5 Things to Watch for as the Redskins take on the Giants
Check out my breakdown of why the Redskins can win on BleedBigBlue.com
1. Will DeSean Jackson Play:
–Pierre Garcon was good as Jackson’s replacement as the featured member of the Redskins pass offense last week, but he lacks the big play element that Jackson brings to the table. If Jackson can go this week it could be a major boost to the offense and give the Redskins a threat that will hopefully keep the safeties deep to allow for more running room for Morris. Even if Jackson can only play on a limited basis he could be enough of a threat to open up other areas of the offense (though that hasn’t always been the case this year). If Jackson can’t go again then it will severely limit the Redskins passing attack versus one of the better pass defenses in the league.
2. How will Colt McCoy do with the injury:
-The Redskins are still sending Colt McCoy out there despite the fact that he was dealing with a neck injury all week. Now he’s been cleared to play medically, but after taking a hit like that (and all the cumulative hits he has been taken) how will he fare against a pretty good pass defense. The Giants have done a nice job getting pressure, forcing INT’s, and limiting completions this year and make it very tough on opposing quarterbacks to beat them through the air. Really only Matt Stafford and Andrew Luck have had really good (or great) passing games versus the Giants so if the Redskins go down early and the game is put in McCoy’s hands he will have a tough task keeping the Redskins in the game. The good news is the Giants run defense is very porous so if the game is close the Redskins hopefully won’t need to rely on McCoy.
3. Will the defense have an answer for the Giants passing attack:
-The last time these two teams faced off in Washington, Eli Manning had a monster game and torched the Redskins coverage unit. What’s even scarier is star rookie Odell Beckham wasn’t even active in that game (though the talented Victor Cruz was healthy). The Redskins secondary has been getting worse and worse (if that is even possible) and now they will be without safety Brandon Meriweather and their best coverage linebacker Keenan Robinson. If the Redskins can’t find away to pressure Eli Manning he will have a field day against this unit. For the Redskins to win this game they will need Jason Hatcher (who is questionable and might not play) and Ryan Kerrigan to really bring the heat. If Hatcher can’t go the rest of the defensive line has to step up, as does rookie OLB Trent Murphy. If you can get Manning off his spot and force him to throw it early that is how you can get those multiple Eli interception games. The Redskins can’t hope to win consistently enough in coverage so it’s going to be about bringing the heat. It will leave them even more exposed on the back-end if the pressure doesn’t get there, but it’s a risk the Redskins need to take.
4. Will we see improved blocking both in the run and pass games?:
-The Redskins blocking continues to get outmanned week-in-week-out. While much of the blame is of course directed to the offensive line, the backs and tight ends are becoming some of the biggest culprits. It’s getting to the point now where if a back or TE is one-on-one with a blitzer you should probably just consider that a negative play and move on to the next down. These guys are getting beat every week for key sacks and losses in the running game. Combine that with an already undersized and talent deficient offensive line and you have a recipe for disaster. Of the Redskins 9 rushing attempts (by a back) last week there were maybe 2 or 3 that were correctly blocked. Even Alfred Morris‘s 12 yard run allowed penetration, but Morris was able to see it in time and adjust. You just aren’t going to be able to establish the run if on just about every carry you have to dodge a defender or two in the backfield.
As bad as the run blocking is the pass blocking may be even worse. Tight ends and running backs are just whiffing at their assignments allowing free rushers to get pressure/sacks on their quarterback. The offensive line is good for 2-3 sacks allowed a game as well, and there will be a good 6-10 additional pressures on top of that. Right now with Trent Williams banged up the Redskins don’t have one OL that they can count on to win 95% of the time and it’s really limiting what they can do offensively. While much of the issue is just lack of talent (or injury for Williams), there are some communication and recognition lapses as well. We’ve seen multiple times in recent weeks, players getting confused about picking up stunts, which leads them to being late to get over and leads to either a pressure/sack/or offensive holding penalty. Delayed blitzers, particularly up the middle are also being recognized late and a guy will stay with his double team instead of picking up the free rusher. There are just too many fundamental breakdowns here, particularly for a group that is loaded with experience at 4 out of the 5 positions.
5. Will anyone step up and make a play for the Redskins?:
-One of the more troubling things with the Redskins season is the fact that there is just a sheer lack of impact plays being made for this team. Sure there have been some big catches, big runs, and a few big plays on defense, but compared to other teams it just seems like the Redskins are lacking, particularly in crucial situations. How often are the Redskins in a 3rd and long play and they fail to covert? Or on the flip side allow an opponent to make a big conversion. The Redskins aren’t a talented enough team to win and compete if they are giving up too many big plays and not making enough of their own. They need some players to step up and make impact plays in this game, and it needs to happen more frequently than it has been happening. That doesn’t always mean it needs to be a 40 yard TD pass on offense or a turnover on defense (though both would be nice), but just plays that can swing the game in their favor.