchup zone. On his interception, Jets QB Mark Sanchez telegraphed his throw, and Hall read his eyes like a true play-making corner does. He was playing outside leverage, and he knew he had safety help over the middle, so he passed his receiver off to the inside and broke hard on TE Dustin Keller’s route to the right sideline.
OLB Chris Wilson: He was very active on defense. My problem with Wilson is that he usually looks good against second stringers but drops off significantly when facing starters. He did well against the Jets’ ones on Friday, though. He used a nasty left-handed slap against LT Damien Woody to free himself for a sack. He also made a quick cut off the left edge to get inside the trapping left guard and tackle RB LaDaianian Tomlinson for a 3-yard gain. I don’t envision Wilson playing his way into the starting lineup, but he’s a good situational guy during games and, obviously, a core special teamer.
WR Terrence Austin: Austin took advantage of Brandon Banks’ bad night. He patiently waited for his blockers on a 17-yard screen pass in the third quarter. He separated from the linebacker (mismatch alert) on a crossing route to convert a third-and-3. He made a decisive cut to get upfield on a 14-yard punt return, and he threw a nice block to spring Banks’ 20-yard screen play in the fourth quarter. Entering the game, I had Austin on the outside looking in on the receiver’s race. Now, I think he’s either even with or ahead of Banks.
RB Larry Johnson: Johnson ran for 42 yards on nine carries against the Jets reserves. If he had looked bad against second- and third-stringers, some red flags would have gone up. Instead, he showed a nice burst to the edge on an 18-yard cutback run. He made quality, aggressive pass blocks against LBs Bart Scott and Kenwin Cummings, and he scored a touchdown. Johnson lobbied coaches to play him late in the game, and it paid off. Now let’s see him do it against first-teamers.
C Casey Rabach (run blocking): I make the “run blocking” distinction because the entire first-string offensive line did very well in pass protection. But Rabach struggled to block effectively when moving laterally on the stretch runs to the left. Jets NT Kris Jenkins got to Rabach’s outside shoulder twice and stopped RB Willie Parker for no gain and a gain of 1, respectively.
WR/PR Brandon Banks: I went into Friday’s game thinking Banks was on the inside looking out regarding the final roster. After a bad game, though, his chances are diminished. He was stripped of the ball on a punt return, the one thing that he absolutely could not do. He also committed a senseless pass interference penalty on a deep ball in the fourth quarter. I believe Banks was trying to prevent an interception by pushing the defender from behind, but it shows that at 5-7, he isn’t confident in his ability to go up and fight for a ball. He also didn’t get separation from CB Antonio Cromartie on a fly route. The way I see it, he and Terrence Austin are fighting for the last receiver spot.
NT Ma’ake Kemoeatu: He was pushed back too often. Granted, he was going against Jets all-pro C Nick Mangold, but Kemoeatu has to at least anchor down and hold his ground for this run defense to be successful. He was pancaked on the Jets’ second offensive play, a 5-yard run. He was pushed back at least five yards on a running play on the Jets’ second series.
*RDE Albert Haynesworth’s performance was mixed, so he doesn’t land in either of the above categories. He’s obviously still getting used to moving laterally instead of vertically off the snap. On RB LaDainian Tomlinson’s 43-yard run in the first quarter, he got too far upfield on his first two steps, and because NT Ma’ake Kemoeatu slid left like he was supposed to, it created a running lane that Tomlinson exploited. One series later, Haynesworth was disciplined, moved to his left and tackled Tomlinson from the backside for no gain. He showed his power on the second series when he threw a lineman aside with his left hand and helped blow up a run in the backfield.
Technique is still an issue for Haynesworth, too. On the second play of the Jets’ fifth series, he turned his shoulder into the lineman off the snap—something defensive coordinator Jim Haslett doesn’t want him doing—and LT D’Brickashaw Ferguson cleared him out of the play, allowing Tomlinson to gain 15 yards. Haynesworth also rushed twice from a two-point stance. He appears to lose explosion and power when he does that. Ferguson was able to get under Haynesworth’s pads when he did it in the second half, and Haynesworth was a non-factor on the play.
*While we’re talking about LaDainian Tomlinson’s 43-yard run, note that SS LaRon Landry took a bad angle on him. A good one might have limited the gain to 10 or 15 yards. Landry has been better about that so far this preseason, but that problem isn’t behind him yet.
*Rather than re-hashing QB Rex Grossman’s performance here, here’s a link to the recap I did in Sunday morning’s paper. In short, some good, some bad, but at least he moved the offense against a stout defense. It should give coaches a little more confidence in him.
