Here are some key match-ups to watch in today’s game:
-The Bills don’t run the same offense as the Philadelphia Eagles, but C.J. Spiller is a really good comparison to Eagles running back LeSean McCoy. Both are very shifty running backs who have great vision and cut back ability. Both will also be used as weapons out of the back-field in an effort to get them in space. Spiller is probably even more dangerous than McCoy because he’s even faster, so how the Redskins run defense fairs versus him is a pretty solid test for how they will contain McCoy week one. The Redskins run defense has struggled so far this preseason, with major issues in their angles and tackling down the field by linebackers and safeties. This is a key area to watch today, and if it remains an issue it could be something the Eagles look to exploit week 1.
-It’s likely Jarius Byrd either won’t play, or won’t play much, but they should still offer a good test for the Redskins receivers. It’s a young unit with a lot of upside and athletic ability. Stephon Gilmore especially is one to watch, if any Redskins receivers get the better of him that is a big positive going forward.
-The Bills have a sneaky good defensive front 7, and are trying out a 3-4 alignment this year. Last year the Bills struggled versus the run, but this 3-4 system should better suit their strengths. Kyle Williams and Marcel Dareus are big bodies on this line that the Redskins will have to move. The linebackers are quick and should give the Redskins running backs a good test.
-The Redskins pass rush has been pretty effective the first two weeks so it will be interesting to see how it fares in this third preseason game. The Bills have a pretty strong offensive line (more in run blocking than pass blocking), and should be a solid test for the Redskins edge rushers, prior to their week 1 game. The Redskins have shown some blitzes and their new 5 LB nickel package so, I would expect them to continue to show those looks some.
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-Though the Bills won’t have rookie QB E.J. Manuel, they will still be a test to the defense from the standpoint of their tempo. It might not be on the level of the Redskins week 1 opponent the Philadelphia Eagles, but it will be a lot faster than what the Redskins have seen this preseason. This will be a good game to see how the Redskins stack up from an endurance standpoint, and to see how the defense can adjust to different formations if they aren’t able to substitute as often.
-Last week was a game the Redskins rookie class wishes they could forget, so in many ways they are battling with themselves to prove themselves worthy of roster spots and roles on this club. David Amerson might not face his toughest test today, but it will be key to see him know his responsibilities better and keep his head up while tackling. Tackling will be a major thing to watch today with Bacarri Rambo, particularly as he faces a quick shifty running back in Spiller. It would also be nice to see Rambo get tested in coverage as well. Jordan Reed needs to do a better job of being aware of how to run his routes and catching the football. Though he isn’t expected to be a strong blocker, he has to work on his technique to be at least playable. Brandon Jenkins has had two strong games so far, so it will just be nice to see a continuation of that. Rookie runners Chris Thompson and Jawan Jamison just need to stay healthy (more on Thompson) and show good vision.