The preseason is finally over. The Redskins open up Sunday against the New York Giants. Ryan O’Halloran and News 4’s Lindsay Czarniak talk about the 53-man roster, break-out players and make a picks for the game and season.
1. The preseason is finally over and the Redskins finalized their 53-man roster on Saturday. What was the biggest surprise cut and surprise make on the roster?
L: To me the biggest surprise cut was Chase Daniel. I actually thought it was lucky the Redskins would choose to keep Daniel over Colt Brennan and with Colt headed to IR. I was a little surprised that the Redskins chose to go without a No. 3 QB. I do, however think it’s a good move to keep two active with added room somewhere else, as in giving Marcus Mason a shot as the fourth running back. The biggest surprise make to me is Edwin Williams. I expected the undrafted free agent center to fall victim to a numbers game but the Redskins like their talent from College Park and Edwin has to be the most fun interview right now in the locker room. He has overcome an immense amount of adversity growing up and he is now officially on the roster of the team he has always followed – pretty cool.
R: Biggest surprise cut was, well, no one really. Releasing Jeremy Bridges was a surprise since he worked most of the preseason with the second offensive line unit but he was unimpressive as the right tackle. I agree with Lindsay that Edwin Williams is the surprise make and I would throw two other names – offensive tackle D’Anthony Batiste and linebacker Robert Henson. I didn’t hear a lot of buzz about Batiste during training camp but the coaches liked how he moves his feet in pass protection. And Henson struggled in the first few preseason games and I thought Cody Glenn would get the nod instead of Henson but he flashed against Jacksonville.
2. The Redskins went 1-3 but who cares about the record – how would you guys grade the preseason?
L: Preseason record schmecord. The main things I was interested in gleaning from the preseason was a) how did Jason Campbell look from the limited time we saw him. I give him a B and that’s far above passing in my book. Against the Steelers, Redskins fans were pushing the panic button because of the stats (1-of-7 for 10 yards) but too much focus was put on that. Whether you believe Zorn when he said he was happy with Jason’s decision-making, it doesn’t matter. He took the field against the Patriots and took risks – I like the added confidence he’s showing and I love the chances he’s taking downfield. I was also really interested to watch the secondary reserve players try to dig out of a hole that they so blatantly exposed in game one and I thought they did. Justin Tryon learned where he needed to be and while Kevin Barnes needs to show more intensity, they saw potential.
R: I’d give the Redskins a solid B-minus, which is perfectly serviceable. The biggest thing is they survived training camp without any major injuries – only Colt Brennan was placed on IR and 51 of the 53 players went through the whole Wednesday practice. I’ll add a Campbell thought to what Lindsay said – Jason is a tempo passer, he needs to get into an early rhythm, experience early success and have a good first few drives to have a good game. That’s what he did against New England and Jacksonville. Zorn’s play calling tailored to the strengths of his quarterback. Defensively, the good news was getting Albert Haynesworth acclimated to the scheme and seeing rookie Brian Orakpo all over the field at several positions.
3. Who are your selections for breakout player (one offense, one defense) this season?
L: My breakout player on offense is Marcus Mason – not that people would be shocked to see him break off some big runs but I think it would surprise people if he got a huge opportunity. That is what I predict to happen, though. If he can improve his special teams work the Redskins could have some decisions to make as far as which running backs to activate come game day. Defense breakout player is Chris Wilson – he won’t show the flash and awe that a cornerback can elicit with the turnovers and such but he’s been impressive with his transition to linebacker. He can be an underrated compliment to the headlining Brian Orakpo.
R: Breakout offensive player – receiver Malcolm Kelly. He seized the No. 2 receiver spot from Antwaan Randle El so the opportunities will be there for the second-year player to get downfield and also work the sidelines for catches. He’s come a long way since his February knee surgery and it’s important to note that he won the No. 2 job, he wasn’t given the No. 2 job. Breakout defensive player – I’ll listen to the masses and pick safety LaRon Landry. He’s been OK in his first two years but I expect more interceptions and big plays this year. It’s time for him to take the next step in his development.
4. Heading into the regular season opener Sunday against the New York Giants, what’s the biggest concern on offense and defense?
L: On offense, it’s got to be if the Redskins offensive line is capable of really giving Jason Campbell enough time. It’s crucial Jason is able to establish a rhythm and start off the season strong and if the line can remain healthy, he has no excuses. On defense, I want to say nothing because I feel like the Redskins right now are a personified Mac truck but, I would say you’ve got to wonder if Haynesworth is going to feel wear and tear and last as much as they expect this season. That would be the question mark in my book.
R: Offense – I agree with the pass protection but I’ll add the question of whether a receiver will rise up to compliment Santana Moss and Chris Cooley. The Redskins were too predictable, especially in the red zone because teams double teamed Moss and Cooley. If Kelly or Thomas or even Davis can establish themselves, the Redskins will be more dangerous. Defense – Sacks and turnovers. It’s what the Redskins tried to address with Haynesworth, Hall and Orakpo, but I’ll believe it when I see it.
5. You’ll both be at the Meadowlands on Sunday. Two predictions – who wins the game and what is the Redskins final record?
L: It’s obvious – the Redskins went and signed Andre Woodson, the Giants former practice squad quarterback so of course they’ll win. He’s spilling all of Coughlin’s secrets, remember? Just kidding. It is funny though that he’s getting text messages telling him not to share. The Redskins will win because the Giants receiving corps shows potential, but aren’t a proven collective talent and the Redskins D-line will be able to stop Jacobs more effectively with more focus being paid to Albert Haynesworth. Redskins 20-13. Final Redskins record is 10-6, enough to make the playoffs.
R: This is just a bad match up for the Redskins. They might have as many good players as the Giants, but New York’s pass rush will prove to be just too much. The Giants won’t exactly pile up the yards either so it’s going to be a good NFC East fist fight. Giants win 16-13. For the season, the Redskins really do have some good pieces and defensively, they’ll be able to stop people. But I don’t expect the offensive line to last physically and that will ultimately result in a 9-7 record and no playoffs.