The muffed kickoff did nothing to tarnish the first impression… the first drive ended in a punt from the 34, but the aura was undiminished… from that point on, our 1st and 2nd team offense, defense, even special teams exuded it…
In the first preseason game… At no point in this game was there any anxiety about what would happen next…. The team was efficient… effective… yes… Competent.
In the first preseason game, with a simple game plan on offense and defense, you could see it. The o-line came off the snap of the ball in unison, their moves choreographed, crisp, purposeful. I was astonished… these are the Redskins… they always look like slugs in preseason… If you were a receiver, there was a ball made available to you… If you were a running back, the holes were large, with blocks available at the second level…
Buffalo’s first drive was effective, but as the game moved along, the Redskins defense became increasingly confident. Their speed picked up. They were moving to the ball, making solid tackles, hitting their marks. Linebackers were running down hill, taking advantage of the excellent work being done on the d-line… mistakes were made, but immediately corrected. Field position was never a problem… and we ended up with a +2 turnover ratio.
Young players were showcased… Ryan Torrain, Kieland Williams, Brandon Banks, Anthony Armstrong, Perry Riley, and Lindy Holmes made strong arguments to make the team.
Recycled vets Rex Grossman, Roydell Williams, Bobby Wade and Adam Carriker all made plays. It was Carriker who provided the pressure that resulted in Hall’s pick.
It was clear that Chris Cooley already has a connection with Donovan McNabb… but McNabb also spread the ball around… as did Rex Grossman.
Competence. Simple, unadorned competence. A football team just doing things as a football team should do them…
How very comforting.
Yes, the Bills looked hapless… They have the look of a team going in the wrong direction. Perhaps not a strong test of competence… Worry not. Preseason tests are soon to come against the Ravens, Jets, and Cardinals, in that order.
No hapless teams in that bunch. There will be plenty of opportunity, both to challenge competence, and to improve as a team.
Yup, it’s still early, and yup, we’ve seen some strong performances in preseasons past… but on those occasions (such as the Summer of the Spurrier Illusion), the team was basically built to score points in preseason (by taking advantage of the other team’s lack of game planning… I mean, who game plans in preseason?), with tricks, and gimmicks galore… along with the unfortunate side effect of “rubbing it in” in a game that meant nothing.
This was different… this was simply a team that was looking to string plays together, and in the process, scored lots of points, most from within the red zone. They were not taking advantage of the normal preseason propensity to simply try to evaluate players, as Spurrier had done… Just trying to string plays together… as a competent West Coast Offense does… put together a long drive, and put it in the endzone at the end. It was a defense just trying to get off the field… as any competent defense does, and in the process, give the offense something to work with. Special teams saw 2 touchbacks on kickoffs, with 4 kickoffs into the endzone, and several punts returned for good yardage, including a 77 yard return for a touchdown. Competence.
Sure… there were a few misreads on pass routes. And, Rexy played chicken a couple of times, but that looks like growing pains. Should get straightened out…
The oft jilted Redskins fan in me says, we’ve been here before… only to have the rug pulled… but my head saw the performance on Friday evening, and saw something not witnessed since Gibbs 1…
Competence… during the first game of preseason… huh!
I’m still hedging… old habits are hard to break… but this could be the start of something special.