The Redskins’ preseason contest with the Browns was a very good one from a coaching perspective. There were some good moments and good performances and the Redskins were able to force an incompletion on a two-point conversion attempt with not time left to get the win.
But they did plenty wrong, more than enough to indicate that they aren’t yet ready to play in games that count, something they have to do in 19 days when they travel to play the Texans.
“We had four turnovers. We had some key penalties and some stopped drives,” said Jay Gruden. “We had second and goal at the two [yard line] and tried three runs in a row. I thought we moved the ball effectively but you have to finish drives and you have to protect the football. Part of my pre-game speech was about eliminating penalties and protecting the football. We did neither.”
Let’s look at some of the sins of commission and omission by the Redskins last night:
—The four turnovers consisted of three interceptions, one by each quarterback, and a fumble. The last one was charged to Robert Griffin III but it actually seemed to be more the fault of Alfred Morris, who couldn’t handle Griffin’s pitch on an inside run. That turnover and Griffin’s interception, which came when he attempted to get an out pass to DeSean Jackson without stepping into the throw, were the mot concerning giveaways.
—They had 11 penalties for an even 100 yards. Of Cleveland’s 20 first downs, six game via Redskins penalties. It should be noted that this game continued the league wide trend of a lot of laundry being on the fields this preseason. The Browns hit double digits with 11 flags and they also gift wrapped half a dozen first downs for the home team.
—The first-team offense didn’t finish any of its three drives with so much as a field goal. The first possession ended in Morris’ fumble, the second in Griffin’s interception. After Griffin and Andre Roberts connected to make the play of the day, a 49-yard bomb to the Cleveland eight, they couldn’t punch it into the end zone in six tries, including three from the one-yard line.
So, what can they do about it? Get back to work.
“We have to continue to monitor those things,” said Gruden. “That is a very important part of the game, penalties and turnovers. It can cost you a lot of football games if you are not careful. I have been preaching that and coaching that but we have to do a much better job as a staff. Our players have to be much more accountable when they have the ball, quarterbacks and runners.”
They have to get to work in a hurry. They have a quick turnaround before their final tune up for the regular season, their third preseason game in Baltimore on Saturday. That will be the last game action the starters and key reserves will see before the September 7 season opener.