Kirk Cousins’ internal clock is getting hurried. Through two preseason games, it seems like Cousins can’t count to “three Mississippi” before feeling pressure from pass rushers ready to flatten him. That’s left the offense sputtering.
Cousins has had enough protection to throw for 9,083 yards over the last two years. But now he looks harried.
“I think practice is a false sense of reality when they’re not actually able to hit you,” he said Saturday after playing the Packers. “It’s a different deal when they can, and I probably was moving a little faster than I needed to.”
Washington’s starters needed six preseason series over two games to gain a first down. The first unit finally scored its first touchdown of the year in the second quarter of the 21-17 loss to Green Bay.
Who stole the Redskins’ offense?
Maybe it’s unfair to blame left guard Shawn Lauvao and center Spencer Long for letting opponents rush past. The vanilla play-calling common in the preseason makes the offense more predictable and lets pass rushers tee off.
But the limited playbook can’t hide the fact that Baltimore and Green Bay were living in Washington’s backfield.
The Redskins’ vulnerability is exposed. And that’s going to be a problem.
Against Green Bay, Cousins was hurried on three straight passes over the first two series. He hasn’t had a turnover this preseason, but pressure is often a recipe for an interception.
Struggles through the air also lead to a poor running game. Rob Kelley ran for 9 yards on nine carries, mostly straight up the middle. Coach Jay Gruden didn’t want to show plays that asked Lauvao and Long to pull across the line.
Now, after requiring arthroscopic knee surgery Monday because of lingering soreness, Long will miss at least the rest of the preseason. Rookie center Chase Roullier, a sixth-round pick out of Wyoming, gets a chance to show his readiness against the Bengals on Sunday, but that means Long won’t be part of the final rehearsal for the regular-season opener against the Eagles on Sept. 10. Starters won’t play much in the preseason finale at Tampa Bay on Aug. 31.
Then again, if Roullier plays well against Cincinnati, maybe Washington will eventually shift Long to guard, where he’s considered a better long-term prospect. That seems like a long shot for now.
Meanwhile, Lauvao’s backup, Arie Kouandjio, is suddenly fighting off rookies Kyle Kalis and Tyler Catalina, so depth at guard is uncertain and unproven. Help might have to be found outside the current roster.
If the Redskins don’t find a solution for their interior line, it could continue to spring the kind of leaks that undermine Washington institutions.
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