Back to Basics
Ah, it’s mid-August and, as we put the Orioles permanently in the rear view mirror for the 11th straight year, the sound of football pads thumping and helmets cracking herald the return of football to M&T Bank. It’s back to my corner end zone “unenhanced” seat in the lower bowl, beer in hand, with the rest of the sweating masses.
Anyway, what are preseason games for? Greeting fellow season ticket holders (those that bothered to show up, that is) after a 7 month hiatus, watching the draft choices play and develop, keeping an eye on the bubble players to whom these games mean the most, and hoping nobody gets seriously hurt. Well, 3 out of 4 isn’t bad. Here are my observations from an otherwise meaningless exhibition game from a semi-empty Purple Vault Thursday night.
While it was gratifying to see the Ravens play their usually hungry D and the offense ranked up 500 total yards with a 35 minute ball possession advantage, the truth is the Redskins played a terrible game. They didn’t execute, missed tackles, and gave the general impression they wanted to get it over with as soon as possible. Like their equally hapless Washington baseball neighbors, they can’t spell names right. It’s Betts, not Bettis. Jim Zorn, a good man, is on the fast track to becoming a quarterbacks coach on another team, probably next year.
Michael Oher is a Beast. Wow! A couple of pancake blocks, a bloodied forehead, a mean streak on every play. After many, many years the revolving door at right tackle has just ground to a halt.
Troy Smith had his best game as a Pro. OK, he was wild with some throws, but, in his defense, the receivers had several drops. Troy was comfortable in the pocket and, with his athleticism, easily avoided the Redskin rush when necessary. Too bad it was in a preseason game. That said, he could be our Michael Vick without the baggage.
Paul Kruger was all over the field last night. As advertised, he was # 99 Michael McCrary reincarnated. Unfortunately he didn’t hit anybody until the 4th quarter. If Kruger ever figures out where he’s supposed to be, the kid is going to be a disruptive force.
Ray Rice seems faster and stronger than last year and now he knows what he’s doing and where he’s going. You have to love his pass catching skills. A healthy three-headed monster of Rice, McGahee and McClain will help makeup for a deep-threat wide receiver we still don’t have.
Lardarius Webb looks like he might stick more than stick. I was more impressed with him than any of the other newbies in the defensive backfield and special teams. It’s only one game, but I think this Division I-AA product is not only going to make the roster but contribute in a couple of places.
The Linebackers all had good games. I couldn’t separate the good from the bad because everybody played well. However Antwan Barnes really stood out with his tackling and position play. The cuts at this position could be very, very tricky.
Oniel Cousins had too many stupid penalties and, when he wasn’t holding somebody wearing a burgundy jersey, the Redskin’s Brian Arapko took him to the woodshed.
Dominque Foxworth was badly beaten a couple of times and was totally out of position when, on the first possession, only a poorly thrown pass by Jason Campbell prevented a Redskins touchdown. He also was flat out run over by Redskin receivers on occasion. Disappointing.
Chris Carr as a returner. Chris Carr as a d-back. Based on Thursday night, he looked no better than Yamon Figurs. Or B.J. Sams, Corey Ivy, or Evan Oglesby for that matter. But he gets a hall pass from me until next Monday night to see if he can step it up.
Kelley Washington’s performance at wide receiver may have put him at the head of the short list of backups, but he’s got to knock off the showboating after every catch. It’s preseason, Pal. And you didn’t catch a touchdown. Washington joins Frank Walker on my preseason All-Annoyance List.
Serious injuries to Marcus Smith and John Beck. Smith is out for the season and Beck has a sore shoulder. This is the last thing you want to take away from a preseason game.
Lately, several PF24X7 bloggers have cranked up the Anti-Anita crusade to new levels. I saw a post where there’s a fireanitamarks.com web site up and running. And it is. Believe me, I feel your pain.
But do what I did. If you don’t like the Mistress of Miami, don’t listen to the damn station when she’s on the air! I tuned her out permanently several months ago and I’ve had no trouble keeping up with B-more sports news with no opinionated, uninformed drivel.
There are options. Jerry Coleman is a fine substitute over on the AM side. He and his guests are always informed, topical, and entertaining. That said, Jerry and his producer have got to ditch the sophomoric sound effects…….
Next Monday, let’s welcome back with a standing ovation Rex Ryan, Bart Scott, and Jim Leonard as the Rex Jets come to town. And then beat the crap out of them and their pretty boy quarterback.