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.