W’s in August fuel success in September?

The Redskins rarely turn preseason success into regular season victories. Here's why Chris Russell senses a new day is dawning this time.

The Washington Redskins are now 3-0 in the preseason. Wins in August guarantee absolutely nothing, especially recently for this franchise.

This August feels different -- as long as the Redskins figure out a way to delicately handle the quarterback situation.

We know that is a very complicated matter and Jay Gruden told reporters after Saturday night’s win in Baltimore that he believes he has the decision-making power on who plays and who doesn’t. He followed that by saying he would meet with general manager Scot McCloughan, team president Bruce Allen and Redskins owner Dan Snyder to further discuss the situation.

Whatever. I don’t really care as long as they do the right thing for the betterment of the team as a whole.

Unfortunately, at this point I believe that means moving forward without Robert Griffin III as the starter.

Here’s the reason why I am excited about what I’ve seen so far in August and how it should fuel September success.

The running game, though not great, has been effective. In the Redskins preseason opener against Cleveland, Alfred Morris had a 4th-and-1 conversion for a 17-yard game against the first team of the Browns. Since that point, Morris hasn’t done much but it has been a consistent dose of Matt Jones, Chris Thompson and Trey Williams.

If I were the Redskins, I would find a way to keep all four of those backs because they provide depth and a different feel and look as games and the season wear on.

The starting offensive line has been spotty, even with run blocking, but they didn’t allow any sacks of Kirk Cousins in Baltimore. With Trent Williams now in the fold long-term, they can work together to gel as a unit.

[RELATED - Did Kirk Cousins pass the starting QB test?]

I am really, really excited about what the Redskins have at wide receiver. Forget about DeSean Jackson. You know what he is when he’s healthy. It’s the others besides Jackson and Pierre Garcon.

Rookie Jamison Crowder finally played in the preseason and finished with four receptions for 41 yards including a 22-yard touchdown grab off a deflected pass. Solid though not jaw dropping in his debut, I still love the quick threat as a receiver more than as a punt returner.

Ryan Grant continues to get better and better. He’s smooth and sharp in his route running and Redskins quarterbacks trust him.

Andre Roberts has been very sharp in his route-running. If he can be a bit more consistent catching the ball, he should be what the Redskins bought.

Rashad Ross had a couple of touchdown catches Saturday night and has always flashed. I’ve been high on him for a while. Evan Spencer is a tough and physical player who can contribute on special teams.

Those are five guys that should make the roster, along with Jackson and Garcon. The problem for Washington is they probably will only be able to keep six on the final 53-man roster.

Jordan Reed made his preseason debut in Baltimore. Don't count on the injury-prone tight end playing all 16 games this season, but when he's available, he can be a special weapon.

As for the defense – while they are far from perfect – you can see how much better this unit is.

Jason Hatcher looks different and is playing with explosive pop. Chris Baker seems rejuvenated by the addition of his buddy Terrance “Pot Roast” Knighton. By playing less snaps, Baker is much more dominant. He was especially good against the Browns and the Ravens, including forcing a fumble as Baltimore was set to find the end zone.

Preston Smith has been so much better in preseason games than he was in practices and the off-season program. The rookie outside linebacker's length and mass just stands out. He’s made a huge impact. Same for backups Jackson Jeffcoat and Houston Bates.

Even without Junior Galette, the Redskins have depth and talent at OLB, something they never really had when Brian Orakpo would inevitably get hurt.

In the secondary, the safeties are a lot better than in previous years. Maybe that's a low bar, but the Redskins will play with swagger and confidence on the back end. David Amerson had his moments against the Ravens, both good and not so-good. Still, I liked how he fought through it and made some progress.

Chris Culliver, DeAngelo Hall and Bashaud Breeland - when he is eligible in week two - form a solid core. Justin Rogers, who made a hustling tackle on special teams to prevent a touchdown, gives the Redskins good depth in front of Amerson.

Long kick return by the Ravens aside, the Redskins are also better on special teams. The losses of Adam Hayward and Niles Paul are certainly blows, but McCloughan attacked the draft with an eye for players with ability in this very important phase. That includes Kyshoen Jarrett and Martrell Spaight along with others that may or may not make the initial 53. Washington also has a reliable placekicker, punter and long-snapper.

When you go to work on Monday, the Redskins will be in first place in the not so important preseason standings. That doesn’t really matter, but if you look at the depth, they finally have at key positions to get better and overcome injury. When you go to work Monday, you will know that these August wins are preparing them to not just beat the ‘Fins, but provide the foundation for October and November.


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