Analyze This - Jacksonville

With several starters sidelined, including Champ Bailey, Rod Gardner, Laveranues Coles, LaVar Arrington and Jeremiah Trotter, the Redskins lacked a lot of sizzle in their 17-15 loss to Jacksonville. But this is preseason, which means it's about evaluating talent and not wins. Some players made a mark. Others? Well, they had a long night.

SIZZLE

. . . Keep this in mind: Defensive tackle Lional Dalton played most of the night against backups. But keep this in mind, too: he dominated them. Dalton, who was acquired from Denver earlier in the week and who hadn't practiced in two weeks, played an excellent game.

Dalton, who played both tackle spots, applied pressure, got off blocks to stop the run and even squeezed through double teams. He stays very low, giving him good leverage, was quick and he knew where to put his hands. In one second-quarter sequence, he got off his block to stop the running back for a one-yard gain. A couple plays later his pressure forced a sack. On the first play of the second half he shot through and stopped the back for no gain. Two plays later he had another pressure.

Only once did I see him mess up. Late in the game he got too high and lost his ground in the middle, leading to a seven-yard gain. Credit that to fatigure.

But, overall, the guy just made plays. Maybe, just maybe, the Redskins got a steal.

. . . Linebacker Clifton Smith did it again: he played his assignments well and always seemed to be in the right place at the right time. He was known for that at Syracuse and that's why it'll be hard to cut him this weekend. Smith also showed an ability to get off blocks.

. . . Running back Sultan McCullough. But not necessarily for his runs. It was for everything else--and he made me change my words. I'd been saying his value on special teams wouldn't be as great as a Kenny Watson or Ladell Betts. And I still believe that--their experience means something. But McCullough made a perfect tackle on a punt return, using form every player could learn from: head on the ball and arms wrapped around the returner. Awesome. He also did a decent job picking up blitzes, another question I had about him. Things are different in the regular season, but if nothing else he showed what he's capable of doing. Don't let him get away.

. . . Center Lennie Friedman. Played the whole game at center. For that he deserves credit. But he looks good doing it: he looks better here than at guard, where, at 283 pounds, he's small.

. . . Corner Ade Jimoh should have sewn up a roster spot. He was excellent in man coverage, though he'll have to learn to play zone to succeed. Even if his man got the ball Jimoh usually had tight coverage. He also was in the right place on returns. His speed makes him valuable on special teams, if nothing else.

. . . Defensive end Jonathan Brown is a longshot. But he had a pressure and forced an incompletion on a bootleg by staying home. Good for him.

. . . Linebacker Lemar Marshall sacked quarterback Mark Brunell on a blitz. He was visible on other plays, too, and seemed to be in the right spot on special teams. It'll be a close call at linebacker.

FIZZLE

. . . Corner Fred Booker. Tried to make a tackle with his eyes staring at the ground. For a guy trying to make a team, it looked horrible. Naturally the back broke free. Wrap up, for goodness sake. And say goodbye: plays like that don't earn roster spots.

. . . Guard Akil Smith. Called for holding on back to back plays in the second half. Need to know more? Time to make other plans.

. . . Guard Randy Thomas. He didn't play last week so maybe he was a bit rusty. I'll give him that. But he didn't resemble someone on the cusp of being a Pro Bowler. On a third down play on the first drive, Thomas was completely stood up and knocked backwards. A few plays later he allowed a pressure, forcing Patrick Ramsey to sprint left and throw an incomplete pass.

. . .Tackle Brandon Winey. He's looked good at times in practice, but he didn't look great last night. He allowed a sack vs. the Jaguars and another time made a poor decision: with a corner blitzing, he left the defensive end. Guess who made the play? Winey's footwork was a bit flat at times, too, and he gets too upright and loses his base. But he has size and he did show promise in practice.

. . . Safety David Terrell looked like a reincarnation of Tom Carter, the least physical player I've ever seen. On one play Terrell ran very passively at Jaguars running back Joe Smith on a pitch to the left from the Redskins' 8. Others looked bad on this play: Del Cowsette and Ladairis Jackson got drilled inside. But Terrell ran half-hearted at the back and tried to make an arm tackle. He looked nothing like someone trying to win a starting job. Plays like this show he doesn't deserve it.

