The Washington Redskins are set for their second preseason game this Friday against the New York Jets at FedEx Field. Washington is coming off a 23-17 loss in their preseason debut against the Atlanta Falcons and hope to improve on some of the mistakes made in that game. New York, on the other hand, is coming off a victory. But it is preseason and records don't matter. Each team has much to build upon before the regular season begins. Below we'll discuss five topics to observe in this game.
1. Run game
The Redskins only had 79 yards rushing last week and 71 of those yards came in the second half. They really need to get their ground game going this week. The Jets allowed 96 yards against Jacksonville and could be exploited, though maybe not if the starters play lots. "The Jets are excellent against the run," Gruden said after Wednesday's practice. "If I recall last year, we couldn’t run the length of my arm against them."
Washington should focus on giving Matt Jones more carriers. He needs to get more touches in order to find a rhythm. It will also be interesting to see how rookies Keith Marshall and Robert Kelley perform. Kelley, the undrafted free agent shined the most among Washington's group of running backs last week and received reps with the second unit during Wednesday's practice, according to Breaking Burgundy's Ben Standig.
If the pattern repeats itself, the Redskins will have zero sacks after two games. Last week the team mustered traces of a pass rush, better never got home to the QB. The Jets allowed three sacks against the Jags. Pass rush has been a story of the offseason for Washington and they need to prove their worth.
3. Defending Explosive Rookies: Jalin Marshall and Charone Peake
Washington allowed the Falcons to have a field-day on the deep ball. Atlanta attacked their second and third team defensive backs early and often with great success. This week the Redskins have to face two explosive rookies that are making noise in New York. WR Jalin Marshall not only poses a threat on offense, but he had a 84-yard kickoff return against the Jags. Of course, Washington's kickoff unit allowed a long touchdown against Atlanta. That can't happen this week. New York's other rookie WR Charone Peake had an excellent touchdown in the redzone in the team's preseason debut. The 6-foot-2 receiver with 34-inch arms received rave reviews as a red zone threat. But Washington should also note Peake's 4.4 speed. He's a guy who can take the roof off a defense. Nickelback Quinton Dunbar gave up two long passes last week.
4. Redskins OL vs Jets front 7
The Jets have one of the league's best front 7's with guys like Sheldon Richardson, Leonard Williams and David Harris. Their unit has even more depth and explosion this year with rookie LBs Jordan Jenkins and Darron Lee. Washington allowed three sacks in the second half last week. Not to mention, their OL depth was tested in the run game. They need to find ways to offset New York's explosive front on defense.
It's preseason and penalties happen. However, some of Washington's 19 against the Falcons were just unacceptable. The Redskins need to play more disciplined this week and limit the penalties.
You can find Emmanual on Twitter @manny_benton.
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