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I’m dictating my notes/this article from my notes into my phone at the dog park as I /dictate type this first line – and I realized as I looked over my notes and was walking around and was re-thinking about this game and what to write – I realized, I have no idea who won the game. Not that it matters in the preseason, so I’m not stopping this dictation to go look…but I usually know/remember something about the winner of the game. All I can report is – someone won and some lost…I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a tie. It might have been. I only really wanted to see two rookie running backs at work and get a glimpse of a rookie wide receiver debut…everything else was gravy.
My recollection of this game is that Cincinnati looked here like the same team every preseason game in 2017 – Andy Dalton leads the first team down to the red zone with ease, and then face plants trying to get the team in to score a touchdown. Statistically, Andy Dalton has been weaker in the red zone the last couple years, it’s a bone of contention used to dismiss him (rightfully so) and sometimes overblown…but I could visually attest to it watching him this preseason. You’d think it’d be easier to punctuate drives in the preseason…no for the Bengals.
I haven’t seen the Chargers Week 3 tape yet, so I don’t mean to offend them – but it’s possible the Washington Redskins are the worst looking team in the 2017 NFL preseason. It looks like I need to strip the belt off of previous declared ‘the worst’ in the Los Angeles Chargers. Kurt Cousins looks like reality might be setting in. Rob Kelley is probably the worst starting running back of any team in the NFL. The team is moving around pretty listlessly on both sides – and Cousins is under duress too much for the preseason. I just think that the Redskins on the verge of a New York Jets-esque collapse into a pit of darkness for years to come. Only the Jets are worse run the Redskins, but the Redskins look like they’re about to give them a run for their money.
Onto the player notes…
— This game sums up the reason to love and hate Joe Mixon (8-31-0, 1-6-0/1) for fantasy football.
On the love side – on one of his first carries in the game, Mixon took a simple handoff up the middle and encountered some traffic so he kicked it to the right like he was smoothly ice skating. When he did go right, Josh Norman was approaching the line of scrimmage and was ready to halt him. When Norman made his move forward, Mixon faked left and then moved right so quickly it was as if the hand of God grabbed him and pulled him supernaturally, breaking the known laws of physics. Norman tackled the wind has he feel to the ground, grasping the dust from Mixon. Once past Norman, Mixon slipped and lunged forward for a nice gain…it was nearly the highlight run of the preseason. In reality, it probably should be. I can think of only 2-3-4 running backs in the NFL that could’ve made that move…Joe Mixon is poetry with the ball in his hands.
There’s a reason to hate Joe Mixon for the beginning of fantasy football 2017 — Jeremy Hill started and took most of the carries in this ‘dress rehearsal’. Now I’m saying it. When did every man, woman, and child start calling Week 3 preseason game a ‘dress rehearsal’? When did everybody in the league get together and decide this was a thing for all? I never get invited to those meetings. Hill started and stayed in the game quite a bit, only to be spelled by veteran Gio Bernard making his debut. It was like old times with Hill and Geo. After awhile Mixon got in the game for a few more touched as the lead RB and was quickly removed.
If this was a ‘showcase’ game, and the Cincinnati Bengals are going to roll into week one with a Hill-Gio combo it will be interesting to see when Mixon gets sprinkled in. It will also be interesting to see how many weeks Marvin Louis sticks with Hill-Gio as a primary punch. If you think ‘not long’, may I remind you how long it took before Bruce Arians played David Johnson as the lead? Arians didn’t make a change himself either – injuries to Arians two starters ahead of Johnson forced his hand.
We don’t know when Mixon will force Lewis’s hand or whether Lewis will do that old-school coaching thing where he’s about six weeks too late trying to prove to you how right he was about Jeremy Hill. You already know what I would project will happen, but regardless – once Mixon happens…there’s no turning back.
You may have your interest peaked in Mixon and the current owner isn’t wanting to be reasonable about trade – just wait until Week 2 or 3 after Mixon has sparsely played. If that happens then you’ll have a better entry point for trade. Honestly, I’m seeing Mixon fall in redrafts and being available in trade semi-reasonably. Analysts talk a good game about liking Mixon, but he’s really not given them anything to get excited about in the preseason. Marvin Lewis has kept the lid on Mixon to help this dull roar along. After Fournette and McCaffrey go 1-2 among rookies, the great depression falls on the person picking next. There are no wide receivers to get excited about. They won’t take a tight end that high. There’s no quarterback they like. They pinch their nose and take Dalvin Cook or Joe Mixon after Founnette-McCaffrey. The price of poker on Mixon is not cheap, but it’s a reasonable today. It could be more reasonable after Week 2. However, once people get a load of Mixson for realsies – no chance of making a deal.
