After two awful performances by the Washington NFL team’s starting offense in their first two preseason games against Baltimore and Green Bay, I ask one question of my fellow fans: are you okay?
Are you okay with the first-team offense not being able to produce even one first down in two full quarters of play?
Washington Redskins running back Rob Kelley, right, is tackled by Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs in the first half of a preseason NFL football game, Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)
Are you okay with the first-team offense looking befuddled and ill-equipped to run the basics of a normalized NFL offense?
Are you satisfied with the offensive line missing blocks and being outplayed for the three quarters of football they’ve taken part in so far?
I know, “it’s just preseason.” But there are certain aspects of precision and continuity you want to see from your team in these games, especially one in its fourth season under the same head coach and third season under the same starting quarterback.
Overthrows and underthrows on short passing plays shouldn’t happen. Missed touchdown passes shouldn’t happen—not if Kirk Cousins really is in the upper echelon as people want to believe.
Green Bay Packers tight end Martellus Bennett (80) pulls in a touchdown pass under pressure from Washington Redskins linebacker Zach Brown (53) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Landover, Md., Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Mark Tenally)
Washington will miss speedy wide receiver DeSean Jackson far more than people realize. There were moments in the game against Green Bay on Aug. 19 where I saw safeties come over and almost intercept passes. That wouldn’t have happened with Jackson on the field, because those safeties would have had to stay with him, leaving other receivers with one-on-one matchups.
Cousins is going to have to realize that the wide-open windows he was used to throwing into just aren’t going to be there, not until he and new receivers Terrell Pryor and Josh Doctson become more acquainted in the scheme.
Cousins is too far along in his career to look antsy in the pocket, and the days of coddling him are over. Against Green Bay, there were multiple plays on which he rushed his throws, rather than setting his feet to ensure accuracy. Other times he missed identifying open receivers, opting more hurriedly for check-down passes. With the inability to create any semblance of a run game so far, the pressure on Cousins to lead the team with his arm may be too much—and that isn’t surprising in the least.
The team’s fragile mental state has been shown by dumb mental lapses that have led to penalties throughout both games and ruined any sort of rhythm. Coach Jay Gruden must get these guys to not make key mental errors that have seemingly plagued this franchise for the past two decades. The best teams don’t shoot themselves in the foot. Washington has done it ad nauseam for 20 years.
Stay tuned, Washington fans. It may get worse before it gets any better.