The Redskins played terribly on Friday night against the Broncos. Washington lost 29-17 after trailing 17-3 at the half.
It's not worth sugar coating.
The lone bright spot came from the performance of Adrian Peterson, a future Hall of Fame running back who looked like an immediate replacement as a backfield starter.
But, in a twisted way, it's almost worse for the Redskins that the lone bright spot came from a 33-year-old veteran that was signed in late August and practiced only twice before making his game debut.
Peterson was really good, but his stellar play only highlights how poorly the other starters looked.
There is no point in naming names: Almost every starter on offense or defense did not play up to the level of expectations.
After more than three weeks of training camp, and impressive, albeit brief, performances in the preseason, the Redskins defense looked like a much improved unit. Until Friday night.
In 2017, an inability to stop the run buried the Burgundy and Gold defense. That was supposed to be fixed this offseason, with the addition of Daron Payne and Tim Settle and the return of Jonathan Allen.
Well, against the Broncos, the starting defense got gashed on the ground. Through the first quarter, when all starters were on the field, the 'Skins were giving up about six yards per carry. If you're scoring at home, that's awful.
The passing game wasn't much better.
Denver QB Case Keenum completed 66 percent of his passes for nearly 150 yards ... in the first half.
The Redskins air attack did not find nearly the same success. Alex Smith completed just three of eight passes for 33 yards. If not for Peterson's burst, the Washington first team offensive output would have been downright embarrassing. It is only fair to point out that the offense was still missing key players; Jamison Crowder, Jordan Reed and Chris Thompson at the top of the list.
Once the second half started, both teams started to empty their benches and it gets harder to ascertain exactly what happened and who looked good and where schemes and plays break down. But when it mattered, early, Denver outplayed Washington by a significant margin.
Speaking with veteran players in the locker room after game, a familiar refrain began to build. The team was upset with their performance, but also recognized that it's only the preseason. Even rookie Daron Payne knows his team must do better.
"It’s definitely a wake-up for us, knowing we can play harder and just clean up a whole bunch," he said after the loss.
Redskins head coach Jay Gruden explained after the game that his biggest goal was to get through the contest injury free, and by and large, he succeeded. Colt McCoy had his hand examined for injury, but of the starters, the Redskins did not appear to lose any players.
And that's good. No injuries ranks as the top goal for any NFL coach in preseason. There is other good news though.
This game didn't matter. At all.
The Redskins basically played their Get Out of Jail Free card on Friday night. The results were ugly, but remember, it's preseason. This game won't matter at all in the hunt for a playoff spot. It won't matter at all in the NFC East division race. And it won't matter at all come September 9th in Arizona when the real season starts.
Alex Smith is better than he showed Friday night.
The Redskins defensive front is better than they showed Friday night. The secondary too, for that matter. There is a body of work that supports those assertions. From Richmond and from the work against the New York Jets.
The Redskins got outclassed by the Broncos in preseason Game 3. The dress rehearsal. Let that sink in.
Now exhale, because, that game doesn't matter.
MORE REDSKINS NEWS:
- Nickname News: Adrian Peterson on AD vs. AP
- Five Observations: What we learned from Week 3
- Kirk Speaks: Cousins once envisioned returning
- Roster Preview: 53-man roster projection
Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcasts, here for Google Play or press play below.