If you’re ready to bank on the Washington Redskins‘ defense after its preseason debut, you might want to hold off just yet.
Yes, Washington routed the New England Patriots, refusing to allow its opponent end zone penetration through 58 minutes and 77 seconds of regulation. Yes, the defensive units played lights-out for the duration of regulation, and yes, the Redskins denied the Pats a touchdown on fourth-and-goal from the four yard line.
All of those accomplishments, however, came in the defense’s first scrimmage against a second and third-string passer. In fact, that’s all it was.
In case nobody noticed, future Hall-of-Famer Tom Brady didn’t play. Come to think of it, neither did the Patriots’ most electrifying wideouts, Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola. Can anybody guess where I’m going with this? Yeah, that’s probably why Washington’s defense was able to generate such a dominating preseason outing.
Don’t get me wrong. A six month offseason can be an emotional drag on most NFL fans, and it’s easy to be excited after a performance like that. But let’s not be too hasty to forget that Brady took the Redskins’ defense to school during joint practices, taking decisive command of his offense and mercilessly shredding Washington’s secondary with effortless poise and precision.
To the Redskins’ credit, their secondary held its own squaring off against the New England offense while being subject to practice rules that made quarterbacks untouchable. And when the Redskins coach Jay Gruden dispatched his first-team defense against the Patriots’ starter, with the exception of Brady, the defense dug in, disrupted the passing game and forced the Patriots into a third-and-miles situation.
The Washington defense have talent, and showed it during the preseason opener. But don’t uncork a bottle of champagne just yet — Washington’s first-team defense has far from arrived.