Penalties, anemic running game concern for Redskins
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) A day after getting a better look at film of the Washington Redskins' sloppy preseason debut in a 23-17 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, coach Jay Gruden said penalties and the team's running game will get more attention.
The Redskins were whistled for 14 penalties for 123 yards and ran the ball 24 times for just 79 yards in the loss. Their top three running backs, Matt Jones, Chris Thompson and Keith Marshall, had no yards on eight carries.
''Yeah, penalties are an issue, man,'' Gruden said after practice Saturday in sweltering heat on Fan Appreciation Day. ''It's a very important part of the game - offense, defense, special teams and penalties, man, and turning the ball over.
''We looked at them extensively today and make sure we get them corrected because those things - you can be as skilled as you want to, be as prepared as you want to, but if you commit penalties, you've got no chance.''
Some of the penalties - namely holding calls on tackles Morgan Moses and Takoby Cofield - could be blamed for hampering the running attack, but guard Spencer Long said even this early in preseason camp, that's no excuse.
''It was just sloppy,'' Long said after a practice in which the defense dominated. ''Obviously, there's no excuse for that. We've got to clean up our play, and that will come with time as well.
''I could sit here and say it's a result of Game One, but we're pro football players and there's no excuse for that. Hopefully we learned from the film and learned how to not draw holding calls, not jump offside and get it cleaned up.''
The Redskins worked extensively on their running game Saturday. Seeing that turn into results when the Redskins face the Jets in their second preseason game would be nice, Gruden said, especially Matt Jones, now the top tailback after Alfred Morris signed with Dallas.
''We're not going to panic after the first preseason game, but we also understand that these games, you are what you are based on what you put on the tape,'' Gruden said.
''We have got to make sure we continue to work on it and get better at it. That's all you can do. Our backs have got to continue to see it, but we have got to give them more opportunities.
''With Matt, it would be nice to get him two, three, four carries in a row to get a rhythm going and see how he does then. That will be our intent next week - to try to get him going and see how he does.''
Thompson said being in a real game situation could account for some of the problems the Redskins encountered in Atlanta.
And Gruden credited the Falcons' defense, but even while admitting the defense came more pumped up to practice on Saturday, Thompson said the offense needs to take the sessions - or their mistakes - more seriously.
''We can't make mistakes in practice and think, `Oh, it's just practice. We'll fix it once the games come around,''' he said. ''We have to understand that we have to get those things fixed now.''
Gruden also took some of the blame for letting mistakes happen in practice.
''We're going to coach them up,'' he said. ''We're going to work on it and make sure we do our best not to let it happen again.''
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