Anthony Brown, a Redskins blogger at Redskins Hog Heaven, answers our questions about Sunday’s game.
UNYG: The Redskins got off to an auspicious start. Defeating the Giants on opening day, then posting a 3-1 record after 4 games. What happened?
RHH: It’s football. Injuries happen. The Redskins lost LT Trent Williams and LG Kory Lichtensteiger in the first half of the Eagles game. The Redskins game plan that day was to find mismatches against Philly safety Kurt Coleman…who worked his way out of Andy Reid’s doghouse with three of the Eagles four picks of Rex Grossman. Mike Shanahan then proved how badly he misjudged quarterback talent by benching Grossman in favor of John Beck. The ‘Skins have gone 1-7 since then. The loss of RB Tim Hightower after six games took steam out of the running game until the emergence of rookie Roy Helu.
UNYG: When the Giants and Redskins played on opening weekend, Washington RB Roy Helu had one carry for 2 yards. To date, Helu has taken over as the starting running back. Can you tell us more about him? Besides running the ball well, he is also a very good at catching passes out of the backfield. (44 catches for 315 yards) Do you believe the Skins will exploit the Giants weak linebacking corps with a heavy dose of Helu?
RHH: Washington could use Helu and tight end Logan Paulsen to look for match-ups against the Giants. It is more likely that OC Kyle Shanahan will call for Grossman to target WRs Jabar Gaffney, Santana Moss and Donte Stallworth as primary receivers. Gaffney and Stallworth played large roles in last week’s game against the Patriots. This is where I acknowledge that Justin Tuck missed that first game along with key members of New York’s secondary. Grossman says the team turned a corner in the second Cowboys’ game. They might have, to go by Sunday’s showing against New England, but this time, the Redskins are injury-riddles and the Giants fairly healthy.
UNYG: Starting offensive tackle Trent Williams has been suspended. This means Willie Smith will up against ferocious Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul. Can we expect the Redskins to use two TE sets to slow down JPP? What do you think the Skins will do?
RHH: With TE Chris Cooley out and Fred Davis suspended with Williams (Why are the only two dopes suspended for rec drugs on my team?), The Redskins are not likely to use two tight ends for extra blocking. Logan Paulson is the blocking tight end. I look for a heavy role for him. Mike Shanahan complimented back-up tackles Willie Smith and Troy Polumbus for their play against the Patriots. With Shanahan, one never knows if he is serious, or blowing smoke Tom Coughlin’s way. Injuries on the O-line are real problems for the Redskins.
UNYG: In addition to Williams, TE Fred Davis will also be out. In September, he had a career day against the Giants. (5 catches for 105 yards) In general, the Giants have had difficulty covering guys especially in the middle of the field. Besides Santana Moss, what receiver will attack the Giants defense between the hash marks?
RHH: Roy Helu is Washington’s fourth-leading receiver. Fourteen of his 40 receptions were in one game (49ers). That game cost John Beck his starting job when Shanahan saw that he was dumping to Helu rather than throwing to open receivers down field. But that game showed that Helu is capable of attacking the second level defense as a receiver. The Redskins do not have a real replacement for Davis.
UNYG: Your colleague Greg Trippiedi believes: But if I learned one thing at all watching the coaches’ tape from the Giants-Cowboys game it is that both teams are fundamentally flawed in a way not dissimilar to the Redskins. The best coverage unit in the NFC East right now? Sadly it’s the Washington Redskins. Do you think the Redskins can slow down the Giants potent pass attack?
RHH: Greg’s point (not that I speak for him) is that the Redskins secondary can do about as well against the Giants receivers as the Giants secondary can do against the Redskins. The difference is quarterback. Eli Manning is no Rex Grossman. How I envy you for that. CB DeAngelo Hall is the Grossman of the defense. He can do many things to help the ‘Skins to win, if one can tolerate imperfection. Hall has jumped routes, sometimes without safety help and has taken bad angles on receivers at critical times. He and fellow CB Josh Wilson have defended 12 passes, best on the team. Washington’s respectable pass rush helps the secondary.
UNYG: Journeyman Redskins quarterback Rex Grossman put up big numbers against the Giants in September. Subsequently, he was benched. Then he was reinserted into the starting lineup. Do you think the Redskins will draft a quarterback?
RHH: Fantasy football in Washington is seeing Robert Griffin III or Matt Barkley in a burgundy jersey next season. Hog Heaven fans those flames as much as anyone. That’s way premature. Neither man has performed in the NFL Combine nor have they interviewed teams. Fans just want better options at quarterback. It is unlikely that both Grossman and Beck make the 2012 roster. Since Daniel Snyder owns the team, Washington makes everyone’s list as a potential destination for Peyton Manning if the Colts release him. I don’t see the Colts releasing him. If they did, I do not see Peyton coming to Washington for any amount of money. The Jets would hold more interest. As a football fan, seeing the Manning brothers in New York would be very cool. For the record, I would rather the Redskins draft RG3 or Barkley rather than signing the elder Manning.
Other notes: Pro Football Weekly’s Nolan Nawrocki assesses Corey Webster.
What does Webster do well? According to Nawrocki: Has excellent body length, with very long arms, and disrupts receivers at the line of scrimmage. Very good press-cover skills
What does he not do well? Is not as comfortable in off coverage as he is on the line.
Nawrocki’s expert opinion bolsters our take here at UltimateNYG. Fewell does not leverage his talent.
Without Baas and Beatty, the Giants have a ground game. Is this a correlation? Or is it a coincidence? We shall soon find out. Meanwhile, with the Giants shuffling their offensive line, they have gained 100 yards rushing in TWO consecutive weeks. Give credit to Boothe and Petrus for opening up holes for Giants running backs. Since the Giants have a rejuvenated rushing attack, this is only going to help. Because as well as Eli has played this season, he could have an off game in the upcoming weeks. Therefore, it is critical the rush offense improves as this season comes to a close. Additionally, offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride concurs. The weather becomes a factor up here,” Gilbride said. “It’s not the cold very much and it’s not even the rain as much as the wind can really be a troublesome factor.” Indeed, the wind has affected Eli’s play at home. Perhaps the confines at the new stadium will be more forgiving. We will find out over these last three “home” games.