RICHMOND—Last year, the Redskins and their fans got a reminder of just how little preseason games mean. They went 4-0 during the practice games and looked pretty good in doing so. That was followed by a thud of a 3-13 regular season.
Here’s a pro tip for you—joint training camp practices mean even less than preseason games do.
Yes, what you have been hearing out of here about the Redskins-Patriots joint practices is largely true. Tom Brady is moving his team’s offense through the Redskins defense like the proverbial hot knife through butter most of the time during 11 on 11 scrimmages. And Robert Griffin III has been uneven in directing the Redskins’ offense. The third-year quarterback has thrown some excellent passes in rhythm; he also has looked hesitant and unable to figure out what to do with the ball at times.
In fact, Brady looks like a quarterback who has been playing in the same offense for 15 years. That’s because he is. Griffin looks like a third-year quarterback who is learning a new offense. And, of course, that’s because that is what he is.
It would be a mistake to read too much into where Griffin and the Redskins are by comparing them to the Patriots. New England is the league’s model franchise. Jay Gruden, Griffin, and the organization are just taking the first steps down the road trying to build something like what the Patriots have.
Also, be careful not to overanalyze what happens during these practices. There are many differences between them and what actually happens during an actual game. There is no game planning. The quarterbacks wear no-contact jerseys and that means that the pass rush is throttled back considerably. There are no adjustments made as the game rolls on, no coaches observing from up in the booth to come up with counter moves, no using one play to set up something else later in the game.
It’s vanilla on vanilla and that favors a team like the Patriots, who have been drafting players into their system for 15 years, over the Redskins, who are starting over.
This isn’t to say that the Redskins should shrug their shoulders, tip their helmets to the Patriots, and move on. They need to use the practices as a learning experience and as a motivational tool.
But the fact that the Patriots look sharper than the Redskins right now, in early August, should not lead to a conclusion that the Redskins will struggle this year like they did in 2013. It does mean that the Redskins have a lot of work to do if they are ever going to get to where the Patriots are but we already knew that.