The Redskins' first-team offense struggled in the preseason opener against the Ravens, but Kirk Cousins is confident the game will help in their preparation throughout the next week.
It would be an overreaction to put too much stock into the Redskins' preseason opening 23-3 loss to the Ravens on Thursday night. But it wouldn't be wrong, as it isn't for quarterback Kirk Cousins, to take away a few valuable lessons from his first time back on the field against an opponent that's not comprised of his teammates.
In his brief time on the field – six plays, to be exact – Cousins and the offense couldn't pick up a first down over two drives, a product of variety of factors, namely playing against an aggressive defense that, through some unique stunts and pressures in man coverage, the team hadn't prepared for without any tape study.
Cousins threw just two passes. The first sailed high to wide receiver Terrelle Pryor Sr., who couldn't haul in the mid-range pass over the middle. After a sack to bring on the punt team, Cousins completed his second attempt to Rob Kelley on the second drive, a 5-yard gain. Overall, the first-team offense put together minus-1 yards combined, including two yards on three attempts from Kelley on the ground.
"I think it's a wakeup call," Cousins said. "I think it showed us that as much as we may have been making some plays in training camp in Richmond, [Va.], and feeling good about what we were doing, I think it's a realization that we have a long ways to go and I think that can be a good thing in the long run. It can be good to have that wakeup call. It could be the best thing we need right now."
As left tackle Trent Williams made apparent, he won't put too much stock into the slow start, primarily because the team hadn't prepared for the Ravens' defensive scheme and pressures. It will give the offense a better sense of the speed and pace that they will need to account for next week.
"I don't know if going fully live makes a difference maybe, but the pick stunts, just picking guys, having guys wrap around, you know, starting to come through the C gap, wrapping around to the backside A gap, that kind of thing, I think it's tough," Cousins said. "The running back needs to be locked in, your center needs to be locked in, your guards need to pass stuff off – that takes reps and reps and reps. That's why we spend so much time in weekly preparation, watching the blitz tape and learning what a team does, because if you're not on it, it'll be what happened tonight which is a lot of sacks, a lot of pressures and hard to get in a rhythm."
In an effort to disclose as much as possible, Cousins described the opening incompletion to Pryor, the 6-foot-4 receiver that Cousins will be likely to look towards a lot this season. Needing to make a pass above the linebacker and in front of the defensive back covering, Cousins seems to still be adjusting to Pryor's height and the extent of his wide receiver's abilities.
He later explained how in a live game, those kinds of passes and catches come with the consequences of a tackle, something that is hard to simulate at training camp.
Check out the top images from the Washington Redskins' offense in their Preseason Week 1 matchup against the Ravens Aug. 10, 2017, at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland.
"It's a bang-bang play, and I feel like I had to put it over him with a little bit of height, probably more than I needed maybe, as I look at it," Cousins said. "But again, trying to use Terelle's size, I thought maybe if I put it up there he could make me right and I could play it safe and not throw it into danger, but obviously it was a little too high, [he] wasn't able to come down with it. In the second play, backed up, a guy got loose, C.J.Mosely came through, and I'm in my own end zone. Fortunately Rob Kelley got in there quickly and turned his head around, but that one didn't allow for much time."
It wasn't the start the Redskins wanted, but Cousins is hopeful the team as a whole will take away some valuable insights and be better prepared for their first home game next Saturday against the Packers. It's what the preseason is for, after all.
"I think it gives us an edge," Cousins said. "No one's going to come to practice on Saturday feeling like they've got it made, or they have it figured out, or that this game's easy…I didn't need that reminder, but I do think that as a unit, as an offense, we'll be reminded from this game watching this film, and as a result think that our Saturday practice, our Sunday practice, and our preparation for the Green Bay game will be that much better. So in the long run, it's probably a good thing. Obviously, we don't want it to persist through the preseason. It needs to be fixed. But if it is fixed, you can point back to this night as a night that probably helped us get going in the right direction."