Redskins Keys to the Game vs. Cleveland Browns
December 13, 2012 in Washington Redskins Keys to the Game
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By Staff Writer John Manuel:
Here are the five biggest factors for the Redskins to defeat the Cleveland Browns this Sunday:
1. First question is obvious, what should be the determination on if Robert Griffin III plays Sunday.
Monday I would have given little chance that he would be out there by then came practice on Wednesday and that Griffin was doing much better. Right now no one is going to say any percentage chance he is at until Friday's injury report. And I am fine with that move by Shanahan.
That being said, my guess is that the doctors will OK him to play and the Griffin will want to play. It's going to come down to Mike Shanahan's call after he weighs the chances to win with Kirk Cousins versus the potential long term injury risk. These are the big decisions that Shanahan is paid megabucks by Dan Snyder for. I don't think anyone knows the answer yet.
2. If Griffin goes it most likely means he will be able to do what we have seen all season.
Big Ben would be out there Sunday in the same situation but his playing style would allow it. If Griffin goes he will slash the Browns Defense like he has all defenses. It will continue the Skins ability to run the ball down the throats of the Browns even though they have a solid front as of late with Phil Taylor back.
The Browns have been playing better but it’s very low impressive wins versus teams like the Chiefs and Raiders. I am convinced at this point that an 80% Griffin can move the ball against any NFL defense.
3. If Kirk Cousins is under center it is a big change.
I do think the Redskins can win this game with Cousins, although we have seen very little. I think the coaching staff and Rex Grossman will have Cousins ready to play. Cousins having Pierre Garcon out there will be a huge assist as well. I have been amazed with the offensive game plans this season and especially most recently. So I would expect the same if they have to prepare for a Cousins start.
The big difference could be protecting the football. Griffin has been Brady-like all season throwing only four picks. Cousins threw two in short work versus Atlanta so that would be the team’s biggest concern going with Cousins.
4. The Cleveland Browns offense is very young even though the quarterback is almost 30.
Sounds weird but it is what it is. Brandon Weeden has played better than most expected and recently has found a big play connection with fellow rookie Josh Gordon. Gordon has to be licking his chops to get against the Washington secondary like any wideout in the NFL, CFL, BCS, High School, or college intermurals.
For the defense it has to start up front stopping another rookie in Trent Richardson. Richardson has been solid this season and is due for a monster game. Both Rice and Pierce ran at 6 yard clips last week which is scary since the run defense has been decent. Although that could be misleading since any good passing team should just pick the Skins apart and put the running game on the back burner.
Richardson scares me a lot more than Weeden in this game. I can't see Weeden picking the Skins D apart as easily as Flacco, Manning and Romo did for a half of each game.
5. I am going to add this until they do something about it. The Redskins must add a kickoff specialist this week.
I know roster spots are valuable but one long kickoff return can cost them any of these three final games. Josh Cribbs or Travis Benjamin can easily burn us bad this week. The Brandon Banks roster is useless now with Richard Crawford returning punts. Make the move now.
I would even take Billy Cundiff back for kickoffs only at this point. Cobra Kai Forbath is money on field goals but the Skins can't risk a big return even if their coverage teams are solid. Goodell is giving teams a touchback with the 35 yard line rule so we need to take it.
As for my predictions. Plural, because RG3 playing or not may be bigger than the game prediction itself. I think Griffin goes Sunday and leads them to another win but it will be tough. I'm thinking 20-17 win for this game.