kirk cousins by ed sheahin

PRESEASON RETURNS. 5 things to watch in tonight’s Redskins at Titans game

If you are like me – and I know I am – you are rejoicing at the return of live football action even though preseason games are kinda fake.

Still, it’s the fan’s first assessment of the team and the development of favorite players. Here are five quick things Hog Heaven will look for in all preseason games.

No. 1 – Cool it, RGIII. Nobody cares that you want to run 11 on 11 drills and play in preseason games.

This image of RGIII still traumatizes Redskins fans

Hog Heaven and everyone else marvels at your bionic knees. We believe that you will play in NFL Week 1 or shortly thereafter. However, I don’t think you understand fans' emotional trauma at seeing you writhing on the ground in our stadium in a playoff game.

In the spirit of executing the guilty and punishing the innocent:

·         We blame you (but not all that much) for the disregard of the condition of your knee and its importance to our future together. See, your knee is the royal baby of the Redskins. Kate does not own the royal baby. A country does. You don't own your knee. We do.

·         We blame the head coach for asking the wrong questions of the medical staff and then relying on it instead of what he saw on the field.

·         We blame the medical staff for being lambs when they should have been lions. More honesty was due from them to you and to your coach, even if you guys did not want to hear it.

·         We mostly blame the head coach and the offensive coordinator for seeing the decline your performance after the first quarter and doing nothing about it.

·         We blame the grass even though nobody complained about the grass before the playoff game. Killer grass ruined everything.

The grass has been executed and the replacement grass is put on warning. We are watching for evidence that the Redskins, including you, learned from the experience.   

No. 2 – The secondary can do no worse than last year. Can they do better?

It’s a given that the secondary will feature two rookie starters this season, maybe even three when the Redskins are in a dime package.  I expect a rough outing from the rookie DBs tonight. Working out the kinks is the reason for preseason.

Tonight sets the threshold performance for David Amerson, Bacarri Rambo, Phillip Thomas and young vets Richard Crawford, Chase Minnifield and E.J. Biggers. We want to see game by game progress thereafter.

No. 3 – How will the Redskins use all those tight ends?

Redskins rookie tight end Jordan Reed (Florida)

The answer won’t come until the regular season, but I suspect that ‘Skins drafted Jordan Reed for reasons other than blocking ability.  

We already wrote that Washington has the third-best receiving corps in the Beast. Argue amongst yourselves whether the Giants or Cowboys should be No. 1, but until we actually see Leonard Hankerson and Aldrick Robinson step it up, the Redskins’ group is not in the discussion.

The receivers can get better at catching the ball, or Washington can use multiple tight ends to boost the passing game. All the cool kids are using multiple tight end sets now. Tight ends are friendlier to salary caps, too.

No. 4 – Can Roy Helu run and catch?

If Helu is healthy and can stay that way, he adds another dimension to Washington’s running game. He may be a more dangerous edge rusher than Alfred Morris and better backfield receiver, too.

Morris shall not be displaced as the feature back. The Redskins have to do something to save his legs. Older Redskins fans have not forgotten how George Allen ran Larry Brown into the ground. It would be tragic, TRAGIC, if the grossly underpaid Morris broke down before he got his second NFL contract, also known as the money deal.

Can the Redskins use Helu, Chris Thompson, Jawan Jamison, or even Keiland Williams and Evan Royster to save Morris legs? In the Shanahan playbook, what’s the difference between a change-of-pace back and a third down back, anyway?

No. 5 – Does Kirk Cousins continue to impress … his coaches?


The NFL is catching on that Capt. Kirk is a better QB than indicated by his Draft position. (Hog Heaven thinks Cousins is on par with Russell Wilson after watching both in their 2011 college campaigns.) That’s why we are stumped that the Shanahans did not insert him sooner in the Seattle game, say in the second quarter with a 14-point lead instead of the last seven minutes when down by 10 points.

Did Cousins fail to win his coaches’ confidence? Can he do it this preseason?

Cousins came out of Michigan State’s pro style offense more pro ready than most quarterbacks. He is a pocket passer who can roll out and run bootlegs. Pro defenses are used to that. They anticipate the quarterback. They rush him.

Cousins cannot run read-option nearly as well as RG could run a Cousins play-action. Hog Heavens wonders why the Shanahans put all their chips in one style of offense that only one quarterback could run. Wasn’t that the knock on Tim Tebow?

Oh. Right. RG is vastly more talented than Tebow.

If Washington had a Cousins offense that both RGIII and Cousins could run as well, the scheme would not change so much if Griffin misses plays. All that would be different is that we tone down the option.

The Redskins did not have a contingency when they played Seattle. Perhaps they will develop one if Cousins impresses his own coaches enough.

GMs are not stupid. They won't be snookered into offering Kevin Kolb-type trade offers for Cousins if they sense the coach does not believe in him. We learned that with Haynesworth. 

Kirk Cousins photo credit, Ed Sheahin, Twitter/@NFLSkins

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Anthony Brown

About Anthony Brown

Lifelong Redskins fan and blogger about football and life since 2004. Joined MVN's Hog Heaven blog in 2005 and then moved Redskins Hog Heaven to Bolguin Network. Believes that the course of a season is pre-ordained by management decisions made during the offseason. Can occasionally be found on the This Given Sunday blog and he does guest posts.

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