1. Second-year linebacker Ryan Kerrigan continues to work on staying low. It’s helped him explode into blockers better and he consistently gains position on tight ends in the run game. But he still has a habit of taking his pass-rush line too straight upfield. When this happens, Kerrigan tends to round off his pass rush and isn’t as much of a threat. Kerrigan had better success vs. Chicago when he took an upfield rush, but a more direct angle to the quarterback. It enabled him to rush with more power and he applied pressure as a result. On the fourth play of the game, his shoulders were square to the rush as he turned and it enabled him to move the tackle back for a pressure. When he gets off low at the line and uses his rip move, he’s been effective this summer. But when he just starts upfield and tries to turn the corner he gets a bit wide.
2. Kerrigan was turned inside several times by the tight end vs. the run and he lost contain on one Michael Bush run that bounced outside. But Kerrigan’s best stop came when he juked the tight end with a hard step to the outside and shot inside for a hit in the backfield (where end Jarvis Jenkins assisted, showing the quickness that got him noticed last spring. On most other rushes Jenkins was about power and moving blockers back).
3. Need to see more evidence that Cedric Griffin can be a quality corner anymore. As a No. 3 corner in this era he’s essentially a starter. While the focus on safety is legitimate given the changes, there’s still a lot that the corners must prove: DeAngelo Hall in the slot and Griffin on the outside. I’m not worried about Josh Wilson, who played well last season. It’s no crime that Griffin was beat by Brandon Marshall on the first play of the game – Marshall is an excellent player. Griffin was a little jumpy at the snap and was forced to open his hips a bit early. Dagger. Again: Brandon Marshall. Griffin later gave a lot of cushion to receiver Alshon Jeffery on his 34-yard catch and run (in fairness he looked to have underneath help). Tough to give a lot of cushion, even when expecting help, against Jay Cutler because of his arm. Tossed bullets all night. Griffin did defend a fade in the end zone to a 6-foot-5 undrafted free agent; gave him no room. Still, can’t say that he’s had a standout camp.
4. Rookie Richard Crawford continues to look like a solid draft pick. After watching him throughout camp and in two games, it’s tough to find reasons why he was a seventh rounder. Crawford plays with good technique and patience, which is why he has rarely been fooled off the line in the slot. On his near pick-six interception drop, Crawford stayed on the inside hip of the receiver, forcing a perfect pass that instead wasn’t. He blitzes well from the slot, thanks to a coordinated effort by the other rushers. He plays with maturity. I like that they’re working him in with the starters; good way to get a feel for what he can do. Best thing I can say is that the game doesn’t look too big for him. I remember when Kevin Barnes was a rookie third-rounder and how much he struggled. Haven’t seen that from Crawford.
5. Tough to say what sort of impact Hall had playing safety in limited duty, though he really didn’t do anything back there. His speed is an asset and he’s a much more willing hitter than ever given credit for (his missed tackle wasn’t about anything other than getting juked). I’d like to see some legitimate action there for him just to see his angles, etc. He’s a very smart player so reading the QB isn’t an issue, but he’s never been known as the most disciplined one either (which Charles Woodson is considered; they might be doing the same things but Woodson is at a different level). But Hall is athletic enough to handle almost any role. Still, he’s a corner.
6. Big plays continue to doom the defense. Happened last year, whether from blown assignments or missed tackles, and it occurred Saturday too. The Bears had three pass plays of at least 30 yards; twice there were defenders in position to make tackles after a modest gain (or no gain) and they missed.\
7. Brandyn Thompson and Samuel Kirkland, among others, didn’t help themselves with their play on the kickoff return for a touchdown. Thompson’s angle could have been better. Kirkland turned Lorenzo Booker inside, but he did so in part because he was juked further outside.