— I saw the box score numbers from this game before I watched any of it. I saw Mixon didn’t have any huge moments on paper. I saw Samaje Perine (5-50) did nothing of note – and the Rotoblurbs howling for their luscious Rob Kelley (11-57-1). I knew I didn’t need to full-scale rush into watching what happen based on the box score and seeing Mixon-Perine only getting a couple touches each. I also assumed from the Rotoblurb in the box score that Perine was a disappointment. So I wasn’t expecting to see much.
However, once I turned on the tape…I saw it. I know I saw it. Perine is absolutely the best running back on the Washington Redskins. He’s on the bad side of the media for whatever reason…how an entire industry goes into Rob Kelley’s corner is so surreal to me – I thank God every day for the collection of football experts in the mainstream reporting. I watched Perine work, and he looks fast, bouncy, and powerful. It’s coming together for him. The media decided that everything he does is reported in a bad light. They can look at the box score and make fun – that’s what they do…make commentary on things they don’t watch nor study…as the masses lap it up. I do watch all of this stuff. I do have a catalog in my brain of all this activity. I know it when I see it.
Samaje Perine is the best running back on the Washington Redskins, and it’s not even close. He’s a legit starting running back in the NFL – he’s going to be a three down guy coming up soon. He can block like a mother. He can catch better than anyone realizes. He has enough speed and agility with his freight train body to be a quasi-star.
Perine made a move in this game that wasn’t too far behind the brilliance of one Joe Mixon pulled off earlier. Perine hit the hole up the middle going full speed, but with traffic in his way…so, he hopped out of the way like a magician’s trick, changing directions with the fluidity – and even I was shocked. I’ve not seen Perine be that nimble. I know he’s fast for his size. I know he’s a powerful freight train of a runner. I know he’s a much better receiver than giving credit. I’ve never thought he’s overly agile. He was in spots in this game. I’m wildly encouraged by what I’m seeing with Perine the last couple weeks. I have no doubts about him – I only have doubts on how long it will take Jay Gruden to reach the same conclusion. These are the same people/coaches that were locked in the Matt Jones last year…but pulled the plug on him pretty quickly when it came down to it. The Redskins are going to struggle in 2017. Kelley’s going to struggle. If Perine shows flashes of anything and the revolution will be on. I just can’t tell you what week it’s going to happen – I can only tell you it is going to happen.
— No one cares for me, but Tra Carson (1-4-0) looked not too far off of Mixon and Perine looked like running the ball. One of the great missed opportunities for other NFL teams in need of an RB because he’s been available most of his career on the practice squad.
In other news, Brandon Oliver is the actual backup RB for an NFL team right now. Rob Kelley actually starts for NFL team right now.
— Rookie John Ross (1-8-0, 0-0-0/2) got his first work of the preseason…yaaaaawwwwwn. Rookie Taywan Taylor hit the ground running in the preseason. Rookie Keelan Cole made an impact the first time the Jags threw him the ball. Rookie John Ross looked like every generic, tiny wide receiver headed to the practice squad. He offers nothing as a receiver besides speed. Now, that’s a good thing to have. ..but the Bengals using a first round pick on a ‘speed only’ wide receiver… I just shake my head.
Ross is definitely fast, and he may have a spurt early on until defenses figure him out – like with Will Fuller on the Texans last year. Ross getting touches with his speed is a good thing, but I don’t know that he’s going to get enough of them the matter. I feel like this is John Brown/Arizona or Philip Dorsett/Indianapolis all over again.
It’s only Ross’s first preseason game ever, and a lot of rookies look skittish in their debut so I’m not going to close the book here. But I’ve had my concerns since the fast 40-time elevated him to mythical creature status. Nothing I saw in his pre-season debut has changed that bias yet. I’m open to having my mind changed, but it hasn’t happened yet.
— You know what looks terrible this preseason – the Kirk/Kurt Cousins to Terrelle Pryor (1-7-0/4) connection. I’d love to see a couple successful repetitions between those two to get excited about but it’s been misthrown passes and Pryor unable to haul them in…even ones he should.
I will say this – Terrelle Pryor looks in supreme shape and is running professional, sharp routes. He’s getting open. Cousins is going to have a field day throwing to him because he’s always open with his size and new found WR skills. Cousins just has to put it in the zip code that Pryor can get to it. In the preseason, it’s been a missed connection. I have a feeling it will be different when they run their entire regular first team offense and playbook.
— FYI, Jordan Reed (2-10-0/2) made his debut and he actually has a working foot and looked like normal, dominant Jordan Reed.
— If Vontaze Burfict is suspended, I hope Nick Vigil (7 tackles) gets a chance to play/start and become an IDP option.