The action will increase tonight as the Redskins take on the Jets in their home preseason debut. How much? In Atlanta last week the Washington starters played a minimal amount of snaps, and Kirk Cousins threw just five passes. Expect that to jump up at FedEx Field. For all the action, tune to CSN at 6:30 p.m. for Redskins Kickoff, followed by a full HD broadcast of the game at 7:30. After the game stick around for a full hour of live postgame with reports from FedEx Field and reaction from Brian Mitchell. Now here's what to watch tonight:
- Increased workload - In Atlanta the Redskins starting groups were mostly sent out to regain the speed of live NFL football. Against the Jets, more will be asked of the starters. Expect the offense to play about the whole first quarter, and one Redskins coach made clear he wants to see the starting unit put up points - something that escaped the group against the Falcons.
- Establish the run? - Matt Jones and Keith Marshall got nothing going on the ground last week before a second half rush attack improved with Robert Kelley. The Redskins staff appreciated Kelley's efforts, but the team needs to see more from Jones and Marshall. Most importantly, Washington wants to get Matt Jones enough carries to get into the flow of the game. Against the Falcons, Jones got just two carries, though a third succesful run was called back by penalty. Expect his total to get closer to seven or eight runs against the Jets, a team with a stout run defense that will give the 'Skins a good test.
- 'Stop beating ourselves' - Preseason football is usually sloppy, and last week proved no exception. The Redskins got flagged for 14 penalties. 14! The coaching staff harped on penalties all week in practice, and both OC Sean McVay and DC Joe Barry said their units must focus on eliminating the penalties and "stop beating ourselves." Though the Skins starting offense played a minimal amount of snaps, the team moved the ball well, save for two penalties that thwarted their lone drive. Defensively, Barry was particularly perturbed by offsides penalties as the team was not drawn off by a hard count or motion. Instead, players just aligned themselves offside, something that is inexcusable for Barry.
- Stop the long ball - On Thursday, Barry explained that the Redskins gave up four "explosion passes" to the Falcons. Burned repeatedly by Aldrick Robinson, Washington's defense must do a better job of limiting the big gainers through the air, and much of that comes in better communication and knowing assignments. August is the time to figure that stuff out, especially for players further down the depth chart, but the Redskins brass wants to be sure they see improvement in that category against the Jets offense with weapons like Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker.
- Out of the end zone? - For years, special teams have been a problem for the Redskins, particularly on kick and punt coverage units. While specialists like Dustin Hopkins and Tress Way played well in Atlanta, the 'Skins gave up a 101-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to open up the second half. Allowing big special teams returns will bury Washington this fall as they face a tougher schedule, and it may give head coach Jay Gruden and special teams coordinator Ben Kotwica a hard time when deciding a strategy on kickoffs. With the rule change this season that brings touchbacks out to the 25-yard-line instead of the 20-yard-line, having Hopkins kick the ball out of the end zone brings increased questions. Though if the team proves unable to cover kickoffs, the coaches may decide that attempting shorter kicks is not worth the risk.
One hugely important item was omitted - no injuries. If NFL coaches could have one guarantee for preseason games, it's that players don't sustain major injuries. Certainly the Jets and Redskins brass feel that way. Stay with @JPFinlayCSN throughout Friday for updates and live intel from the stadium.