Mark R. Bacon—Main Event Sports DC
Well, that definitely could’ve gone better. The Washington Redskins opened their preseason with a disappointing loss to the Cleveland Browns by a final score of 30-10. Of course, preseason results don’t matter, but the issues that were prevalent with the team could become concerns if they linger.
Notably, the Redskins saw some struggles on the offensive line. Dwayne Haskins showed some flashes, but ultimately had an up-and-down outing at best in his NFL preseason debut. And late in the game, the squad gave up a dagger special teams touchdown that really gave the impression that they had given up.
Cutting to the chase, it wasn’t a very fun game for Skins fans to watch.
Still, there were some standout performers in this contest. They were both of the good kind and the bad kind, but we’ll take a look at them nonetheless. Here’s a look at the major studs and duds from Washington’s first preseason game against the Browns.
CB Jimmy Moreland
This is a no-brainer. Moreland had been one of the Redskins’ most exciting players through camp. And on Thursday night, he showed the Skins faithful just why he has been receiving so much hype.
Moreland had a reputation as a ballhawk during his college days. That has translated directly to the NFL. Against the Browns, Moreland was able to log 6 tackles, 3 passes defensed, and 2 forced fumbles. He was all over the field and any time the team needed a play to be made, he was able to do it.
The two forced fumbles were particularly impressive. The first came on a fourth-and-goal from the one-yard line. Moreland recognized that the play was a run right off the bat, so he came down and attacked the ball head-on. The ball popped out and Cassanova McKinzy was able to scoop it up.
Moreland still has some areas to work on. He wasn’t perfect in coverage and he did get beaten at times. But, that’s to be expected of a player making the jump from the FCS level. And also, it’s clear that Moreland’s playmaking skills are there, so he could be used in certain packages when the team needs a game-changing play. Either way, it seems that he has locked down a role with the team.
We’ll see if Moreland can progress as the preseason goes along. But at the moment, it looks like he has the potential to be a versatile playmaker for the team’s secondary.
LT Geron Christian
Louisville alum Geron Christian was a third-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. He didn’t perform well in limited action as a rookie. While there was some hope that he could take the next step this year, much like Morgan Moses did between his first and second seasons, Christian hasn’t shown borscht yet.
And on Thursday night, it confirmed the suspicions of many. Christian hasn’t yet improved.
In live action on Thursday, Christian struggled immensely to block. When matched up against Cleveland’s star defensive end, Myles Garrett, Christian was thrown around like a rag doll and couldn’t do anything to slow Garrett’s momentum. He looked helpless on a player early in the first quarter and was forced to commit a holding penalty.
Throughout the rest of Christian’s evening, he didn’t do much to inspire confidence. The offensive line, in general, only helped the running backs to total 3.0 yards per carry and they allowed three sacks while putting Case Keenum and Dwayne Haskins under pressure for quite a bit of the evening. And part of that has to fall on Christian.
What we learned in this game is that Christian is no where close to being ready to replace Trent Williams on the left side. Neither is Donald Penn, who was slightly better than Christian, but he did struggle with a spin move as well. There has been talk about trading Williams and though it may be warranted if he truly won’t play here again, the team is simply going to see such a massive downgrade at the left tackle position.
Christian was supposed to be a part of the solution at left tackle. But instead, it’s looking more and more likely that the raw player needs more time to develop himself. And that’s not something the ‘Skins wanted to see on Thursday night.
WR Robert Davis
Last preseason, Davis was a popular pick to make the roster at receiver. That was until he suffered a brutal, season-ending knee injury.
Davis tore multiple ligaments on the outside of his right knee last offseason. And it was unclear whether or not he would be ready to go for training camp. However, he was able to get on the field and he has reinserted himself into the receiver battle.
And his performance on Thursday will go a long way to helping him have a chance to make the roster.
Davis was on the field early and showed really good deep chemistry with Case Keenum. The new Redskins quarterback looked Davis’ way on a couple of passes, and they were the best plays of the day for the Washington offense.
Of course, Davis’ 46-yard touchdown will get some attention, but that was the lesser of the two plays. There was a massive busted coverage on that score, so the Redskins and Davis got a bit lucky there. Still, he did show off his speed and recognition that he was wide open very quickly.
But as mentioned, the better play came on a pass that Davis didn’t even catch. Davis was running downfield and he had a half-a-step on his defender. Keenum was able to find him after a nifty blitz pickup from Samaje Perine and put the ball in the perfect place for Davis to grab it. However, Davis was interfered with and it ended up being a penalty. That said, Davis likely would’ve caught it had he been given the chance. So, that could’ve been another big game.
It’s now looking more and more likely that Washington will consider keeping Davis around, even if it comes at the extent of another receiver on the roster. We’ll soon see how the receiver battle shakes out and which players the team ends up keeping. But Davis was the top performer in that battle tonight.
LG Ereck Flowers
Yes, the offensive line was bad enough to have a few duds. And, as expected, Ereck Flowers was certainly one of them.
Flowers was signed this offseason and the team hoped to turn him into a quality guard. He had been a human turnstile at tackle but he still had the size and athleticism needed to make an impact on the interior, if he could develop.
As expected, that has been one big “if”.
Despite the move, Flowers struggled to block on Thursday night. He didn’t open up many lanes in the running game early on and also committed a holding penalty. He’s still not comfortable at the position through no fault of his own; the Redskins signed him to play guard, but due to the Williams holdout and Christian injury, they had to play him at tackle in camp. So, he is very late transitioning here, so there may be some extra growing pains.
Flowers still doesn’t look like a quality lineman and they’re running out of time to evaluate him. The problem, though, is that the team’s depth is so poor that they may not have many options that are better than him. And their lack of depth was on display all night with the poor performance of their backup lines.
If Flowers had flashed a bit of potential, that would’ve been one thing. But he just generally struggled and continued to look like a replacement-level player. If he’s the team’s day one starter at left guard, which is looking possible at this point in time, the position will continue to be a weakness for the squad.