8. The Bears were one of the few teams that seem to try and capitalize on height mismatches with their receivers. Having Marshall helps. But there was some surprise by Redskins coaches last year that teams did not try to take advantage of Josh Wilson being only around 5-foot-9. The Bears did do this with a shot down the left side to Marshall, but Wilson played it well: played with good leverage, got his head around in time and defended the ball. Wilson did drop an interception on a slant route. Looked like the target got tangled up a bit with Marshall, running from the slot, as he headed inside. Guessing the Redskins might lead the league with dropped picks through two preseason games.
9. Lorenzo Alexander plays with force. Last week I said perhaps his special teams experience going through wedges etc., helped him when crashing through on blitzes. After more thought, it’s just who Alexander is and it’s why he’s lasted in the league at multiple spots. It’s a mindset. Anyway, I know he’s still getting used to covering from this spot (and it’s tough to tell with the linebackers sometimes because so much goes into the coverages), but he comes with force when he’s able to play at his speed. Popped the tight end back on one first-quarter run.
10. Saw this a couple times with both nose tackles, where the center allowed them to rush a side and the running back hit the other gap after the handoff. When this happened to Barry Cofield it was not a big issue. One such play resulted in only a four-yard gain (a solid one on first down, but not a backbreaker). It also occurred on Bush’s touchdown, in which Cofield shot between the center and right guard and Bush cut through the other A gap. But it wouldn’t have mattered had Perry Riley made the tackle. Should have been no gain.
11. It happened to Chris Baker, too, when he went inside the right guard. But there was a big gap left, which resulted in a five-yard run (again, not a killer, but Darrion Scott needed to trip up the back or it might have been worse). But on the next play Baker showed quickness and strength when he shot to the right of the center. The tight end came over, but Baker popped into him and knocked him back a step and clogged the middle. Two plays later he abused the (backup) center, driving him back. I did see the center get him on occasion later in the game, but overall Baker was solid. He and Doug Worthington are tough to move.
12. Keenan Robinson seemed to play with a little more speed; came up hard and made a strong tackle inside the 5-yard line. I know there’s a notion that he is new to the inside linebacker spot, but he did play inside at Texas as well. It’s a new defense, but he does have some experience inside.
13. David Jones lost sight of the ball while trying to defend a pass in the end zone. Played it OK, but he struggled to locate the ball after turning around and only a drop by the receiver saved him. Later he was called for pass interference.
14. Reed Doughty showed his veteran savvy when he raced in from behind to strip Chris Summers of the ball. A textbook strip.
15. By the way Cofield might not be making splashy plays; that’s not really his job. But I don’t see him getting driven out at all. At times last year, Cofield would get moved back several yards and use his athleticism to get back into the play. Haven’t seen the need for that as much. Doesn’t mean he’s been perfect, but there is a steadiness in his play. It also helps that few players understand their role as much as Cofield: Keep the linebackers clean. That’s it.
16. Jarvis Jenkins still gets in a little trouble by not bending more at the snap. It’s not as pronounced as last summer, but it still occurs. If he’s going to try to play with power, he’ll need to get his backside a little lower off the snap so he can explode a little more.
17. Like watching coordinated blitzes that work. The Redskins executed two that resulted in consecutive sacks vs. Jason Campbell (note: the Bears still had their first line in the game). On the first, right end Stephen Bowen slanted inside and outside linebacker Rob Jackson rushed hard upfield. That left an opening for Riley to hit for the sack. Next play, similar story. Kerrigan took the tight end on the right side wide. Riley started to blitz, drawing the tackle, but the tackle slid inside when he saw Alexander start to come. The theory: take the inside man. Riley had another free lane.
18. Another missed tackle: Tanard Jackson on a 15-yard catch by tight end Kyle Adams. He gained 10 yards after contact. Jackson was subbing for Brandon Meriweather (who, according to the Washington Post, had no damage to his knee). Rob Jackson was fine as a replacement for Brian Orakpo (again, Post talked to his agent who said he’ll be OK and definitely play in the opener). Jackson plays with good power most of the time; tough for him to match Orakpo’s athleticism.
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