The Washington Redskins faced stiff competition Saturday night in a 33-31 preseason loss to the Chicago Bears.
It was a tale of two halves for Washington, who saw their first team offense struggle and their defense lose two starters to injury. Robert Griffin III had his share of growing pains, and the starting offense was only able to score three points one half of action. The second half saw the Redskins come back to take a brief 31-30 lead before the Bears Robbie Gould hit a 57 yard field goal to win it.
Keeping in mind that this is still only preseason, here are some takeaways from Saturday's game:
The first team secondary did not have a great night. The Redskins starting secondary didn't do much to quell fan concerns about their ability to be consistent in 2012. Bears quarterback Jay Cutler and receiver Brandon Marshall were having field days against a Redskins pass defense that was allowing receivers to get wide open through most of the first half.
Things started poorly on the first pass attempt for the Bears. DeAngelo Hall lined up at free safety, with Josh Wilson and Cedric Griffin lining up on the outside receivers. Marshall beat Griffin and found an opening between him and Hall for a 41 yard completion. Subsequent plays looked eerily similar, as Bears receivers were the beneficiary of spotty coverage, bad angles, and defenders occasionally slipping or missing tackles.
It's only one game, and a preseason one at that, so it's too early to make judgements about the Redskins new look defensive backfield. Perhaps Saturday night's performance was not a sign of what's to come. Regardless, the Redskins are counting on their secondary to step up this season and supplement what is expected to be a strong front seven.
Kirk Cousins is continues to show progress. There's no doubt that Cousins was the player of the game for the Redskins. Going 18 for 23 for 264 yards and three touchdowns in one half will usually earn you that distinction. Playing against the Bears' second and third stringers, Cousins was poised, accurate and decisive. He got the ball out on time, rarely looked rattled and seemed to have a good command of the offense. No, there isn't a quarterback controversy. But what's important is that Cousins is showing the type of progress and that has to make the Redskins coaching staff feel good about the future of the backup QB position.
Aldrick Robinson showed off his versatility. While Robinson's six catches for 104 yards certainly helps his case for making the 53 man roster, it was the way he got there that was perhaps even more impressive. Robinson was able to get open on a variety of routes, showing the coaching staff that he's more than just. Five of his six receptions came on different patterns, including a slant, out, a back shoulder throw and an option route that he caught and extended into a 49 yard score.
"[On that play], I've got the option to take it deep or set it down. I saw the safety peeking at me," Robinson told the media after the game. He chose to to cut the route off, creating the separation needed to make the catch.
It's clear at this point that Robinson is in a fight for that last receiver spot along with newcomer Dezmon Briscoe and return man Brandon Banks. Robinson has more polish as a pass catcher, but unlike Banks (who had a return touchdown), doesn't have as much experience in the return game.
Richard Crawford adds something new to his game. Another week, another moment to shine for the seventh round pick out of SMU. This week, Crawford added a new wrinkle to his game against the Bears: Playing from the slot. Not only was it his first time covering inside receivers this preseason, but it was also his first chance to apply pressure. He blitzed from the slot twice, forcing rushed throws from Josh McCown each time.
"This is my first time playing nickel," he told reporters after the game. "That's my first time really hitting the QB."
And for the second week in a row, he was around the ball, notching two pass breakups in limited action in the second half. Crawford now has two good preseason appearances to go along with a solid training camp, and it's fair to say at this point he has a legitimate shot to make the team as its fifth cornerback.
This week should be filled with a great deal of intrigue, as top overall pick Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts come to Fed Ex Field for the third preseason game, otherwise known as the "dress rehearsal" . Luck vs. RGIII will certainly grab the headlines most of the week, but it'll be even more interesting to see the rest of the Redskins first teamers in action for more than a half.
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