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2012 - Week 7 @ NY Giants

Blognosticator - China

Redskins vs. Giants
October 15, 2012

We’ve reached week 7 of the NFL season, and the Redskins have yet to play another NFC east team. That means 6 out of the next 10 games are against divisional foes. The warm-up is over; it’s time to show whether this year’s team has what it takes to contend in the division or will once again be a division (and NFL) bottom-dweller. We’ll be playing the hated Giants, perhaps hated moreso now than in past years due to Mara’s meddling. However, I think this has more meaning to us fans than it does to the players and probably won’t provide the players any additional motivation for this game.

After six weeks we should have some kind of idea as to what kind of team the Redskins are, and what their potential is for the remainder of the season. But do we? The Redskins are a mediocre 3-3, having beaten a good 4-1 Vikings team, but also lost to a couple of 3-3 teams in the Rams and the Bengals. What does this tell us?

First, we’ve seen that the Redskins can score and score a lot (which is a refreshing change from past years), meaning that they can play with anyone. With RGIII at the helm we finally have a franchise QB that makes good decisions, delivers the ball accurately and is dynamic in a way we (and the league) have never seen. But he only plays one position, and there are eleven on offense. He can’t make Dezmon Briscoe catch an easy ball for a first down. He can’t block a defensive tackle to open a lane for Alfred Morris (well he can, but he damn well better not stick his nose in harm’s way unnecessarily). His presence as a running threat opens up the running game, and improves the passing game. Not only does he have a live arm, but he can avoid rushers that may get by our weak O-line. His influence has been enough to turn a once woeful offense into a scoring juggernaut (at least comparatively). The Redskins have already scored more than 30 points 3 times this year (in only six games) - something they failed to do all last season, and had only managed to do 6 times in the previous 6 years combined.

Second, and perhaps as some form of cosmic yin and yang in the football universe, the defense has gotten weaker as the offense has improved. Part of this can be attributed to missing players with injuries to Orakpo, Carriker, and Meriweather, as well as the suspension of Tanard Jackson. Part can be attributed to poor coverage on the back end and a weak pass rush on the front end. And part can be attributed to the esteemed (by someone, just not by me) Jim Haslett and his questionable defensive designs and play calls. Regardless, while our offense is now good enough to keep us in any game, our defense is bad enough to make sure our opponent is never out of any game. I’m not sure how much my heart can take.

Third, our special teams are not so special. This year Danny Smith has substituted punt blocks for field-goal blocks. Yippee. And we’ve had a merry-go-round of field goal kickers. The latest and greatest is the young Kai Forbath. He has gotten off to an auspicious beginning by hitting his first field goal from 50 yards. Now if we can only get him to boom the kickoffs out of the end zone so that we don’t have someone like Percy Harvin running it back half way down the field or farther. Brandon Banks? He still makes me nervous (and not in a good way) every time he touches the ball. Oh, and by the way, the Redskins are last in the league in punt return yards, averaging 5.4 yards per punt.

How does all this relate to the upcoming game?

On offense the Redskins will need to keep the Giants pass rush from overly harassing RGIII, although his legs will provide an advantage we haven’t had before. A good dose of Alfred Morris will help to beat down and slow down their D-line. If Garçon is out RGIII will rely more on Santana Moss and Fred Davis, but he will need to continue to spread the ball around (he targeted 9 different players against Minnesota), as the Giants will likely rotate coverage to Moss and Davis. Look for Josh Morgan to have his biggest day of the year so far.

On defense the Redskins will need to keep Ahmad Bradshaw under wraps. He put up 116 yards and a TD on 27 carries against a tough Forty-niner run defense (ranked 9th in yards/game). The Redskins are even more stingy (ranked 8th) giving up only 88.8 yards/game and should continue to be stout against the run. The big concern is the Giant passing game against our defensive backfield. Hakeem Nicks is back off of injury and provides another target to draw coverage away from Cruz. If I see Cruz doing another salsa in the end zone I think I’ll puke. The Redskins will need to continue the recent trend of not giving up the big play. Eli is good for at least one INT per game and I expect we’ll get one from him.

So how will this play out? The Giants are coming off a big win in San Francisco and may be prone to a little bit of a letdown. I expect they’ll start slowly and it will be a close game throughout. They’ll be at home however, a place that has not been particularly kind to the Redskins over the years (last year being the exception that proves the rule). I foresee a good old-fashioned NFC East slugfest coming down to the wire. RGIII keeps us in it to the end. However, captain comeback Eli Manning plays for the Giants, which means, in combination with our defense, the game won’t be over until it’s over. With a little undue luck the Giants steal a win with a late score, 27-24.

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