Camp Med is over for the Washington Redskins.
Coach Jay Gruden runs low-key practices. He’s not a screamer. Intensity during practices has been typically modest since his arrival in 2014.
But the Redskins weren’t ready for their preseason debut. The Baltimore Ravens dominated 23-3 on Thursday. Washington’s starting offense went three-and-out twice before being replaced. Special teams made mistakes and the defensive reserves looked lost.
What have they spent the last three months practicing? A lot of feel-good moments in a friendly atmosphere once again produced a team not ready for even the preseason. The real fear after such a poor showing is not being ready for the regular-season opener on Sept. 10 versus Philadelphia.
Last year, Washington opened the regular season 0-2 and spent the rest of the fall unsuccessfully chasing a wild-card spot. If the Redskins stumble early again this season, there’s little postseason chance and a massive exodus come the offseason.
Making much out of a preseason-opening loss may seem silly, but it’s once more a sign of poor preparation. Gruden saw the multiple mistakes team-wide against Baltimore. Surely, he’ll realize it’s time to raise intensity a notch. The long, sobering bus ride to Richmond after the game should have many realizing job security isn’t a given.
Next year, the Redskins desperately need to scrimmage another team. The past two summers without one have left the team lacking. They don’t even have an intra-squad rookie scrimmage like past coaches. When the lights finally come on, Washington always seems in the dark.
It’s no longer a mental game. The Redskins need to play harder against the Green Bay Packers on Aug. 19 at FedEx Field. Then even harder against the Cincinnati Bengals on Aug. 27.
No more dismissing the preseason as meaningless. Losing badly always carries a meaning – get better or get packing.
Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter @Snide_Remarks.