ReFo: WAS @ TEN, Preseason Wk 1
Our preseason reviews continue with Steve Palazzolo's look at the the Redskins narrow win over the Titans. But it's preseason, so who stood out on the field?
ReFo: WAS @ TEN, Preseason Wk 1
At the request of the fans and NFL teams, we’ve decided to expand our analysis to preseason action — certainly well worth the extra month-long workload. It’s a great time to get a first glimpse at the rookies, while checking in on any progression from second- and third-year players who may find themselves on the roster bubble. Most importantly, it’s football, and who doesn’t want to watch and analyze the game we love?
As for this particular game, the Washington Redskins defeated the Tennessee Titans as Mike Shanahan avoided overtime with his decision to go for two late in the fourth quarter. A Pat White-to-Emmanuel Ogbuehi conversion put the Redskins on top for good, and thankfully so, as even the biggest diehards often cringe at the idea of preseason overtime games. As always, wins and losses are mostly futile but player performances are of utmost importance. Let’s take a look at the game’s most notable.
Washington – Three Performances of Note
The Redskins used two draft picks on guards in the 2012 draft, selecting Josh LeRibeus in the third round (71st overall) and Adam Gettis in the fifth (141st overall). LeRibeus played only 22 regular season snaps, though he did fill in admirably in the Wild Card round against the Seattle Seahawks, grading at +1.6 after starter Kory Lichtensteiger went down to injury. Gettis didn’t see the field during his rookie campaign.
Though Lichtensteiger returns after signing a five-year contract during the offseason, his injury history and last year’s -11.4 grade are likely reasons to give LeRibeus a chance at cracking the starting lineup. Unfortunately for him, it was a rough first night as he got an extended look (46 snaps) but graded at -5.1. Most of his issues came in pass protection (-4.9) as he surrendered two hits and two hurries on his 27 pass block attempts. It was mostly Titans defensive tackle Karl Klug who gave LeRibeus problems, as the Titan beat him almost immediately on back-to-back snaps in the middle of the first quarter. LeRibeus was also late to react to a blitz from rookie cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson early in the third.
For Gettis, it wasn’t a perfect outing, but he finished at +0.9 with his most notable work coming in the running game where he made some nice reach blocks in the Redskins’ zone scheme. Even though Chris Chester is firmly entrenched as the starter at right guard, Gettis looks a good fit for the scheme and he’s certainly in line to fill a valuable backup role in his second season.
One of the more interesting stories during the draft process was that of CB David Amerson who came into the season with Top-10 aspirations before landing in Washington in the second round at No. 51 overall. His issues at NC State generally involved deep passes that forced him to turn and run, though he showed an excellent ability to play the ball when it was thrown underneath. The Titans didn’t challenge him deep and Amerson was able to play to his strengths, grading at +3.0 overall, including +2.3 in coverage. He made a nice play to recover and get a hand on a deep hitch route to wide receiver Kenny Britt, and later stonewalled Britt for a 3-yard gain on 3rd-and-4 as he broke nicely on the short route. Amerson even got involved in the run game, setting the edge after taking on left tackle Byron Stingley’s pull block in the middle of the second quarter. Despite many draft analysts citing Amerson as a better fit at free safety, the Redskins are giving him a shot at cornerback and he played 26 of his 28 snaps at RCB while covering the slot on his other two.
It was a tough loss when outside linebacker Brian Orakpo went down for the year early in Week 2 last season, but he was back on the field albeit with mixed results on Thursday night. Starting with the good, and perhaps most important to Redskins fans, he appears to have his explosion off the edge, as he beat LT Michael Roos for a sack at the 5:06 mark in the first quarter. The sack was his lone pressure on his five rushes, but it was certainly a welcome sight after the Redskins had a revolving door of players trying to replace his production a year ago.
Along with the good came some bad as Orakpo looked rusty in the running game. He was one of the main culprits on running back Chris Johnson’s highlight-reel 58-yard touchdown run, as well as RB Shonn Greene’s 19-yard touchdown run. On Johnson’s touchdown, the Titans ran their outside zone play away from Orakpo who took a bad angle down the line of scrimmage making for an easy cutback for Johnson that vaulted him into the open field. Greene’s run was a bit different as they ran right at Orakpo and tight end Craig Stevens planted him on the ground to help open a huge hole. Throw in a neutral zone infraction and it was an eventful return for Orakpo, but still an encouraging one for Redskins fans.
Tennessee – Three Performances of Note
While it’s certainly not overreaction time, first-round rookie RG Chance Warmack had a difficult time in his first NFL action. It started on the first play from scrimmage as defensive end Jarvis Jenkins stood him up and easily found the ballcarrier for the tackle. Just two plays later Warmack went up against OLB Ryan Kerrigan who lined up at 3-technique and easily worked him to the outside for the sack. Things settled down a bit after the first series, though at the 12:59 mark in the second quarter Warmack failed to latch onto a double team with the center leaving DT Chris Neild an easy path to make the tackle for a short gain on an inside run.
Despite the lowlights, Warmack got better as the game progressed and the sack was the only pressure he surrendered on his 14 pass block attempts.
Keep on Klugging
It’s becoming commonplace for the Titans to uncover mid-round defensive tackle gems, as they’ve added Karl Klug, Jurrell Casey and Mike Martin in the last two drafts, all of which have exceeded their draft status. Klug was dominant in his 27-snap outing grading at +4.3 overall while picking up two hits and one hurry and two stops in the running game. He threw his entire repertoire at LeRibeus as he picked up all three pressures against the left guard, beating him to the inside, outside, and on a bull rush. Klug also did a nice job moving blockers in the running game while rarely losing his gap. He’s been an above-average pass rusher since entering the league in 2011, but if he continues to improve his work against the run he’ll be in line for even more playing time in his third season.
Lots of Action for Wreh-Wilson
Only free safety Al Alfalfa played more than Blidi Wreh-Wilson’s 45 snaps, as the third-round rookie got an extended look in the preseason opener. He graded at -2.0 overall, including -1.6 in coverage. The Redskins completed four of the six passes thrown his way for 24 yards and a touchdown that came on a wide receiver screen to WR Leonard Hankerson. The next time he saw the screen pass, however, Wreh-Wilson made a nifty play to get inside WR Lance Lewis’ block and force the play back into his teammates. Among the other positives was his ability to get to the quarterback as he picked up two pressures on his only two attempts, though one was negated by penalty.
On the negative side, Wreh-Wilson gave up two other first downs to go along with the touchdown, while a drop saved him from another first down. He was also run through by Evan Royster at the end of the fourth quarter, one of only three missed tackles for the Titans on the day. Despite an up-and-down day, Wreh-Wilson got a lot of experience as he works to crack the cornerback rotation in Tennessee.
— Though he’s expected to start at center, Fernando Velasco played all 40 of his snaps at guard (14 LG, 26 RG). He looked out of place, grading at -5.4 overall.
— Redskins QB Pat White had a nice showing, grading at +3.5 overall while picking up 33 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
— Redskins fifth-round rookie OLB Brandon Jenkins played 30 snaps after missing the majority of his senior season at Florida State. He picked up one QB hit on his 16 pass rushes, though it was nullified by a penalty.
PFF Game Ball
Karl Klug showed his worth as both a pass rusher and against the run on his way to a game-best +4.7 grade.
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