Gruden wins preseason debut as Redskins coach
The Sports Xchange
By David Elfin, The Sports Xchange
Gruden wins preseason debut as Redskins coach
LANDOVER, Md. -- After going 3-13 last year, the Washington Redskins took first-year coach Jay Gruden's debut seriously even though it was only preseason.
The New England Patriots didn't, resting 12 starters Thursday night in their 15th season under three-time Super Bowl champion Bill Belichick.
The result, not surprisingly, was 23-6 Redskins victory that proved little.
"All I take from it is what our players did and how we can improve on our performance moving forward," said Gruden, who admitted to being excited when he took the field. "That's what the preseason's about. We're trying to evaluate players ... teach our concepts, teach our fundamentals. ... All three phases (gave us) something to build off of and that's all we were looking for."
Belichick, who sat quarterback Tom Brady, cornerback Darrelle Revis, tight end Rob Gronkowski, linebacker Jerod Mayo and guard Logan Mankins, all of whom have been chosen for multiple Pro Bowls, said he did what was best for his perennial AFC East champions.
However, the NFL's longest-tenured coach wasn't happy that his reserves performed so poorly against Washington's backups after the latter's starters departed during the first quarter.
"We didn't do enough things well enough and we've got a lot of work to do," Belichick said. "That's obvious."
Gruden's guys did so much so well that the Redskins shut out the Patriots until the final 83 seconds, outgaining the visitors 387-192 until the last series.
"They all did a great job from the offensive line to the backs to the receivers," said Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, who completed just 2 of 4 passes for nine yards but still staked Washington to a 3-0 lead on Kai Forbath's 39-yard field goal before exiting after one series. "I could sit here and name guys (who did well) for days."
Among them were backup quarterback Kirk Cousins (9 of 13, 103 yards and a touchdown), receiver Aldrick Robinson (three catches, 45 yards and a touchdown with starters Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson resting), as well as rookie running backs Lache Seastrunk (12 carries, 63 yards) and Silas Redd (nine carries, 45 yards).
In contrast, Washington's much-maligned defense held New England to 2.6 yards per carry and only allowed one Patriot -- reserve Brian Tyms -- to accumulate more than 30 receiving yards.
"We certainly underachieved last year, especially with the talent that we had, so we have a lot to prove this year," Redskins outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan said. "We wanted to set the tone for our season tonight. Coming out and getting two three-and-outs hopefully will build that momentum for the rest of the season."
While the Redskins will try to build on the victory a week from Monday against Cleveland on national television, the Patriots will look to rebound on Thursday against Philadelphia.
"I don't foresee us having these problems when we get to Miami (for the Sept. 7 regular-season opener)," said right tackle Tommy Kelly, who was one of just four regulars on New England's defense who played against Washington.
Penalties on Patriots backups kept the Redskins' second drive going, and Cousins ended it with a 10-yard scoring slant to Robinson with 2:18 to go in the first quarter.
Forbath, in a battle for his job with seventh-round draft pick Zach Hocker, hurt his cause by missing a 46-yard field goal attempt to conclude the Redskins' third series with 6:17 remaining in the half and later sending a kickoff out of bounds.
Hocker's 27-yarder pushed Washington's edge to 13-0 with 36 seconds left before halftime after Patriots standout kicker Stephen Gostkowski hit the right upright from 54 yards to keep his team scoreless.
That remained the case when New England receiver Josh Boyce couldn't hold a fourth-down pass into the end zone from quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo with 3:44 remaining in the third quarter after a 7-yard toss from quarterback Colt McCoy to rookie tight end Ted Bolser increased Washington's advantage to 20-0.
Hocker added a 39-yard field goal with 8:18 left before New England finally got on the board.
With 1:23 to play, Garoppolo threw a 26-yard scoring pass to Tyms (five catches, 119 yards). The two-point conversion attempt failed.
NOTES: In addition to WRs Pierre Garcon (hamstring) and DeSean Jackson (ankle), Redskins S Ryan Clark (hamstring) didn't play. Washington CB Tracy Porter and OL Mike McGlynn were also inactive. ... New England backup QB Ryan Mallett managed just 55 yards on 5-of-12 passing. ... The Redskins have won seven consecutive preseason games.