Redskins' offense struggles, but Zach Brown jumps out on defense

The Washington Redskins did not play well in their preseason opener on Thursday night in Baltimore, with the offense looking particularly bad. It's a good thing that (a) the 23-3 loss to the Ravens doesn't count in the standings and (b) the regular-season opener is a month away. The Redskins will need that month. It wasn't so bad that the Redskins lost, it was the way they looked in doing so.

QB depth chart: Kirk Cousins played the first two series and didn’t do a whole lot, completing 1-of-2 passes for 5 yards. Neither he nor backup Colt McCoy had much time to throw -- both were sacked once and under pressure often. McCoy completed 6-of-13 passes for 40 yards. Neither quarterback led a scoring drive. Third-stringer Nate Sudfeld completed 5-of-12 passes for 68 yards.

When it was starters vs. starters, the Redskins looked ...: Bad. At least on offense. It’s hard to measure the defense considering Baltimore’s starting quarterback, Joe Flacco, didn’t play. But offensively, the Redskins looked inept. Granted, key starters Jordan Reed, Jamison Crowder and Josh Doctson didn’t play, but that doesn’t excuse the poor execution in all phases of blocking. The Redskins managed 16 total yards in the first quarter.

One reason to be concerned: The run blocking wasn’t good. Nor was the protection. The latter can be cleaned up via scheme and game plan, and perhaps the run blocking can be as well. But it was an area that needed to be improved upon after last season, and on the first 10 carries Thursday, Washington managed just 10 yards. There was little room to cut for the backs, and too often they were hit in the backfield.

That guy could start: Linebacker Zach Brown. It’s still hard to say how the inside linebacker battle will end up, but Brown’s speed jumped out. He has mostly worked with the second unit, though recently he’s spent more time with the starters -- next to Will Compton or Mason Foster. Brown made plays because of his speed Thursday.

Rookie watch: Linebacker Ryan Anderson continues to stand out, perhaps the most of all the rookies. Anderson plays with a mean streak the coaches love; he did a nice job of taking on lead blockers deep in the backfield to disrupt plays and set up teammates. He’s not a flash guy; he will be good. End Jonathan Allen recorded one sack, thanks to good coverage and his own savvy. Allen helped himself by rushing to the quarterback's depth so when Ryan Mallett tried to run, Allen was in good position to get off his blocker and make a tackle.

Running back lessons: Rookie Samaje Perine is having to do more in pass protection than he did at Oklahoma, and it shows. Perine struggled for much of the night at picking up the blitz. In order to win the starting job, he’ll have to improve. It didn’t help that he was stripped on one carry and on the next play dropped a pass. In practice, he has shown good hands in the passing game.

Defensive line rotation: The Redskins opened in their nickel package, with Matt Ioannidis and rookie Jonathan Allen along the front. When the starting defense used their base front, the linemen were Ziggy Hood, Phil Taylor Sr. at nose and Stacy McGee. Taylor was stout in the middle for the most part.

Opening statement: The Redskins’ first play could be one they’ll use often this season -- a play-action pass over the middle to receiver Terrelle Pryor. But Cousins’ pass was high, and Pryor couldn’t make the catch. He’s made tougher catches, though. The Redskins want to use more play-action this season, a strength of Cousins.