This week we travel to the nations capitol to face RGIII and the Redskins. The match-up is an interesting one. Washington has new coach, well relatively new anyway, a rookie quarterback, an explosive offense, and a bad defense. The situation is similar to the one Carolina was in during the 2011 season.
Just in case you may have been stranded on a deserted island in April, I will point out the Redskins moved up to the #2 spot in the 2012 draft to acquire the talented Robert Griffin III. The Redskins essentially mortgaged their future to select the Baylor Bear, but so far he has proved the Skins front office made a wise move. RGIII is Cam Newton lite. Griffin has a strong and accurate arm, he is quick and elusive, and he is a homerun threat whenever he has the ball in his hands. Just like Newton, only Griffin is more slight of build. The coaches in Washington tailored their offense around what Griffin did in college, and he did it well. Again like Newton in 2010, RGIII won the Heisman Trophy on 2011. Shanahan has a dangerous weapon in Griffin and the head coach knows it. The style of offense run by Washington is eerily similar to that which the Panthers ran in 2011. And the Redskins are having the same level of success this year that Carolina did last year.
Offensively the Skins have a superb running game. It is currently the NFL’s 2nd ranked rushing attack in yards per game. This is due primarily to 2 players. First, rookie running back Alfred Morris. Morris has rushed for 717 yards so far this season. That is good enough for 3rd in the entire NFL. Secondly, the Skins rushing attack is bolstered by RGIII and his staggering 6.8 yards per carry average to go along with 476 yards gained on the ground.That puts Griffin ahead of the likes of Michael Turner, Trent Richardson, and Steven Jackson. Typical of Shanahan coached teams, they would like to pound you with the ground game, force your safeties up closer to the line of scrimmage in run support, and then go over the top with a play-action pass. The pass is equally lethal with Griffin in the backfield.
The Redskins have recently lost tight end Fred Davis for the remainder of the season due to a torn Achilles, and they are anxiously awaiting the return of Pierre Garcon, who has been hampered by a foot injury that’s kept him out of the line up since very early in the season. Despite these losses the offense is still ranked 6th in yards per game and they are 4th in scoring offense. We have discussed what RGIII is capable of beyond the line of scrimmage let’s see what he can do behind it.
Griffin has performed very well in the passing game during his rookie season. He boasts a completion percentage of 67%, he has thrown for 1,778 yards, and has an overall quarterback rating of 97.3. Again these numbers are without 2 key weapons in the Redskins offense. RGIII is a force to be reckoned with. He will be a dynamic player in this league for many years to come. Alright, we have looked at the Redskins efficacious offense now let’s check out that defense.
The Redskins defense ranks 29th in total yards.That is not very impressive, but this unit does have some veteran playmakers. Despite it’s 32nd ranking against the pass, the defense is tied for 3rd in the league with 10 interceptions. Additionally, the defense has forced 5 fumbles and recovered them all. If you put the ball on the ground against this team, they will recover it. The defense ranks 10th against the run and teams have to work hard trying to gain anything on the ground versus this defensive unit. A ranking of 20th in sacks paired with 10 interceptions allows one to surmise this secondary can cover fairly well. Pro Bowl cornerback DeAngelo Hall is a wily veteran that ranks 17th in interceptions this season. He also has 54 tackles, and 8 passes defended, the low number of passes defended is because quarterbacks generally avoid throwing the ball to his side of the field. In addition to Hall and his veteran leadership, defensive captain London Fletcher, while battling nagging injuries, is tied for 9th in the league with 65 tackles. Typical for Fletcher, who no matter what team he has been on, he is always among the league leaders in tackles. Just another good season for the 15 year veteran. This defense lost Brian Orakpo and Adam Carriker for the season in the week 2 versus the Rams. The loss of those 2 players dramatically affected the defensive abilities of this team, and are a large part of why this defense has struggled.
The Redskins are portentous offensively. RGIII can hurt you with his arm, but it is when he uses his legs that cause defensive coordinators so many sleepless nights, and Alfred Morris can pound you all game long and wear down a defense. The Redskins defensive unit is where they are vulnerable, giving up 28 points per game. It’s just as I said at the beginning of the article, this Redskins team reminds me so much of the 2011 Carolina Panthers. I do believe the Panthers capable of beating this team. Such has been the case multiple times this season and yet here we stand, 1-5.
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