. . . Brad Badell, playing tackle, was beaten for a sack and also allowed a pressure. He can play guard, too. But it'll be interesting who they decide to keep: him or Pita Elisara (if either). Elisara did not make the costly mistakes he did in the first two preseason games. Will that be enough?

. . . The first defense tackled poorly, but they also played without starting linebackers Jeremiah Trotter and LaVar Arrington. But the other linebacker, Jessie Armstead, is among those who missed a tackle.

. . . Quarterback Patrick Ramsey. Still like him. Still think he'll do fine. Still wondering when it'll happen. He only had two series and was pressured a couple times. So it's not all his fault. But I haven't seen him do enough to suggest a quick start. We'll see.

IN BETWEEN

. . . Defensive tackle Del Cowsette. He made plays using penetration from nose tackle, showing great leverage. But he also got easily turned on some running plays when matched against the first unit. Actually, that happened on consecutive plays in Jacksonville's first series (which came right after a nice stop by Cowsette, which is why he's in this category).

. . . Receiver Cliff Russell. He gets open. He doesn't get the ball, whether it's his fault or the quarterback's. In truth, last night, it wasn't usually his fault. And he did draw a pass interference (though it was a ball he could have, and should have, caught). For some reason he doesn't look as comfortable catching the ball as he did most of training camp. Patrick Johnson has moved past him, at least in my mind (not that I have any say).

But Russell did have a nice tackle on a punt return. Mike Stock likes him on special teams.

. . . Running back Ladell Betts was OK in his stint. He didn't always have good holes, but he didn't scare anyone, either. Betts is more of a grind-it-out runner. Funny, when he was drafted the Redskins said he'd be a perfect fit for Spurrier's offense.

. . . Defensive tackle Martin Chase didn't do much against the first string, but was OK against the backups. Which is what he should be also.

. . . Quarterback Danny Wuerffel threw some nice balls, particularly on crossing routes. But was high on a few others. He hasn't done anything to unseat Rob Johnson, though Johnson continues to hold the ball too long. And why didn't Gibran Hamdan play? Probably because they plan to cut him and stash him on the practice squad. I can't imagine anyone would pick him up.

HOW THEY SCORED . . . The Jaguars took a 7-0 lead when QB Mark Brunell passed four yards to tight end Kyle Brady on a bootleg to the left. Count linebacker Antonio Pierce among those he fooled. The drive started with a similar play to Brady, this one gaining 15 yards. Redskins end Regan Upshaw had a 15-yard roughing penalty on third and 20. He hit Brunell at the knees after he threw an incomplete pass.

. . . The Redskins made it 7-3 with 8:06 left in the second quarter when John Hall kicked a 26-yard field goal, capping a drive that began when Pierce recovered a fumble at the Jaguars' 44. Quarterback Danny Wuerffel connected with receiver Darnerien McCants for a 23-yard gain to the Jaguars' 27.

. . . Jacksonville took a 14-3 halftime lead when running back Joe Smith scored on an eight-yard run with 1:54 left in the second quarter, capping an 83-yard drive. End Peppi Zellner was flagged 15 yards for a facemask penalty on the first play of the series.

. . . Washington made it 14-6 on another Hall field goal, this one from 46 yards with 6:48 left in the third. The big play: a 22-yard crossing pass from Wuerffel to receiver Taylor Jacobs to the Jacksonville 20 on third and eight.

. . . Jacksonville scored its final points of the night with 13:54 left in the game when --- kicked a 31-yard field goal. The Jaguars converted three of four third downs on the drive, which started at their own 31.

. . . Wuerffel threw eight yards to receiver Patrick Johnson, who ran a nice out route in the end zone, to make it 17-12. Johnson had receptions of 25 and 20 yards on this series. Washington also converted a fourth and one--Wuerffel snuck for the necessary yards, but the Jaguars also were flagged for having 12 men on the field. Wuerffel misfired to Johnson on the two-point conversion.

. . . Hall kept his night perfect when he drilled a 39-yard field goal with 5:05 remaining for the final points, making it 17-15. The drive began at Jacksonville's 27, after the Jaguars went for it on fourth and one, but failed (they fumbled, but recovered).


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