Preseason games aren’t supposed to matter too much, but for the Redskins, their third one against the Ravens this Saturday means quite a bit.
Overall, their first two contests, against Cleveland and Detroit, haven’t given supporters much of a reason to have any hope for the 2015 campaign. However, in the NFL, things can change in a hurry, as one strong performance can perk up even the most downtrodden of fan bases.
With that being said, here are five things that, if they happen in Baltimore, will give players, coaches and fans alike a little spark a few weeks ahead of Week 1. After their last few days, the Redskins could certainly use one.
Robert Griffin III shows some semblance of being able to play quarterback:
This is the easiest point, but also the one that would go the longest way in restoring some faith in the crowd of Burgundy and Gold fans. More than anything in the world, even more than having Chipotle call me and tell me I’ve won a lifetime supply of free steak bowls, I’d like to see Griffin come out and control the offense. That would mean not taking any sacks and completing the tough passes. By that, I don’t mean shallow crosses and checkdowns. Instead, I want to see him hit on a 15-yard out route or a 30-yard pass up the seam. Anything that would give him and the first-team offense as a whole some confidence heading into the opener against Miami is what I want to see most.
UPDATE - Well, scratch that.The Redskins revealed Friday night that Griffin went from being medically cleared to not. Suddenly this becomes a huge opportunity for Kirk Cousins.
A forced turnover from the defense:
With things on the other side of the ball not going well, the 2015 Redskins will likely rely a lot on their defense when the games begin to count. But while the unit has looked solid so far in preseason, they haven’t come up with a big play. Seeing pricey free agent pick up Chris Culliver intercept a Joe Flacco pass, or one of the young pass rushers come up with a strip- sack, would certainly be encouraging, because nothing is better for a struggling offense than a short field.
Jordan Reed plays well -- and stays healthy:
There’s no understating how much of a difference Reed makes when on the field for his team’s offense. Like any of the Saw movies, Reed gives opposing defensive coordinators nightmares with his ability to line up everywhere. He’s been practicing this week for the first time in a while and should be ready to play Saturday, so it’s paramount that he comes out against Baltimore, hauls in a few passes from his quarterback, takes some hits, and makes it through the game fully healthy.
Jamison Crowder flashes like he’s done all summer:
Along with Matt Jones, rookie receiver Jamison Crowder has drawn effusive praise from all who have watched him. And after sitting out the Cleveland and Detroit matchups with a hamstring problem, it looks like he’s finally ready to make his debut versus the Ravens. I’ll certainly be watching him when he splits out wide or lines up in the slot, but I’m more curious to see what he does on special teams, too. The return unit has been iffy thus far, but the shifty Crowder could make a huge difference there starting Saturday night.
Someone shows that they can fill Junior Galette’s shoes:
It looked like the Ravens game would be Galette’s first as a Redskin, but after suffering a torn Achilles on Wednesday, there are now questions as to whether he’ll ever play for the team. Now, it’s up to Trent Murphy, Preston Smith or even someone like Houston Bates to prove that they can fill the hole left by him. The team still has a chance to have a vaunted pass rush, but Murphy and Smith will need to make good on the hype surrounding them, or someone else has to surprise us instead. Saturday will be a big test, so keep an eye on how much pressure Washington’s rushers can generate.