Redskins Stock Report
The blue chip stock of the week is QB Kirk Cousins. The second-year second-stringer got the start against the Titans and tore up Tennessee’s first-team defense, completing 6 of 7 passes — to 5 different receivers — for 52 yards and a TD. He had a couple of nice completions to Fred Davis, including the touchdown, that saw Cousins look off at least one receiver before finding his target. He moved around well in the pocket, his feet looked good when he stepped into throws and he moved outside the pocket well. He just looked like a more polished version of the Kirk Cousins we saw last year. The team wants Robert Griffin III back on September 9 and RG3 remains easily the team’s best hope for eventual Super Bowl glory. Nevertheless, Cousins’ coaches and teammates must be increasingly comfortable with him behind center and more confident in his abilities to win games — not just manage them — should it become necessary again.
Pat White‘s stock is soaring after Thursday night’s heroics — to the extent that anything is “heroic” in sports or, even worse, preseason football — have made a big impression on Skins-watchers. Some of our more excitable brethren are already calling White RG4. [Jokingly, I think.] White completed 5 of 8 passes, but two of those three incompletions were drops and only one pass was thrown poorly. He moved around very nicely in the pocket, executed a read-option fake and run beautifully for 18 easy yards, bought time outside the pocket on a couple of occasions and was swift and decisive on his 9-yard scramble up the middle to the end zone for a touchdown. White really didn’t do anything wrong all night. Of course, all of this was done against players who are not exactly top of the line — many won’t ever play a down in a real NFL game. However, White had the third stringers playing for him and what impressed me was how on-target most of his throws were. It wasn’t as if he was throwing ducks into huge throwing lanes; White really fitted some nice passes into small windows. Considering how poor White looked for most of the offseason, the first preseason game was a gigantic leap forward. He’s still a long shot to make the team, but not as long as he was before Thursday night.
Roy Helu looked like he might be the future of Washington’s backfield when he led the team in rushing and set a franchise record for receptions in a single game back in 2011, his rookie season. Then 2012 came, bringing with it injuries and some guy named Alfred Morris. Suddenly it looked as if Helu might be a one-hit wonder and a forgotten man on the Redskins roster. However, he’s come back healthy in 2013 and has looked very good in camp. He followed that up with a solid performance in the first preseason game, averaging 4.4 yards per carry against Tennessee’s first team and second team defenses and displaying the speed and shiftiness that have many, including myself, thinking Helu could be the perfect complement to the power rushing attack of Morris. Helu may never be the backfield star he once hoped to be in Washington, but he could be in line for a big role in 2013 as a third down back and a reliever for Morris, who probably cannot afford to carry the ball 335 times again.
Leonard Hankerson came into the game needing to show some improvement over his first two season to fend off challenges from Aldrick Robinson or the other mix of veterans and undrafted free agents the Redskins have at wideout. Hankerson wasn’t a world-beater last night, but he caught four passes for 38 yards and had a nice run after the catch on his bubble screen touchdown. Consistency is a major problem for Hankerson — as it is for Robinson — so we need to see more of this.
Young cornerbacks named David Amerson, Richard Crawford and Chase Minnifield all showed some good things against the Titans. Amerson had a great run support play, was physical with receivers, looked comfortable against Tennessee’s starters and should have had an interception on a pass he anticipated nicely. Crawford had an interception taken away by a missed call, but he showed he could track the ball and catch it at its highest point — a real sign of a ballhawk. He also played well for the most part, Minnifield missed a tackle, but was otherwise solid, demonstrating a nice nasty streak and a willingness to mix it up with receivers.
Rex Grossman is in a zero-sum game with Pat White. The better Pat White looks, the worse it is for Grossman since the team is not going to keep more than three quarterbacks [And if RG3 looks healthy in late August, they might not even keep three! I think they will, though.] Grossman wasn’t terrible against the Titans — he threw on TD and had another called back on an illegal formation call — but he also wasn’t terribly accurate some of the time. He showed his propensity to be careless with the ball and to hurry passes under pressure. To be fair, Robinson dropped a nice pass from Grossman that would have picked up a third down and extended a drive. Grossman still shows the ability to move the team down the field. Unfortunately, he also still shows the propensity to be careless with the football. Much of Washington’s offensive success last season was based on their almost-historic ability to not turn the ball over — thanks in large part to RG3‘s caution and decision-making. Grossman still has a huge advantage over White because he knows the offense so well and the Shanahans are very comfortable with him. Nevertheless, this is now a conversation we’re having and we weren’t having it before Thursday night. That’s not a disaster for Grossman, but it’s not good either.
The rookie safeties had a hard time last night, as FS Bacarri Rambo got juked badly in the open field by Chris Johnson and then got flagged for a stupid late hit on Shonn Greene after Greene had scored a touchdown. It wasn’t the worst debut a rookie’s ever had in a preseason game by a long shot, but I’ll bet it also wasn’t what Rambo was hoping for. I still like the kid and think he’s the favorite to win that job — in part because the competition is so weak — but last night was not the night we were looking for. Plenty of time to turn it around, though. Meanwhile, SS Phillip Thomas bruised his foot and had to leave the game. He was in a walking boot after the game, having played less than one full quarter of football. It’s unclear how much time he will miss, but it shouldn’t be too bad. Not the debut he was hoping for, though, and even mild injuries are bad news.