So much for a Preseason banner.  The franchise that has treated us to three straight 3-1 Augusts under coach Jay Gruden is in danger of its first non-winning preseason since 2010.  On the bright side, it’s August.  Many of the players you saw in Thursday’s 23-3 loss at Baltimore will not be around September 10th when Philadelphia drops by Fed Ex Field.  So there’s that.  Also, many of the players expected to be major contributors either saw minimal snaps (Kirk Cousins) or didn’t play at all (Junior Galette) against the Ravens.  Lastly, as it was an interconference loss the Skins would still look pretty good on tiebreakers for an NFC East Preseason title.  As dominant as they’ve been this decade (21-8), the Burgundy and Gold haven’t been the top division team in August since they went 4-0 in 2013.

 

Captain Kirk- the franchise tagged one played just two series, completing 1-2 passes for 5 yards and got sacked once.  He completed no passes to Jordan Reed (who didn’t play) and couldn’t find Josh Doctston downfield (he also sat).  Minus his usual array of weapons and a small sample size, this wasn’t as impressive as last year’s 5-for-5.  But it’s only August.

Backups Back Up- instead of thrilling us like Colt Brennan or the legendary Babe Laufenberg, the Skins backups combined to complete 11 of 25 passes for 108 yards and an interception.  Don’t Colt McCoy and Nate Sudfeld know that this is August?  That’s when Ryan Grant explodes for 5 catches and 100 yards!  Instead, the perennial preseason star notched just one grab for 17–although it did lead to one of the team’s eight first downs.

First Half Glass Half Empty- if you write off the second half as the back ends of both rosters saw the majority of playing time after intermission, they gained just 48 yards on 24 plays from scrimmage in the first and second quarters.  The Ravens? A robust 155 yards on 39 plays.  So the D wasn’t exactly rock-solid either.  Repeat after me: it’s only August.

Running on Empty- the ground game gained just 39 yards on 18 carries…with Samaje Perine leading the way with 15 yards on 6 tries.  But the rookie from Oklahoma also fumbled, dropped a pass and struggled in pass protection.  Decidedly less than ideal…even if it is only August.

Three &…it’s only August- the Burgundy and Gold converted just 2 of 13 third downs against the Ravens.  QB breakdown:  Cousins was sacked, Colt McCoy went 2-4 with one conversion, and Nate Sudfeld went 0-4 with a punt-inducing sack.  Run-pass comparison:  1 for 2 on runs and 1 for 11 on pass plays.  Yardage:  1-3 on short-yardage, 0-3 on medium yardage (in between 4 and 6 yards needed to move the chains) and 1-7 on long-yardage.

Defensively- they did hold the Ravens to 5-15 on third down.  If there was one achilles last year for this defense that did not involve Junior Galette, it was the team’s inability to get off the field on third down.  Zach Virgil and Josh Harvey-Clemons led the D with six stops apiece…while Nico Marley tallied four tackles and a sack.  Zach Brown also had four stops…and gives me hope that I can use his weekly performances to talk “Saved by the Bell”.

Special Situations- remember just a few years ago when the Skins’ kicking game was a nightmare?  Not so in 2017…as Dustin Hopkins connects from 49 yards in his only field goal attempt.  Tress Way punted nine times for an average of 46 yards per kick…and the return game averaged just under 20 yards on kickoffs and 10 yards on punts.  Kick coverage was solid (10 yards per return)…and despite Keenan Reynolds 46 yard punt return, the punt coverage wasn’t embarrassing.  I like the fact that only 2 of Way’s 9 punts were returned…although the 2 touchbacks were less than ideal.

Flying Flags- 7 penalties for 91 yards.  Again, many of these infractions are by players who will not be here this time next month.  So we move on…unless it gets worse as the regulars play more.

Injuries- the defense took a hit with Trent Murphy and Su’ah Cravens both suffering knee injuries.  No word on the severity of either.  The team was going to miss Murphy anyway with the linebacker serving a suspension for PED’s from weeks one through four of the regular season…but the loss of Cravens hurts as the converted linebacker still has strides to make settling into his new position.

One more weekend in Richmond- the team finishes its stay in the Commonwealth’s capital with workouts Saturday and Sunday.

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