Week 3 of Pre-season is the most important of the non-important games. You get to see the starters play well into the 3rd quarter, there’s a slight bit of game-planning involve & it’s usually a gauge of how ready your team is for week 1. Needless to say this game would’ve been looked forward to anyway, but it is magnified to new levels with the RG3 vs Luck hype. A lot has been made of Andrew Luck’s first 2 games, in which he has looked very good. However from my observation the Colts aren’t running anything “vanilla” this pre-season for him. They have been very aggressive with their play-calling & putting Luck on display, he’s responded well. With that said there have been unfair comparisons with Luck’s first 2 games to RG3′s first 2 games. Luck has thrown it 41 times in the Colts aggressive approach while RG3 has only 14 attempts seemingly while running a very generic version of the Redskins offense.
Things I’m Watching For (Other than Luck vs RG3)
1. Tim Hightower. Evan Royster will be sidelined this week as well as Roy Helu again. This is Hightower’s first game action since tearing his ACL last year. Tim Hightower had a very strong pre-season last year which led Redskins fans to think Shanahan found his next successful running back. But in the regular season the yards weren’t coming as easily for Hightower only averaging 3.8 ypc in 5 games played. But it’s obvious that Shanahan likes the veteran running back because he’s a complete back, but it’s interesting to see how effective he’ll be coming off this injury & his job isn’t completely safe with Alfred Morris emerging.
2. Fred Davis. I’ve been asked about 5 times this week, “What’s up with Fred Davis? I heard he isn’t looking too good”. Davis hasn’t been targeted by RG3 in his 14 pass attempts. There’s probably a number of reasons why that’s the case. One could be that the coaches know what they have in Davis & want to give Niles Paul more opportunities to speed up his transition as a TE. Another likely thing is that he & RG3 just simply haven’t established a chemistry yet. In any case the offense this week will have a lot more opportunities to show some things, so I’ll be watching to see if we see Fred Davis get involved.
3. Anthony Armstrong. Hasn’t played all pre-season, & has a LOT of ground to make up in this deep position battle. If last week was any indication, Aldrick Robinson & Dezmon Briscoe really increased their chances to grab the last two position spots. Armstrong has an edge over Briscoe in that he plays special teams, but Briscoe has the size advantage that the team doesn’t have much of at the receiver position. Armstrong’s down year last year already had him on the bubble for this year, & missing the first two games certainly hasn’t helped his chances.
4. I’m looking to see if the offense shows any hints of opening up for this game. Certainly the Colts as they’ve shown all pre-season, they’ll throw everything at the Redskins defense. I’m wondering if Shanny’s competitive edge makes him try to throw some things back & unleash RG3 a bit to make a point.
5. The offensive line. After a pretty good showing against the Bills in the first game, the O-line played pretty poorly against the Bears. Particularly the young guards such as Adam Gettis really struggled. Chris Chester, last year’s starting RG will play his first game this week, so now the o-line will have 3 regular starters playing in this game. Now is the time for the line to start getting in sync & give RG3 a comfort level in the pocket.
6. The pass rush. In the first couple of quarters last week I was really disappointed in the Redskins pass rush. It was non-existent. Jay Cutler was making cold cuts in the pocket. It will be really frustrating if this team has to design all sorts of exotic blitzes just to generate any pressure. Defensive line was supposed to be this team’s biggest strength, & with so question marks in the secondary it’s imperative that this team gets a consistent pass rush.
7. Tackling. Last week’s display of tackling was embarrassing to watch. I know London was out, but it was very disappointing to see the effort guys lacked in tackling the Bears last week. Hopefully that wasn’t a pre-cursor of things to come.
8. Andrew Luck vs the Redskins defense. I like to take the Jim Zorn approach to pre-season. Don’t get too high or too low, keep it medium, because it’s just pre-season. However, I don’t know how I’d feel if Andrew Luck comes in & dominates this defense. Andrew Luck looks very good but I don’t want a rookie QB carving our defense up, pre-season or not. I’m hoping to see the defense ramped up & playing with a little sense of urgency this game.
9. More Richard Crawford. It would be a shame in my eyes if Cedric Griffin is above Richard Crawford on the depth chart. Griffin IMO shouldn’t even make this team. Richard Crawford looks nothing like a 7th round pick. He has great ball skills, & is impressing even his own teammates. I’m anxious to watch him play every week now.
10. The kicking battle. Haven’t got a chance to see much of these guys with the Skins only kicking one field goal in 2 games. But from what I hear Neil Rackers is currently leading this battle. I want to see if Graham Gano makes a gain if given the opportunity this game.
Bonus Question: I know Josh Morgan is a lock for this team, but I’m wondering has he shown enough to warrant a top 4 spot in the receiving corps?