The Washington Redskins continued their preparation for the season with a 15-13 victory over the New York Jets Thursday night in their second preseason game. While many starters played sparingly or not at all, valuable information still can be gleaned from the game. Here are five takeaways:
1. The starting defense was stout against the run
The Redskins played the majority of their starters on defense to begin their second preseason game and should be encouraged by the work they put in. Former Alabama duo Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne stood out as they clogged up lanes in the middle, giving the Jets’ runners nowhere to go inside. Payne, picked 13th overall in this year’s draft, withstood double teams while still maintaining gap integrity. On one play, he took on a combination block by the center and right guard, leaving Allen one-on-one with the left guard. The running back was forced to cut back behind Payne and straight into Allen, who made the tackle for a loss.
With the inside clogged, the Jets attempted to run to the edge. However, the Redskins were just as stout outside. Ryan Kerrigan and Ryan Anderson both had impressive plays setting hard edges and forcing running backs to cut back inside toward Payne and Allen. On a second-down run late in the first quarter, the Jets attempted to run an outside zone to their right. Anderson read the play quickly, taking on a tight end and getting his hands inside immediately, allowing him to drive the tight end back and force the running back inside, where Payne, Allen and Ziggy Hood suffocated the runner at the line of scrimmage.
2. The pass rush was impressive, too
The starters also provided a good pass rush up front. While Payne saw double teams against the run, the Jets made sure Allen was doubled in pass protection. Allen still managed to generate pressure working against two, but it was Payne who got to the quarterback. His first sack with the Redskins came on a play during which the Jets left him one-on-one against the right guard. Payne flashed his hands at the guard early, causing the guard to react by lunging at him. Payne quickly took advantage of the guard, swatting his hands down with a club before skipping past him inside and chasing down the quarterback.
Washington’s front four generated enough pressure to close the pocket around Jets rookie quarterback Sam Darnold. Kerrigan and Preston Smith are known quantities, being able to rush off the edge, but the Redskins saw a noticeable difference with Allen and Payne pushing the pocket from inside. On Smith’s sack, all four provided a strong push, closing the pocket around Darnold while allowing the Redskins to drop seven into coverage. Darnold had nowhere to throw and nowhere to go in the pocket, leading to Smith getting his sack.
3. Alex Smith was solid in his brief outing
New quarterback Alex Smith played only the opening series but led the offense on an 11-play, 71-yard drive that resulted in a field goal. He took a hit on the first play of the game as the Jets had a free rusher on the back side of a naked bootleg, But Smith managed to get rid of the ball and find his target before taking the hit; he bounced back up with a smile on his face. After that, he looked very comfortable, taking whatever the defense gave him. His most impressive play came on third and eight, moving calmly within the pocket to avoid a rusher before finding wide receiver Josh Doctson over the middle for a first down.
4. Cam Sims stands out after shaky start
Undrafted rookie free agent wide receiver Cam Sims showed the ups and downs one would expect from a rookie trying to make the final roster. After impressing last week against the Patriots, Sims earned more snaps earlier in the game against the Jets. However, after running free over the middle in the red zone, Sims made a critical error, attempting to body-catch a pass from Colt McCoy. The ball bounced off him and into the hands of Jets defensive back Doug Middleton for an interception.
Sims did his best to make up for that mistake. On the next drive, he made a terrific 27-yard catch on third and 10. Sims ran a strong route, working inside on his release to create space for him to break outside on his corner route. With the ball in the air, Sims showed great body control, turning in the air, grabbing the ball over the top of a cornerback and holding onto the pass as a safety landed a big hit.
A few plays later, Sims made a highlight catch in the back of the end zone, although the play was called back due to an illegal formation penalty. Sims caught the eye again late in the fourth quarter, making another fantastic adjustment to the ball in the air to pull in a 20-yard catch that put the Redskins in position for their game-winning field goal.
5. Kapri Bibbs steps up after more injuries to running backs
After losing rookie Derrius Guice for the season last week, the Redskins suffered more injuries at running back. Both Samaje Perine and Byron Marshall left the game with injuries, although neither appeared to be serious. That left Kapri Bibbs with extended playing time with the second team. He made some solid runs, including one inside run where he bounced off a couple of tackles on his way to a hard-earned five yards. He also picked up a big gain on a screen pass, which he set up nicely with a fake block before leaking into the flat.
Bibbs must continue to improve his pass protection. Against the Jets, he made one strong blitz pickup when he was forced to block a defensive tackle. He didn’t back down from the challenge, staying low and landing a strong punch to stand up the defensive tackle long enough for quarterback Colt McCoy to get his throw away.
With the injuries to the running back group, Bibbs has an opportunity to see more reps and force the Redskins to keep him on their final roster. If he continues to show he can contribute in all facets of the game — as a runner, receiver and blocker — Bibbs could be tough for Washington to let go.
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