Eye On the Redskins: Scouting Report

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Giants will attempt to end a four-game losing streak, enter their bye with a victory, and achieve a milestone triumph when they host the Washington Redskins Sunday in MetLife Stadium. A 23-20 loss in Atlanta on Monday night left the Giants with a 1-6 record. Washington has won two in a row and three of its last four games and sits atop the NFC East at 4-2. The teams split their season series in each of the previous three years. The Giants lead the series, 99-67-4, and a victory Sunday will give them 100 regular-season victories against a single opponent for the first time.

What is the Redskins’ biggest strength?

Their ability to run the ball, which enables them to control the clock, wear down the opposing defense, and keep their own defense off the field. Washington’s average time of possession of 32:16 is second in the NFL, behind only Philadelphia’s 33:08. The Redskins’ offense combines some of the most successful attributes from Dallas and the Eagles, the Giants’ other division rivals. Washington quarterback Alex Smith makes quick and correct decisions and throws the ball accurately like Philly’s Carson Wentz, and compares with Dallas’ Dak Prescott with his ability to run. The Redskins have three receiving tight ends, as do the Eagles.

Which player is key to the Redskins’ offense?

Twelve-year veteran Adrian Peterson has been reborn in his first season in Washington. The 10th-leading rusher in NFL history with 12,714 yards has run for 438 yards – which places him 10th in the league this year. That’s important, because when the Redskins don’t run, they don’t win. In their four victories, they have averaged 34 rushing attempts and 152.5 yards. In their two defeats, those numbers fell to 20 carries and 52 yards. Peterson, 33, averaged 4.8 yards a carry and scored all three of his touchdowns in the victories. He averaged 1.7 yards a carry in the defeats. Peterson also had eight catches for 144 yards, including a 52-yarder.

What is the strength of the Redskins’ offense?

Smith’s ability to pick up chunks of yardage throwing the ball to the middle of the field. Running back Chris Thompson and tight end Jordan Reed are dynamic players who can exploit one-on-one matchups. Thompson leads the team with 26 receptions, and Reed is second with 22. Thompson missed the final six games last season – including both meetings with the Giants – after breaking his leg. His average of 50 receiving yards a game places him fifth among running backs (he missed two games with rib and knee injuries). Reed, who has been targeted a team-high 31 times, has 26 catches in five career games vs. the Giants. Smith knows when and where to deliver them the ball; with Kansas City last season, he led the NFL with a 104.7 passer rating.

View photos of the unofficial starters for Sunday's game against Washington

Which player is key to the Redskins’ defense?

Defensive end Jonathan Allen. Each of Washington’s last two first-round draft choices was a defensive lineman from Alabama – Allen in 2017, Daron Payne this year. Allen was limited to five games as a rookie because of a Lisfranc injury, but this year he has become a lethal force on the defensive front. Three of his 18 tackles have been sacks (he’s tied with Ryan Kerrigan for the team lead). Allen has a team-high eight quarterback hits. Washington is a 3-4 team that substitutes less often than most defenses; 12 players accounted for 94% of their defensive snaps in a victory against Carolina two weeks ago. Allen seldom leaves the field, which is bad news for opponents.

What is the strength of the Redskins’ defense?

The front seven. Washington had trouble stopping the run last season because it was small up front. But with the return of Allen (6-3, 294 pounds) and the acquisition of Payne (6-3, 319) – to go with linebackers Preston Smith (6-5, 265 pounds) and Kerrigan (6-4, 259), the Redskins are no longer small. Brown and Payne have the strength and power to control the line of scrimmage. Smith and Kerrigan are fast enough to pressure passers and strong enough to stop the run. Inside linebackers Mason Foster and Zach Brown are 1-2 on the team in tackles, with 51 and 41, respectively. Primarily because of the front, Washington is fifth in the NFL in total defense (325.7 yards allowed per game), third against the run (87.3) and seventh in scoring defense (20.2 points a game).

Which player is key to the Redskins’ special teams?

Dustin Hopkins has become one of the NFL’s most reliable kickers. This season, he has made 12 of 13 field goal attempts, including a career-long 56-yarder vs. the Panthers. Hopkins has succeeded on 85 of 100 career attempts.

The Redskins’ injury report:

Washington’s second-round draft choice, LSU running back Derrius Guice, suffered a season-ending knee injury in the preseason – which prompted the Redskins to sign Peterson (who is battling ankle and shoulder injuries). Leading wide receiver Paul Richardson, Jr. missed one game and continues to be bothered by shoulder and knee injuries.

Based on the scouting report, what must the Giants do to win the game?

Stop Peterson and the rushing attack. That will curtail the play action Washington loves so much. Smith uses it to take advantage of any opportunity he can get to throw the ball down the field. Stopping the run will also wreck the Redskins’ formula of controlling the clock and force their defense to stay on the field for longer than it has.

Statistics you should know:

*Washington has not trailed in any of its four wins nor led in either of its two losses.

*Kerrigan leads all active players with 9.0 sacks of Eli Manning. He is tied with Trent Cole for second all-time, trailing only DeMarcus Ware’s 11.5 sacks of the Giants’ quarterback.

*The Redskins have a plus-six turnover differential, and their defense has forced at least one turnover in 10 consecutive games, the NFL’s second-longest active streak behind Seattle’s 19 games.

*Smith’s 2,517 rushing yards place him fourth among active quarterbacks, behind Cam Newton, Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers.

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