*The Redskins shored up their pass protection schemes this week after Baltimore exposed their five-man protections a week ago. Throughout the game, Washington kept a running back and a tight end in to try to combat the Jets’ blitz packages. It helped that the Redskins’ running backs did a good job in pass protection. RBs Willie Parker and Larry Johnson did as well as they ever have in practice or games for this team. RB Keiland Williams also had a quality pass block in the fourth quarter. I was particularly impressed by how physical Johnson was with his blocks. He was very aggressive and didn’t just absorb the contact.
*Jets RB Shonn Greene caught me off guard with his power. ILB London Fletcher doesn’t miss many tackles, but Green met him in the hole on the first series, got lower than Fletcher and drove him back for an 8-yard gain.
*LOLB Andre Carter continues to be susceptible to play action or misdirection inside. On New York’s first series, QB Mark Sanchez fooled him with a play fake and then rolled out right for a 10-yard completion after Carter lost his containment.
*Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett’s play design worked to perfection on LDE Adam Carriker’s first-quarter sack. LOLB Andre Carter rushed off the edge and pushed RT Damien Woody upfield. Meanwhile, Carriker blocked down on the right guard, creating a space in the B gap for ILB London Fletcher to blitz through. QB Mark Sanchez was forced to step up into Carriker, who made the sack.
*I noted that RT Jammal Brown was pushed back twice in the running game. I don’t believe any of the Redskins’ starting offensive linemen run blocked very well. RB Willie Parker was trying to say the right things after the game, but he obviously was frustrated at the lack of running room in his main showcase. I’ll have a separate, more detailed post on Parker’s night a bit later.
*Nice recovery by CB Phillip Buchanon to strip WR Santonio Holmes after being beaten on a slant. He turned a negative play into a positive.
*LOLB Lorenzo Alexander played his best game to date. Not enough to get a game ball, but it was a step forward. On third-and-2 in the third quarter, he ripped under starting RG Brandon Moore, forcing QB Mark Sanchez to tuck and run for a 1-yard gain. He also strung out a run to the right in the third quarter, enabling SS Tyrone Carter to tackle RB LaDainian Tomlinson for a 3-yard loss.
*DL Vonnie Holliday seems like a very good fit in his nickel role. He was strong enough to hold his ground on a double team in the third quarter and tackle QB Mark Sanchez a yard shy of the first down.
*FB Carey Davis was impressive as a lead blocker. Despite only practicing with the team three times leading up to the game, he appeared to know his assignments. He made a terrific combination block on a 6-yard gain around the left side, taking on two guys at different levels. It might be too late for him to make the team, but he could be a valuable backup to Mike Sellers.
*New SS Tyrone Carter was also active despite practicing for only a week. He hit RB Shonn Greene behind the line on the first play of the fourth quarter and later tackled RB LaDainian Tomlinson for a 3-yard loss. Carter probably makes the team because of Kareem Moore’s injury. Too bad he’s a natural strong safety because the Redskins already have LaRon Landry and Reed Doughty.
*LB H.B. Blades, like Haynesworth, was too up-and-down to land in either of the above categories. The good: He blitzed and hit QB Mark Sanchez in the second half. He ducked inside G Vladimir Ducasse to stop RB LaDainian Tomlinson for no gain. The bad: Tomlinson froze him at the point of attack on a big run in the first half. He also was beaten in coverage by the tight end twice.
*LB Perry Riley took a bad angle on TE Dustin Keller on Keller’s touchdown catch in the fourth quarter. Riley appeared as he did in the preseason opener against Buffalo—active but not always in the exactly correct spot.
*CB Justin Tryon badly missed a tackle on RB LaDainian Tomlinson’s first-down catch on a third-and-9. Tryon had a chance to hit Tomlinson five yards short of the sticks, but he just rolled at his feet. Poor.
*We saw how aggravated defensive players can get when they are cut blocked. RG Kory Lichtensteiger cut S James Ihedigbo on the backside of a run on third-and-23 in the fourth quarter. That’s about as meaningless a play as you’ll get. Ihedigbo got up screaming at Lichtensteiger.
*DE Jeremy Jarmon’s sack occurred when RG Vladimir Ducasse blocked out on the same defender that the left tackle did. Jarmon basically was unblocked.
…that’s it for now. I’m sure I missed something, so let me know. Leave a comment, shoot me an email or hit me on Twitter @Rich_Campbell.