The Washington Redskins fell to the Cincinnati Bengals, 23-13, in a competitive match-up yesterday at FedEx field. 

Although the game was merely an exhibition, the contest did have some intrigue as Jay Gruden rolled out more players who are likely to start this season. As a result, a more polished product was on display, and onlookers had a better glimpse of who the team can become this fall. 

There were several players who improved their stock with yesterday’s performance, mostly on the defensive side of the ball. While others regressed and hurt their standing with the team. 

Take a look at my “Stock Up / Stock Down” recap of yesterday’s Redskins game, and let me know if you agree.

Stock Up:

Dwayne Haskins celebrates as he throws his first touchdown as a Washington Redskin. (Photo Credit: NFL.Com)

Dwayne Haskins

It’s becoming increasingly clear that Gruden wants to give his rookie QB live reps. Haskins entered yesterday’s game late in the second quarter and played the majority of the game. This is now the second straight week in which he received ample playing time. 

It was a successful outing, as he completed 7/14 passes, for 114 yards and a touchdown. His passer rating was 101.5. 

Haskins showed growth in his second game and is proving that he is starting to “get it”.  On his first drive he was faced with a deficit of 2nd and 15, and quickly found a way to navigate it. In an obvious passing situation, the Bengals ran zone coverage and allowed their front four to run downhill. Sensing the pressure, Haskins calmly eluded the pressure and displayed some savvy as he gained six yards. He has shown some functional mobility over the last two games, something critics have dinged him for.  

He also impressed on the cognitive level. On the next play, a third-and-nine, Haskins toyed with his cadence and baited the Bengals for a neutral-zone infraction, allowing for a manageable third-and-four. When the next play commenced, he rolled to his right and found Brian Quick for a five yard pass. First down. 

Haskins also showed a strong pocket presence. It’s clear that he senses pressure, but is not frantic. This was exhibited during a 55-yard touchdown pass immediately after the two-minute warning.

Thing of beauty right?

Obviously the touch on this throw was exceptional, but what may be more impressive is his pre-snap read. Haskins stated that he called a “dummy cadence” to tip the Bengals hand and reveal what they were lined up on defense. He saw the mismatch and took advantage.

Well done, Mr. Haskins. Welcome to the official QB Battle that many were waiting for.

DaRon Payne

Early feedback is that Daron Payne had an excellent off-season and showed up to Richmond in incredible shape. This was apparent in Payne’s first action of the season yesterday. Payne was disruptive, assisting on two of the games first three tackles.

He also provided the play of the game as he swat an Andy Dalton pass deep in Redskins territory. The ball flew up in the air, and Montae Nicholson took advantage en route to a 96-yard score. 

Swatting balls has been an attribute of Payne’s going back to his days is Tuscaloosa. An innate trait I noticed while watching film him last July (**humble brag**).

He’s going to be a force this year. 

Montae Nicholson

Whenever you intercept a ball, and return it 96 yards for a touchdown, you get a thumbs up from me. If this was a real game, Nicholson’s score would have tied Bashaud Breeland as the second longest return in franchise history. Breeland set this precedent in 2017, against the Los Angeles Chargers.

Jonathan Allen

He’s an animal. Allen created push in the pocket and was an absolute force for the first three series of the game. He set the tone by tossing the Cincinnati Bengal running back like a rag doll on the third play of the game (and was unjustly penalized). He also got out in space and made a critical tackle on a screen with roughly five minutes remaining in the first quarter.

Allen is a tone-setter and there may be a changing of the guard in terms of team leadership. With a vacant throne left with the void of Trent Williams, Allen may usurp the role as the voice of the team. 

Josh Harvey-Clemons

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Let’s put it out there. The Redskins are thin at inside linebacker. So far they have lost Reuben Foster with an ACL tear, released defensive-captain Mason Foster, and Shaun-Dion Hamilton is on the mend with torn cartilage in his rib-cage. The Redskins need JHC, and he delivered yesterday.

He finished the game with eight tackles, including a critical stop on third down with five minutes remaining in the second quarter. On third-and-one, Bengals quarterback Ryan Finley rolled right after a play-action fake and dumped it off to Brandon Tate. Harvey-Clemons was not fooled and tackled the receiver for no gain. I’ll even give him style points for losing his helmet on the play. Go on young man! 

(Honorable Mention) Robert Davis

Two preseason games, two long touchdown receptions. Davis has shown a propensity to get open deep and take advantage of defensive mishaps. The only reason he is not a sure-fire “stock up” is that he only had one catch for the game (and one drop).

Stock Down:

` The penalty flag was a familiar sight as Shawn Hochuli and crew ambushed the field with over 20 penalty calls last night (Credit: AP Photo)

The Officiating Crew:

What the hell was that?? The referees were god awful last night. They called penalties on the second, third, fourth, fifth, and seventh plays of the game yesterday. 

Altogether, the officials called 21 penalties for 109 yards. Which included 12 (!!) in the first quarter.  The Redskins were penalized 11 times, while the Bengals were flagged 10 times.

Not to mention this monstrosity.

I’m pretty sure fans don’t pay to see yellow laundry tossed across the field. Yesterday’s crew should be disciplined.  

Punt Coverage Team:

For the second straight week, the Redskins punt coverage team has given up a touchdown. The team gave up an 88-yard touchdown return last week in Cleveland. Yesterday they gave up a 75-yard score in the fourth quarter. That can’t happen. Period.

Dustin Hopkins:

Maybe it was just a bad night, but Dustin Hopkins struggled. He missed an extra point in the first quarter. He also missed an additional field goal later in the quarter. To be fair, the missed field goal was a mishandled snap by Tress Way. But that’s not something you want to see from your specialist. 

Case Keenum:

For an established veteran who’s role on the team is a “steady veteran presence”, he leaves much to be desired in terms of command of the offense. Yesterday he was 3/7 with 52 yards and a passer rating of 68.8. He hasn’t shined as a player worthy of leading this team. At one point in the off-season, I thought for sure Keenum would be the starter in day one. However, the gap between he and Haskins is shrinking.  

Donald Penn:

As the heir apparent to Trent Williams, Penn has struggled to get a stranglehold at the left tackle position. Murmurs from Ashburn are saying that he is still “playing himself into shape” and is “not ready” to take the field. 

Furthermore, it is being said that the race for the left tackle position is much closer than many would have imagined a few weeks back. Geron Christian is producing at a comparable rate and he’s younger/cheaper. Penn’s role on the team will hashed out over the next two weeks, however Penn hasn’t dominated as many had hoped. 

It also doesn’t help that he was the one responsible for the blindside hit that caused Haskins to fumble in the third quarter.

Samaje Perine: 

For a second straight game he came off as pedestrian.  He rushed the ball five times for a grand total of one yard. It’s understandable for running backs to struggle in the preseason, especially with constant substitutions on the offensive line, but Perine has under-performed. And it doesn’t do him any favors that Gruden keeps highlighting him as a player to “look out for”. 

What’s Next?

The Redskins will travel to Atlanta to take on the Falcons next Thursday at 7:30pm. Game will be broadcast on NBC 4 and NBC Sports Washington. 

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