The New York Giants will see a new face on an old foe this Sunday in the Washington Redskins, as this will be our first of many, many looks at young Robert Griffin III. We've heard the book on RG3: lightning quick speed and all the tools to be a plus pocket passer, so we reached out to the guys at Redskins101.com to find a little bit more about Griffin & Co.
Our first question was about the pocket passing. We know RG3 can run; it doesn't take time to develop that aspect. But how is everything else coming along? Have there been the kind of accuracy and decision-making issues we expect form rookie quarterbacks? Justin Fiore from Redskins 101 says, well, not really.
He's completing over 70 percent of his passes, so accuracy isn't much of an issue. And decision-making has been a key part of his early success as well; he has just two interceptions. The Redskins have done a great job of protecting him through play calling, running lots of misdirection and asking RGIII to get the ball out quick. They've also surrounded him with athletes who can run well after the catch.
However, one of the main attributes that hasn't translated from college yet is the deep ball. Sometimes he doesn't see it but I also have a feeling he only really looks for it when offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan says "let’s take a shot." What else is left to be desired? Third down conversions…the Achilles heel of any offense. Despite converting only 28 percent of those, they're tied for second in the NFL in points (with the Giants of course).
With Griffin not showing the aptitude to hit the deep ball yet, we wonder if Antrel Rolle and/or Stevie Brown are going to spend some time lurking near the line of scrimmage to help keep Griffin from taking off.
We thought Roy Helu was supposed to be the next big thing out of the backfield in Washington, but all we're hearing about now is Alfred Morris. What can we expect from Morris?
Morris does not have the kind of break-away speed that most teams fixate on in today's game, but he fits the Redskins like a glove. He's a strong downhill runner that absolutely will not go down on first contact; it takes a team effort. While we do consider him a good back, his effectiveness actually comes from the offense (recently labeled the "east-coast offense"): tons of play action, multiple formations with 2-3 rushing threats (including RG3), and enough misdirection to keep defenses consistently guessing. They create just enough hesitation to strike quickly and effectively.
The Giants have had their fair share of bringing down tough runners like LeSean McCoy, DeMarco Murray and Trent Richardson, so we're a bit worried that if Morris really gets it going, the Redskins present the kind of quick pass-mobile QB combo that Dallas killed Big Blue with in week 1.
One thing working in the Giants favor this week is that Pierre Garcon, Griffin's best and favorite target, will be in street clothes. We wondered if there were any other threats we should worry about.
Garcon, without a doubt, was Griffin's favorite pre/early season target and has truly been missed. With him out, Fred Davis has become the go-to guy. Outside of those two, Griffin shows no favorites. In the five full games he's played, he's thrown to at least eight different Redskins and he didn't target a single player more than four times last week. Fred Davis is the only clear matchup problem left.
Okay, enough about the offense. How is the defense looking? They seem have given up a lot of points, and are dead last in the league giving up 328 passing yards per game. We're not surprised, since Brian Orakpo and Adam Carriker are out all year, but is there any reason this matchup is tougher than it looks?
We're very confident in the Redskins ability to stop the run and Ahmad Bradshaw's injury only boosts that. That said, our pass rush and secondary are both horrific. That hasn't changed much since Shanahan's arrival, and yet Eli Manning has thrown only one touchdown and six picks in that span. But there isn't much of a reason to believe that trend continues, (or why it even happened in the first place) but on paper Eli is definitely in for a big game. A shootout sounds likely.
The Redskins win if…
If they force three turnovers, it's a lock. So far this season they're plus nine in the turnover column. The Skins would need to avoid turnovers of their own as well, but this defense has a nose for the endzone and you don't want to give RGIII too many chances. Especially in the redzone, where the Skins rank fourth in scoring.
If we're being honest, we're giving the Redskins offense a little more credit as the week goes on. If Griffin can not turn the ball over and complete 70 percent of his passes, add in the running ability of Morris and Griffin, and we see a less-than-optimal matchup for our Giants defense. But hey, we still like Eli Manning to win a shootout…especially against the worst pass defense in the league.
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