-The idea of “stopping” Peyton Manning is a fools errand, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do some things to limit him and make him have just a good game over a great one. The Colts did that this past week, and they did it with pressure. While Manning did throw for 386 yards and 3 TD’s, he had his worst game of the season. He was sacked 4 times, including a strip fumble that went for a safety. In the previous six games Manning was sacked just 5 times total. In addition to the fumble, pressure forced another Manning turnover when TE Julius Thomas missed a block and Manning was hit as he threw the ball never reached it’s intended destination and a linebacker was able to intercept it. Manning also completed just 59% of his passes on the day, and pressure impacted more than a few of those misses.
Now getting pressure on Manning isn’t easy as he is perhaps the best in the league with feeling pressure and getting rid of the football. And unlike with most quarterbacks, Manning getting rid of the football to avoid the sack isn’t a throw away, he’s so good in the pocket that he can find an opening to his receiver. The Redskins have to find some creative ways to get pressure on Manning and make him uncomfortable. Another big key though is the coverage. You aren’t going to lock up these receivers for 3 or 4 seconds, but you have to at least give your pass rushers a chance. To do that the Redskins need to cover for 2- 2.5 seconds.
-While Denver is off course known for their prolific passing attack this team likes likes to have a balanced approach as well. They are 9th in the league in rushing attempts and 2nd in rushing touchdowns. While their yards per carry isn’t the best (3.8 as a team), their top two runners Knowshon Moreno (4.3) and Ronnie Hillman (4.6) are doing a good job. Since they’ve been so far ahead in games a lot of time they are trying to run out the clock in the final drives. This leads to a lot of predictable runs and kneel downs which are hurting the team’s average.
One reason why the Colts were able to get so much pressure on Peyton Manning is that they forced the Broncos into a number of 3rd and long situations. They did that by stopping the run for a 3.2 ypc on 20 carries last week. Moreno was even worse with a 2.7 ypc. This put the Broncos in a number of 3rd and 7 or more situations which allowed the pass rushers to be more aggressive and Peyton have to sit in the pocket longer as his routes developed. If they were 3rd and 3 situations or even worse not even getting to third down, the Colts wouldn’t have won that football game. Another thing the stout run defense did was stop the Broncos cold on some of the 3rd and one runs as well.
-Look Denver’s run defense is really good, butt that doesn’t mean you can get away from your bread and butter. It’s a pretty simple, when the Redskins have an effective, consistent rushing attack they win football games. When they are needing to air it out, they lose. Griffen has just 2 wins in his career when attempting 30 or more passing attempts, and it’s been pretty clear the more he throws the worst the Redskins chances of winning become. If the Redskins can establish a ground game they have a chance to win this football game. If they try for a passing shootout versus Peyton Manning then you are in serious trouble.
-The Redskins have played extremely sloppy through their first 6 games, and it is a big reason why they are 2-4. They’ve made far too many penalties in all three phases, which has set them back tremendously. The Redskins have also been very careless with the football, turning it over far more than they did last season. While the penalties and turnovers are killer, perhaps the most consistent mistake is simply missed assignments.
This is plaguing the Redskins throughout the season every week. Far too often we see guys just missing their assignments. Whether it is coverage/blocking responsibilities on special teams, blown coverages on defense or quarterbacks and receivers being on different pages, it is happening way too often each week. It’s leading to a lot of big plays for the opposing team and the Redskins can’t afford that if they want to beat Denver.
-Like all quarterbacks RGIII performs worse under duress, but it is a greater issue for him than some other quarterbacks. Griffin being a younger quarterback and perhaps due to not being used to being in the pocket, doesn’t have a good feel for pressure overall. We’ve seen him take sacks and hits that most starting quarterbacks wouldn’t take. Griffin is also one who will try to use his mobility to avoid pressure rather than throwing the ball away. That too can lead to additional sacks/pressures.
The Broncos have their top pass rusher back in Von Miller and he’s going to try to make up for lost time. Miller had a good game versus the Colts last week, getting a number of pressures on Andrew Luck. Miller is going to look to bring the heat even more against Griffin and the Redskins, and expect him to move around the line to find holes in the blocking. Joining Miller in rushing the quarterback will be Shaun Phillips the former Charger. Phillips is having a good year for the Broncos and leads the team in sacks. Even beyond their top two guys the Broncos can bring pressure with guys like Robert Ayers, Malik Jackson and Derek Wolfe and they like to blitz their linebackers as well.
It’s going to be a tough match-up, but one the Redskins need to win if they want to win on the road in Denver.