The Washington Redskins know the preseason is all about working out the kinks and knocking off the rust that can develop during the offseason.
They had plenty of opportunities to do just that in Monday night's 24-23 victory over the Cleveland Browns, a game in which head coach Jay Gruden said several turnovers and penalties stalled promising drives for the offense.
The Washington Redskins hosted the Cleveland Browns at FedExField for Week 2 of the 2014 preseason on Monday, Aug. 18, 2014.
"We had some key penalties and some stopped drives," Gruden said. "I thought we moved the ball effectively, but you have to finish drives and you have to protect the football."
The Redskins on Monday committed four turnovers – two by the first-team offense – and were penalized 11 times for 100 yards.
Against the New England Patriots in their preseason opener Aug. 7, Washington didn't turn the football over, but committed 10 penalties for 79 yards.
Gruden said the penalties and turnovers are something that can be corrected through teaching, which will be a common theme in practices this week and beyond in order to ensure the team is at its best by its opening game Sept. 7 vs. the Houston Texans.
"It's something we have to continue to coach and teach our guys the right way to play," Gruden said. "We have to understand the rules and continue to preach it because it'll cost a lot of teams a lot of games if we keep going at this clip."
Although Gruden admitted the offensive execution was "ugly" at times vs. the Browns, overall he said he "saw some progress."
In the first half, the Redskins' first-team offense totaled 241 yards on 41 plays – including 196 yards passing – against the Browns' first-team defense, a unit that finished ninth in the league in total defense a year ago.
After turning the football over with an interception, the first-team offense bounced back to march down the field on a 16-play, 85-yard drive that took 7:10 off the clock. The long drive was highlighted by a 49-yard bomb from quarterback Robert Griffin III to receiver Andre Roberts.
"I think as a quarterback, you have to come back out, forget those negative plays and still go through your reads and be confident in what you're doing," Griffin III said. "We can't have the fumbles and the penalties that we did, and that's why it's preseason and that's why it's training camp and we're still working at getting better and finding our game. But, I think we're going in the right direction."
The Redskins have two more preseason games to shake off the rust and fine tune things before the regular season gets underway.
On Saturday, they'll receive a challenge when they head north to play the Baltimore Ravens, a defense that ranked 12th in the NFL in yards allowed in 2013. The following week, they'll head south to square off against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their preseason finale.
In their preseason opener against the San Francisco 49ers, the Ravens allowed just 187 yards of total offense and collected three sacks. They also forced three turnovers, two of them via interceptions.
In the first half against the Dallas Cowboys in their second preseason game, the Ravens' first-team defense surrendered 10 points and 200 yards, but forced three punts and two turnovers.
The Redskins are off on Tuesday, but will get right back to work Wednesday to begin correcting their mistakes vs. Cleveland and prepare for the Ravens.
"Baltimore is a great football team, but I would like to play our starters at least a half," Gruden said. "I would like to prepare them, get them used to how we're going to prepare them starting Wednesday. We'll see where we are."