Here are five takeaways from the Redskins’ 23-17 preseason win over the Bengals:
—Terrelle Pryor and Kirk Cousins seem to be reading from the same book and maybe they’re on the same chapter. But they are not yet on the same page. Pryor had a clear drop in the second quarter when a catch would have set up a first down in the red zone. On the next drive Cousins connected with Pryor, who made a nice leaping catch while getting hit. Perhaps a better pass would have given the receiver a better chance to protect himself. They will work through their issues but it may take some time. We may see Cousins going more to familiar target Jamison Crowder in the first month or so of the season while things get ironed out.
—Last week it was Aaron Rodgers leading a long opening drive to a touchdown. This time it was Andy Dalton doing the same thing. This time, however, the defense did settle down and kept the opposition out of the end zone the rest of the day. The Bengals’ only other touchdown came on a pick-six by Vontaze Burfict. Cincinnati did get a good ground game working, picking up 137 yards rushing. But Dalton and the two quarterbacks who followed him passed for only 185 yards and combined for a passer rating of 63.1. It wasn’t a dominant defense but it could have been good enough to win some games.
—The worst part of the performance of the defense on the opening drive was the return of a main bugaboo from 2016, third and long conversions. The Bengals could have gone three and out but Andy Dalton converted a third and 13 with a pass to A.J. Green. Later in the drive they had a chance to force a field goal but Dalton went to Green again for 14 yards on third and 11. The Bengals got in the end zone on the next play. The Redskins did not have much pass pressure on those third down plays, another familiar sight from last season. They need to get the third downs figured out or it will be another very long season for the Washington defense.
—The Redskins have some quality young players in their secondary. Rookie cornerback Fabian Moreau is getting things figured out in a hurry. In his second NFL game he was solid in coverage and had a pass defensed. Fourth-round safety Montae Nicholson looks very comfortable in the secondary as well. And seventh-round Josh Holsey got the Redskins’ only sack of the day and he also batted down a pass. He is on the bubble to make the roster but he is making a very strong case to force his way on.
—With the preseason over for the 30 or so front-line players, it’s hard to come up with much of a conclusion based on what we’ve seen. When I gave my final thoughts on the edition of #RedskinsTalk the podcast that we just finished recording (look for it Monday morning) I said that they were better but still not good enough. But in the time I have been watching the NFL I have too often see poor preseason performances followed by solid regular seasons and vice versa. So take it for what you will. The best aspect of the three games is that it appears that all of the Redskins’ top players got out of it without an injury. It looks like 22 of the 22 projected starters will be on the field in two weeks to play the Eagles. That is one thing that the team and fans certainly can celebrate. The rest of it? Who knows, we’ll start to get an idea on September 10.