Ready for RG3? I am. A lot of you might be scared, but he should be the least (not literally, but you get the point) of our worries. Why? We’ll talk about that and more if you click “Read More”.
What to Watch For :
- Different Defensive Look for Rams: Last week, the Rams disappointed us by hardly pressuring Matthew Stafford. Things should be different this week. Yes, maybe Chris Long is slightly overrated. He can out-stamina his man sometimes and push his way to the quarterback, but very seldom have I seen him really beat his man in one-on-one situations. A given is that there will be no interior push without Michael Brockers, which was something Brockers did surprisingly well in the pre-season. We should still generate more pressure this week, though. For one thing, the Redskins O-line is much weaker than the Lions. Last week, we used a lot of 3-man rushes, which left Robert Quinn and Chris Long double-teamed, and played a very conservative defense designed to contain one of the league’s most high-flying offenses. This time, we should expect a focus on containing RG3, and we won’t have to worry quite as much about big plays, because the Skins have a decent receiving corps, but they don’t scare our corners. No, we’re not gonna rush 7 or 8 guys every down, but it probably means we might playing more spy coverage, so that our back seven will be aware if Griffin takes off. There should be more 5 or 6-man rushes, since we won’t be dealing with the same army of offensive threats as the Lions. On a positive note, our front seven is much faster than in past years, so mobile QB’s should be slightly less of a problem. We’ll find out. The Redskins’ running backs aren’t any better than the Lions’, and we should be able to put more guys in the box for reasons I’ve already mentioned, so the Skins will probably throw it a lot.
- Ker-Rakpo: That’s the pass-rushing combination of 3-4 linebackers Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan. Orakpo’s the elite one, but both players are productive. In fact, Ryan Kerrigan had a monster rookie season last year with 7.5 sacks, so may very well become elite, too. Roger Saffold won’t play as reported by Jim Thomas, but is officially listed as questionable. If he does play, we shouldn’t actually be that scared. The beating Sam Bradford took last year against the Redskins was largely in part due to Josh McDaniels’ terrible coaching. Go to the July 2012 archives on Turf Show Times and scroll down to an article called “Signs of Hope Amid Disaster for O-Line.” You’ll know what I’m talking about. If he sits, Wayne Hunter , his backup, has the athleticism to guard Orakpo, but not the technique. Orakpo relies heavily on speed and length, though, so Hunter’s athleticism is a big plus. Expect Matthew Mulligan, once again, to get ample playing time, for pass-blocking purposes.
- O-Line: What if I had a buck for every time I typed this in a game preview/review (on my personal blog)? It’s always a big headline, and this week it looks a mess. First, Scott Wells, who was a huge acquisition in the offseason, hurts his foot and goes to IR. Then, Roger Saffold sprains his neck. Then, Rokevious Watkins joins in on the fun and hurts his ankle. By some miracle, Saffold was a full participant in the last few practices, so there’s hope in that area. The loss of Rokevious Watkins means Quinn Ojinnaka could be starting full time. Ugh! Quinn Ojinnaka was one of my least favorite players in the pre-season for reasons that I explained when I reviewed the pre-season games. All he does is miss assignments and get burned. At least Robert Turner, who moved over from left guard to replace Wells, is an adequate starter. He and Harvey Dahl might be our only solid O-linemen. Don’t panic yet, though. The makeshift O-line did a great job protecting Bradford in the 4th quarter. When it comes to running the ball, we need to watch out for London Fletcher, the leader of what’s arguably the league’s best linebacking corps. Their D-line isn’t much of a threat, being in a 3-4 scheme. The Ker-Akpo will have to be kept in check by Barry Richardson, Roger Saffold/Wayne Hunter, Matthew Mulligan, and whoever’s blocking in the backfield. It shouldn’t be as ugly as last year’s contest, considering our coaching staff is light years better.
- Utilization of Rookies: I understand that Brian Schottenheimer was trying to be conservative, and didn’t want any freak fumbles, which is why the did a reverse to Danny Amendola rather than Chris Givens and why we didn’t use Daryl Richardson in the 4th quarter. But that’s no excuse for Daryl Richardson to only get 2 carries. That kid is good. Every time he runs the ball he gets positive yards. For his size, his ability to push the pile for three extra yards and a first down on a particular play was astounding. Steven Jackson obviously shouldn’t carry the ball 30-40 times per-game anymore. Daryl Richardson reminds me of Steven Jackson in his prime, except smaller and maybe even faster. However, he hasn’t shown a lot of moves that home-run hitters have. All-in-all, I can’t stress enough how much more he needs to be used. He’s an excellent change-of-pace back and is more than reliable for just solid runs and positive yardage. Chris Givens needs to see the field more, too, not only to run deep routes, but also to use his speed in the short field. He should be able to use his speed and strength to get YAC on quick slants, drag routes, and bubble screens. Brian Quick never saw the field at all last week, and for now I don’t expect it to be that much different, unless we get in the redzone. He could use some normal reps to get him further acclimated to the NFL level, but for now, he’s probably just a redzone weapon. At least, I hope he’s used in the redzone.
- Sam Bradford: The way Bradford came alive in the fourth quarter last week was a great sign, because that’s what All-Pro quarterbacks do: engineer fourth quarter comebacks. It was especially delightful to see him move the way he did as a rookie. The guy obviously cares and what’s to get better, so it could mean that he has finally gotten a grip on the fact that he has his own fare share of responsibility in keeping himself upright. Maybe, because S Jax was getting stuffed and showing his age, Sam realized that he is the X-factor, now. Maybe I’m thinking a bit too much, but hey, we all know the kind of player Sammy is. I’m sure he also knows he needs to play like that all four quarters. I’m not counting on a great performance, but any game now, he could break lose. Besides, things only go how I expect them to about half the time in the world of football.
The Verdict: The difference this week is that I’m hoping for nothing less than a win, whereas last week I was hoping just to not get killed. RG3 won’t match last week’s stats against Jeff Fisher’s defense, which will force RG3 to make mistakes and remind us that he’s a rookie. The Redskins’ defense doesn’t have a roaring crowd to play in front of, but is a step up from Detroit, so I expect similar numbers from the Rams’ offense. Sam Bradford will have a rough game, but there still won’t be any need to jumpship on him, yet. He’ll still show flashes of his rookie promise, give him some time. Steven Jackson’s carries per game will decrease by about 10-25% after this game, as he continues to show his age. Bradford might get the offense clicking again in late in the game, but we’ll come up short. Redskins win 27-20.