OK, the Dolphins played without a handful of starters and have their share of well-documented issues. But in the preseason you want to see how a team does in the basics of the game. And the Redskins excelled in those areas, with good blocking up front, few penalties and smart decisions. That's how you win.
And the defense showed it with much better tackling -- at times when there were missed tackles, another defender was there to help.
They'd look like this for spurts the past two years, then would fall back because they lacked on-field discipline. But last night they played that way for an entire game.
Considering what the Dolphins have, and don't have, a good team should dominate them. That's what the Redskins did. Whether or not that makes them a good team remains to be seen. But that's what they were Saturday night. It's a start.
Mark Brunell. We wanted to see accuracy. He was accurate. But it's not hard to be accurate throwing almost every pass to running backs. Still, he moved the ball and got points -- that's what Gibbs wants to see most. Brunell's arm lacks zip and that could get him on trouble throwing in the flat to the backs.
On a couple passes, Brunell threw to the backs inside shoulder and, because of it, was ohsoclose to being intercepted -- probably for a touchdown. Only once did he hit John Simon in stride, allowing him to gain six extra yards. But another time throwing to the inside shoulder allowed Simon to turn it inside, away from the pressure, for another five yards. Brunell makes quicker decisions than Patrick Ramsey, looking to move the chains rather than score points on every play. Game management is what it's all about and Brunell excels in this area.
Sean Taylor. Think he'll ever be a reserve again? Doubt it. Taylor deservedly started ahead of Andre Lott and made his presence felt immediately. He caused and recovered a fumble that led to the Redskins first touchdown.
John Simon. The running back showed he can do more than just run the ball. He looked good catching passes and he can help on special teams, making him a little more of an all-around back than his competition. Will that be enough? Simon did a good job running after the catch, feeling the defenders and turning the right way. He also showed patience on some sweeps.
Ron Warner. We said to pay attention to him and he did just fine playing with the first unit, lining up at both end spots. Two plays stood out. Once, he had the right tackle beaten on a spin move back inside, but slipped (the move drew help). Another time, lined up on the right side, he knocked the tight end back and drew help from the left tackle. He also had at least one penetration to disrupt a run.
Joe Salave'a. Clearly entrenched as the No. 3 tackle; had a tackle for a loss. Very strong.
Kenyatta Jones. Not much competition for the job at right tackle, but he looked better this week. The Redskins give him a lot of help in passing downs with the tight end, many times leaving him without anyone to block. The better Chris Samuels plays, the more help they can give Jones. But Jones' footwork is fine when pulling. It's been a while since he played right tackle so maybe the rust is shaking off. We'll see.
Redskins starting line: Let's not stop with Jones. The whole unit looked good. Chris Samuels was outstanding and Derrick Dockery looked pretty good, too. Samuels is playing with a nasty streak -- watch him finish blocks, he gives an extra nudge as the play ends. Nothing cheap, but it's good to see. The Redskins provided Brunell with nice pockets to throw from, sometimes because they kept in six to block and faced only four rushers. Yet they still had guys open. Just shows you that you don't have to flood a defense with receivers, you just have to give a quarterback some time.
Marcus Washington. Again displayed his athleticism and excellent pursuit to the ball. Jarred the ball free from a running back on a pass.
Clinton Portis. Had big gains and steady gains, showing that he's not one-dimensional. Also shows enough power for short-yardage situations.
Kevin Mitchell. With Antonio Pierce starting in the middle for injured Mike Barrow, it appears Mitchell could be in trouble. Pierce has not been terrific in the middle -- hasn't made many tackles and doesn't shed blockers well -- but he is faster than Mitchell. And his speed on blitzes is big -- that's how he got a sack in the first quarter. That could make the difference. Mitchell did recover a fumble and he still plays special teams. He's good to have around. But speed has always been a reason he hasn't played more. At some point it'll spell the end.
Ladell Betts. He lost by not playing as the other backs each showed something. Betts had better look good, and stay healthy, in the final two games. Hard to say if his spot is in jeopardy, but he's shown this staff nothing but a little potential.
Mark Wilson. At right tackle his footwork just isn't there yet. On at least three occasions Wilson was supposed to pull. Each time the defensive lineman knocked him deeper into the backfield, disrupting the plaly. One time it resulted in a tackle for a loss. Maybe in time he'll be ready; he isn't now.
Regan Upshaw. Still haven't seen anything from him. It would be nice to see some pressures or an ability to stop the run.
Patrick Ramsey. Made strides and stepped into a few passes, adding zip to his throws. It's the first time we've seen that in the preseason. Another time he hit his third option. But at times he looks uncertain enough that leaves him firmly behind Mark Brunell.
Sultan McCullough. I know he had one very good run, starting inside then bouncing outside for a long gain. But other than that he did nothing and did not show he could be a steady ground gainer. And I'd like to see how he'd do in the passing game. He's almost never a factor in that area, which makes me wonder why. It was a problem last year, but how much has he developed? Hard to say. More than anything, though, he's on this side of the ledger because of what John Simon and Rock Cartwright have shown. There's a part of me that really likes him -- good speed, some toughness --but another part that says he's just not complete enough. We'll see what the coaches think.
Andre Lott. Hard to put him in this category since no one expected him to hang onto the starting job. But he had a good opportunity to show what he could do in the first couple games and did very little. Meanwhile, Taylor showed a lot.
Gari Scott. Given another opportunity to show what he can do on punt returns and didn't do much. He's a terrific story and easy to root for, but he hasn't capitalized on his chances.
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