Earlier today we looked at the individual players who had rising and falling stock in the wake of last night’s preseason game in Cleveland. Keeping in mind that it can be dangerous to project regular seasons performance based on these games, let’s step back and look at the big picture and see what aspects of the game were good, bad, and ugly.
—A clean game: The Redskins had just three penalties for 45 yards. Thirty five of those penalty yards came on one play, a pass interference call on Chris Culliver that perhaps should not have been called; in any case, it would have been hard to avoid. Kirk Cousins had to burn one time out to prevent a delay of game but overall it looked like the team was ready to play.
—The rushing defense: Browns running back coach Wilbert Montgomery said earlier that it didn’t look like any of their backs wanted to take the job as the main running back. It sure looked like it last night as Johnny Manziel was the Browns’ leading rusher with 14 yards. The Redskins gave the tailbacks very little running room as the combined to rush for just 27 yards.
—Pass protection: The various offensive line combinations allowed just one sack. This also showed that the quarterbacks were doing a good job getting rid of the ball and that the running backs and tight ends help up as well.
—Third down defense: Cleveland was held to three of 13 first-down conversions, a 23 percent rate.
—Special teams: There was no pop in the return game from Andre Roberts or anyone who lined up to return a kickoff or punt. Chris Thompson muffed one punt and looked uncomfortable fielding some others. Roberts turned it over once when he coughed up the ball on a return. That set up a Browns touchdown.
—Kickoffs: Yes, I know they are part of special teams but they need to get singled out here. The Browns kicked off four times and three of those resulted in touchbacks. Washington had a total of 32 kickoff return yards. The Redskins kicked off five times with no touchbacks and they gave up 143 yards in returns. If they repeat that 111-yard differential in a regular season game it could well turn a possible win into a loss.
—Turnovers: The Redskins lost two fumbles and Akeem Davis picked of a Browns pass. A minus-one in turnover ratio also could be a fatal flaw in a close game. The Redskins needs to force more takeaways.
—Injuries: An NFL team gets better by collecting players like Niles Paul. Losing him for the season hurts. Perhaps they can replace the production but not the special teams play and leadership that Paul showed. And even though Silas Redd was on the roster bubble he was very popular among his teammates. But that’s the way it goes and the Redskins aren’t expecting to receive any sympathy cards from the other 31 NFL teams.
RICHMOND—The Redskins reportedly have been looking to trade running back Matt Jones since just before the draft. They may be able to find a partner just up I-95.
The Baltimore Ravens are in need of a running back after Kenneth Dixon suffered a season-ending knee injury earlier this week. Terrance West, who gained 774 yards on the ground last year, is healthy and returning but the Ravens want more depth at the position.
That is where Jones could come into play. The 2015 third-round pick of the Redskins was the unquestioned starter going into last season. But fumbling and other issues prompted Jay Gruden to make him inactive the last nine games of the season. Jones further fell out of favor by skipping OTAs this year, a move he made on the advice of his now-former agent.
RELATED: Is Cousins overrated?
Ravens coach Jim Harbaugh said last year that he liked Jones “a lot” in the 2015 draft and he could well still be intrigued by his size and speed. ESPN Ravens reporter Jamison Hensley said that Jones could be a good fit for the Ravens in their current situation.
It should be noted that Hensley seems to be engaging in informed speculation and not relaying anything he heard from the team’s decision makers. He also speaks of the possibility of Baltimore picking up Jones after the Redskins release him.
But there could be some incentive for the Ravens to talk trade with the Redskins rather than waiting for Jones to hit the waiver wire. For one thing, getting their new back in sooner rather than later would benefit the Ravens, allowing the player to get acclimated to his new quarterback and offensive line. While the Redskins are inevitably going to cut Jones, they have no incentive to do so before the final cuts just before the start of the season. Perhaps the Ravens will want to give up some minor compensation, something like a swap of sixth- and seventh-round picks, to get Jones in for the start of training camp.
MORE REDSKINS: Ranking the Redskins roster, the final update
Hensley also mentions the possibility that the Ravens will look at former Redskin Alfred Morris for depth at running back. He currently is buried on the Cowboys’ depth chart behind All-Pro Ezekiel Elliott and Darren McFadden. However, there is the possibility of a domestic-violence suspension on the horizon for Elliott. While the suspension is likely to be brief the Cowboys probably don’t want to depart with any running back depth until the matter has been settled.
Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.
At CSNmidatlantic.com we projected the Redskins’ 53-man roster (offense, defense) right after minicamp. Now we are taking it one step further and ranking the 53 players we think will make the team.
The rankings are determined by who we think will have the most impact on the 2017 Redskins. No consideration was given for past performance or for what a particular player might do down the road. We’ll be revealing the rankings over the next few weeks.
Today we’re updating the list with the players we ranked from 1-10. Here are some of the players in our latest update:
—A 2016 free agent who needs to make more big plays.
—A rookie expected to bolster one of the weakest units on the team.
—Each of the five highest-paid players on the team.
—What you won’t find: Any players who will be over the age of 29 in Week 1.
Go here to see our ranking of the 2017 Redskins, players 1-53.
Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.