Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said he's not going to make any rash decisions about his first-team offense based off of its limited opportunities in three preseason games.
In what was essentially a dress rehearsal for the regular season Saturday evening against the Baltimore Ravens, the Washington starting offense had six drives: one ended in a field goal, two ended in three-and-outs, one ended with a sack, one ended with a kneel at the end of the first half and final one ended with an interception early in the third quarter.
The Washington Redskins traveled to M&T Bank Stadium to take on the Baltimore Ravens for Week 3 of the 2014 preseason Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014.
"We just had some missed steps with a penalty, or somebody didn't get covered," Gruden said after the game. "There are a lot of things that goes into a bad football play and poor execution on the offense."
On their first possession Saturday, the Redskins were able to drive deep into Baltimore territory before putting a 32-yard Kai Forbath field goal on the board.
That drive started with a 19-yard run by Alfred Morris and was accelerated the next play, when quarterback Robert Griffin III targeted wide receiver DeSean Jackson with a pass deep into Ravens territory.
The throw was intercepted by safety Terrence Brooks, but a pass interference call on cornerback Dominique Franks gave the Redskins the ball at the Baltimore 10-yard line. After two Morris runs and a sack, Washington took the early 3-0 lead.
But that was all the Redskins' first-team offense could muster the rest of the game. The only other time the unit looked poised to put some points on the scoreboard was midway through the second quarter, when Griffin III found tight end Jordan Reed for a 29-yard pass play that reached the Baltimore 37-yard line.
But the play was nullified by a holding call on left tackle Trent Williams, and the Redskins were forced to punt two plays later.
"We didn't play very well," Griffin III said. "It seemed like we kept shooting ourselves in the foot."
Griffin III – who completed 5-of-8 passes for 20 yards, was sacked three times and fumbled a snap – said Saturday's game was the first "overall bad outing" the first-team offense has had through three preseason games this year.
"It's better to have a game like that in the third game of the preseason than the regular-season opener," he said. "We'll go back, look at the tape, and evaluate what we need to do."
Gruden said that many outsiders will point the finger at Griffin III for the first-team offense's struggles vs. the Ravens, but said "it's a total team thing."
"We have to do a better job of getting into a rhythm, get some completions early and get some first downs," Gruden said. "We did a poor job on first and second down. It all starts with me, the play caller, and on down to everybody else. We just have to do a better job of getting some things going drive-wise."
While the starting offense had its struggles Saturday, Gruden said he was encouraged with the play of the backups, who have performed well all three preseason games.
Led by quarterback Kirk Cousins, the Redskins' second-stringers conducted four second-half drives, two of which ended with touchdown passes to Santana Moss and Nick Williams.
"We got a lot of good reps, good work," Cousins said. "(We) put some things on tape that we can learn from, and that's what the preseason is all about."
Gruden said the second- and third-teamers will play the entire game Thursday, when the team travels to Tampa to take on the Buccaneers in their preseason finale.
The first-year head coach said he still believes Griffin III and the first-team offense will be on point when the team opens up its regular season Sept. 7 against the Texans in Houston.
"We're not going to panic and abort ship," Gruden said. "We're going to keep working and get ready for Houston. I feel good about the starters that we have, and some of the back-ups obviously played well again, so that's exciting. We just have to do a better job of executing when it counts."