ReFo: WAS @ TB, Preseason WK 4
Ben Stockwell takes a look at who put themselves forward for a roster spot as the Redskins took on the Bucs.
ReFo: WAS @ TB, Preseason WK 4
The final week of preseason is used by many teams as a chance to wrap their Week 1 starters in cotton wool, while others feel the need to give their starters another quick hit-up before pulling them for most of the game. Both the Washington Redskins and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers fell into the first group, with the lower end of the roster being given an extended chance to earn their spot on the team.
As a contest, this wasn’t much. The Redskins jumped out to a lead and the Buccaneers never looked capable of getting back into the game, even after a defensive touchdown by Najee Goode. The momentum for that play didn’t even continue into the ensuing extra point as Derek Dimke clanged his kick off the right upright. If there were spots up for grabs in the lower reaches of the Buccaneers’ final 53-man roster, then the players on show didn’t do much against the Redskins to give Greg Schiano and his coaching staff a final reminder of why they should be around this time next week.
Conversely, the Redskins’ coaching staff saw plenty of players make a final claim for their spots, especially on defense where the Redskins appear to have a lot of tough decisions to make.
Washington – Three Performances of Note
Pashos Does What’s Asked of Him
This was Tony Pashos’ first start of the preseason and takes his preseason snap total up to 191, fourth-most among Redskins’ offensive players. After another strong display (with the caveat of playing the depths of the Bucs’ roster) questions must continue to be asked over whether Pashos should be getting a crack to start ahead of Tyler Polumbus at right tackle. Polumbus started the first three preseason games rather unspectacularly, but it was his performances last season at right tackle for the Redskins that should raise concern. A -21.7 overall grade, including a -19.0 pass protection grade, marked out one of the league’s worst right tackles. Through three preseason games he has allowed one sack and two hurries to go with a -2.5 run blocking grade on a limited 54 snaps. Pashos hasn’t played since 2011 when he earned a +12.0 grade for the Browns (+14.7 pass protection). If Polumbus replicates his 2012 struggles the Redskins could do far worse than give Pashos his chance to unseat him.
Defensive Line Shines Again
The Redskins’ most impressive position group from top to bottom this preseason has been their defensive line, and they’ll have to let some intriguing players go when they make their final cuts in a few days. They have seven players sitting on a +2.0 grade or higher through preseason, even though only one of their defensive linemen has topped 90 snaps. Among last night’s starters, Phillip Merling (+2.0) shone as a pass rusher with a couple of hurries and a batted pass on only 10 pass rushes, while Chris Baker was stout with his run defense. Then Ron Brace (+1.2) and particularly Chigbo Anunoby (+2.5) made their presence felt as the Tampa Bay ground game suffered. Anunoby got his first extended action late in last night’s game and racked up four defensive stops as he got about making sure he made an impression in the waning moments of Washington’s preseason. Considering how underwhelming their defensive line was for much of last season, could the Redskins be in for improved play up front in 2013?
Cruel Fate for Dezmon Briscoe
For many the final game of preseason is your final chance to shine, and Dezmon Briscoe must have known he needed a big game on Thursday against the Bucs having put down a pair of passes on five targets in his first three outings. He got off to a flying start with a 66-yard gain, breaking a pair of tackles (including one from Bucs’ rookie Johnthan Banks) to get upfield on Pat White’s first completion of the game, before adding to that with a 9-yard gain on a receiver screen,again breaking a tackle. After such a fine start this could’ve been a big game at a crucial point for Briscoe, but instead he went down injured after three snaps and now faces the uncertainty of his injury prognosis, as well as the uncertainty of the Redskins’ final cut down.
Tampa Bay – Three Performances of Note
Uninspiring Audition by Glennon
Considering all the talk about the potential for a quarterback competition in Tampa Bay this season, Mike Glennon did nothing last night (and little in the totality of preseason) to suggest he’s any better an option than Josh Freeman at this point. While not helped by his receivers — three drops — Glennon’s accuracy and decision-making was big a problem. He has flashed an ability to get the ball down the field in preseason (+2.6 and 4/9 for 127 yards on deep pass attempts) but his accuracy and decision-making on short passes is a clear weakness. Through preseason Glennon has gone 14/28 on short passes and has a passing grade of -3.8 on those throws.
Underwhelming Bookend for Wallace
Having started his preseason poorly playing most of the game against the Ravens, Cody Wallace would have hoped to replicate his two solid intervening games — but his return to Tampa brought with it more struggles as a run blocker. In 113 snaps at home to the Ravens and Redskins, Wallace has earned a -6.9 run block grade and a -5.5 overall grade. While in the intervening games in New England and Miami Wallace registered a +0.5 run block grade on 62 snaps. Which Wallace is the real one, and how will the Bucs go about making the decision of whether or not he makes the cut to the final 53? Wallace has versatility on his side and has split his preseason workload between center (101 snaps) and right guard (74 snaps) which is always a help for a backup lineman trying to make the roster. Can that versatility, two solid road outings and his work in training camp outweigh what have been two very poor run blocking performances in the Buccaneers’ two home preseason games?
Letdown Displays All-around
Outside a pair of plays (pass defense and pick-six) in coverage by Najee Goode (+2.4 coverage) there really wasn’t a lot of good about the Buccaneers’ performance last night. The defense missed 11 tackles, which nearly doubled their team total for preseason, as they round out exhibition series with 24. Elsewhere on defense, only Ka’Lial Glaud graded above +1.0 in run defense (with three stops), and only three defenders (Goode, Adam Hayward and Gary Gibson) graded positively as pass rushers. On special teams, Derek Dimke missed the aforementioned extra point and missed from 45 yards as well, which left points on the field and hurt his chances of making the roster.
– David Amerson got his first interception of preseason, picking-off former collegiate teammate Mike Glennon late in the second quarter.
– The Buccaneers’ intention to protect their running backs was clear. Reserve defensive back Mason Robinson carried the ball nine times, and reserve wide receiver Jordan Norwood carried the ball seven times, the two combining for more than half of the team’s carries.
– After another 35 snaps last night, Chase Minnifield finished the preseason with 134 snaps to top the Redskins’ defensive snap count list. His +4.0 overall grade marks out a strong preseason for the second-year corner.
PFF Game Ball
Playing only 14 snaps before last night’s games, this was the chance to shine for Chigbo Anunoby and he grasped that opportunity with both hands. In a crowded competition for roster spots on the defensive line this might not see Anunoby into the final 53, but it was a good way for him to end preseason.
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Ben Stockwell | Director of Analysis
Ben joined Pro Football Focus in 2007, and has since been in charge of the company’s analysis process. He also contributes to PFF’s weekly NFL podcast.