The Washington Redskins on Friday night earned their second preseason victory, topping the Indianapolis Colts, 16-3, at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The Redskins came away from the game with a sense of accomplishment, but still have work left to do. Here are five observations from preseason game No. 2.
1.) Beck is capable – John Beck came out and put on a solid performance as he battles for the Redskins’ starting quarterback job. Beck didn’t throw for a touchdown, but he was able to move his team up and down the field while scattering the ball around to 10 different pass-catchers. In the first week of camp, quarterbacks coach Matt Lafleur said all Beck and Rex Grossman had to do was let the plays come to them and not force anything. Beck did that, getting the ball out quickly and sticking mainly to short passes – a 19-yarder to Jabar Gaffney being his longest attempt. Are 17 passes enough to go on in determining if Beck is the guy or not? Probably not. But after the game, Lafleur said he was happy with the pace at which Beck ran the offense, and most of all, he liked that Beck didn’t turn the ball over. Beck appears to be more conservative a passer than Grossman. He never attacked the defense going downfield, and twice scrambled rather than going for passes that he believed weren’t safe. A time or two, he appeared to miss open receivers downfield. But the good thing is, he didn’t turn over the ball. It’s still too early to tell who starts against the Baltimore Ravens next week, but that would be a good test for Beck if he gets the nod.
2.) Deal of the offseason – Tim Hightower appears to be a steal of a deal for Washington. They traded Vonnie Holliday (a player they likely would have cut) and an undisclosed draft pick to the Cardinals for a guy that appears to be a perfect fit for Mike Shanahan’s system. Hightower again got the job done, running with patience and explosiveness at the same time. If the season started today, Hightower would be the starter. Ryan Torain faces an uphill battle to convince coaches otherwise when he returns.
3.) Helu’s potential -- Rookie Roy Helu showed why the Redskins drafted him. He’s as quick as they come. The most impressive aspect of his night was the move he made to produce his 51-yard run. Running toward the left sideline, it looked as if Helu would step out of bounds. But he stopped on a dime and cut back upfield and ran free for another 40 yards. Not many backs have that type of balance and body control. Helu looks as if he can be the change-of-pace back that Washington desperately needs. Like Beck, it’ll be interesting to see what Helu is capable of against Baltimore next week.
4.) Kerrigan’s progress – Rookie Ryan Kerrigan recorded three tackles last week (one for a loss), and on Friday recorded his first sack, a tackle and a quarterback pressure. He said he’s starting to be able to read his opponents more easily. “A couple times, it was like I could see things that were about to happen before they did. The coaches really did a good job of preparing me,” Kerrigan said. A sign that he is picking things up quickly was the third-down play in which Kerrigan (who starts at left outside linebacker) flip-flopped with Brian Orakpo and lined up on the right side to give the Colts a different look. As Jim Haslett said, “he’s going to get better every time he’s out there.”
5.) Red zone struggles continue – Despite their ability to move the ball with relative ease, Washington’s touchdown deficiency continues. This preseason, they have 32 points to show for despite moving into scoring position 10 times. The Redskins should have scored more than two touchdowns (a Grossman pass last week and a Hightower run this week). Shanahan said part of the problem is the team hasn’t game-planned for opponents and doing so in the regular season will reveal to him and his coaches ways they can exploit the opponent. Another problem: This team still is in need of playmakers. A healthy Chris Cooley would help. And playing Santana Moss all game will help as well. But Washington needs rookie Leonard Hankerson or another big target, fellow rookie Niles Paul, to step up to help the quarterbacks in the red zone.