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Five Takeaways: Redskins-Ravens

Posted Aug 11, 2017

Here’s five takeaways from the Washington Redskins’ preseason Week 1 game against the Baltimore Ravens that took place at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md.

Here’s five takeaways from the Washington Redskins’ preseason Week 1 game against the Baltimore Ravens that took place at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md.


1. While he was only on the field for two series, Kirk Cousins will take something from this preseason opener.
The Redskins’ first-team offense was only on the field for two series Thursday night, as Cousins went 1-of-2 for five yards while running back Rob Kelley tallied three carries.

It was an expected short night for the group, as it normally is in the first preseason game of the year, but Cousins had wished he could have gotten the offense moving down the field more as the first two series both resulted in three-and-outs.

“We prefer to get in a rhythm over time, throughout a whole game, and obviously if you have four quarters you’d like to think you’d eventually get going, but we always talk about starting fast and you can’t wait until the second or third quarter to get going,” Cousins said. “Many times in the NFL that won’t be enough time.

“So we want to start fast and we probably didn’t do enough tonight to start fast, but we talked about in Richmond, [Va.], a few days ago that we see different coverages, and different blitzes, and different fronts from defenses other than the one we’re going against every day in practice, and that was true tonight. We saw a lot more man coverage, a couple different pick stunts and pressures. Those, as you can see, gave us a challenge.”

Cousins said he’ll “take a lot of things from this game,” including how he targets new wide receiver Terrelle Pryor Sr. in live action.

On Cousins’ first throw of the game, he tried to hit the 6-foot-4 Pryor on a slant but threw it just a little bit too high.

“It’s a bang-bang play, and I feel like I had to put it over him with a little bit of height, probably more than I needed maybe, as I look at it,” Cousins said. “But again, trying to use Terelle’s size, I thought maybe if I put it up there he could make me right and I could play it safe and not throw it into danger, but obviously it was a little too high, [he] wasn’t able to come down with it.”

2. Jonathan Allen registers a sack in his preseason debut.
Coming in the second quarter, Allen logged the first of three Washington sacks on the evening as the first-round pick took advantage of strong coverage from the secondary to take down Ravens quarterback Ryan Mallet.

“Really just rushing the quarterback,” Allen said  of the play. “I had seen him step up in the pocket and had a good retrace and got him before he was able to cross the line of scrimmage.”

Allen, of course, was selected by the Redskins with the No. 17-overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. While he’s said before that his first job on the defensive line will be stopping the run, he showed at Alabama that he can be a nuisance for quarterbacks, too. In four seasons with the Crimson Tide he totaled 28.5 sacks.

“I saw him back there a couple times and the surge,” cornerback Josh Norman said. “I like the surge from the defensive lineman that I see. They are deep. They have depth. This is the first time I saw that since I’ve been here so that’s impressive to see guys like that. It’s cool to me.”

3. Jay Gruden wants to see more out of the running game in the coming weeks.
On a night in which the Redskins struggled to get into a flow on offense, the team carried the ball eight times for just 39 yards.

Five of the team’s six running backs recorded a carry, with rookie Samaje Perine leading the way with six carries for 15 yards. Eleven of those yards came on a beautiful first down run, easily the longest run in the game for Washington.

“We didn’t get a lot of movement,” Gruden said of the running game. “We had a couple hits there in the second half. But overall, there wasn’t a lot of movement. Hats off to the Ravens’ defense, they are stout and have some big guys up front. [CJ] Mosley in the middle is a heck of a linebacker. Very good defense for the first six plays. We have to do better.”

The Redskins are hopeful that this young group can provide balance on an offense loaded with weapons on the outside.

Chris Thompson is confident the group will do just that, but they must improve on this opening performance.

“I didn’t think we did as well as we should have, and now we see there’s a lot of things we have to work on,” Thompson said. “I’m not down about it. We just have a lot of things to fix. It was the first live situation for us, and I think we just kind of got that out of our system. We just have to put out a better show these next couple pre-season games.”

4. Like Allen, fellow rookie Nico Marley registered a sack.
Making his preseason debut for the Redskins after signing with Washington after a successful rookie minicamp tryout, Marley recorded four tackles and a sack on the evening.

On the Ravens’ second possession of the third quarter, defensive coordinator Greg Manusky decided to dial up the pressure on 1st-and-10 and sent Marley in to rush Baltimore quarterback Dustin Vaughn.

Marley would burst through the line before chasing a scrambling Vaughn down for a five-yard loss.

“Coach called my number and it was my time to make a play,” Marley said. “I had to step up.”

Marley along with seventh-round pick Josh Harvey-Clemons entered the game after Will Compton, Zach Brown and Mason Foster rotated through for the night. While he is the smallest of the group, Marley continues to flash in front of the coaching staff.

“He’s an energetic fireplug,” Gruden said. “He makes plays. He has to continue to do it. We have three more games left to evaluate these guys. This is a good start in the evaluation process.”

5. As the Redskins close out training camp this weekend and then get into the thick of the preseason schedule, Gruden wants to see less mistakes.
While Washington finished the evening without a fumble lost, the team did cough up the football three times while quarterback Colt McCoy threw an interception late in the fourth quarter.  

Ball security remains a point of emphasis for Gruden, but the Redskins struggled to keep possession of the ball at times.

“Very concerning,” Gruden said of the fumbles. “We had [three] fumbles, a couple of dropped balls and that’s not good. I think one was on a punt return as well. We have to really concentrate on ball security. We focus on it. We fundamentally drill it. So, we just have to make sure it’s pounded in our head a little more.”

The Redskins also were penalized seven times for 91 yards. Baltimore gained four new sets of downs as a result.

“Just to make sure we don’t continue to make the same mistakes,” said wide receiver Brian Quick when asked about Gruden’s postgame comments. “We need to build from this game. We need to be more consistent.”

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