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Eye on the Redskins: Scouting Report

Eye-on-The-Redskins-Mark-Sanchez

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J – The Giants, who have won three of their last four games, will look to continue their second-half surge Sunday when they face the Washington Redskins at FedExField. An overtime victory last week vs. Chicago improved the Giants’ record to 4-8. Washington lost its third consecutive game on Monday night in Philadelphia and is 6-6. On Oct. 30, Adrian Peterson scored a pair of touchdowns as the Redskins defeated the Giants in MetLife Stadium, 20-13. The Giants lead the regular-season series, 99-68-4.

What is the Redskins’ biggest strength?

Their running game, which has become more crucial to their fortunes with the loss of quarterbacks Alex Smith and Colt McCoy to fractured legs. Washington rushed for 182 yards in the first Giants game, including 149 by Peterson, who boosted his total with a 64-yard touchdown run. The 12-year veteran scored on a 90-yard run against the Eagles, but it was Washington’s only touchdown in a 28-13 loss. Mark Sanchez, who took over when McCoy went down on Monday, has played in only seven games, starting two, since the beginning of the 2015 season. The Redskins will almost certainly feed the ball to Peterson and look to control the game on the ground.

Which player is key to the Redskins’ offense?

The temptation is to say Sanchez, who completed 13 of 21 passes for 110 yards in his Redskins debut in Philadelphia. If he can play at a high level, Washington can stay in playoff contention. But a more significant determinant will be the play of Peterson, who has scored eight total touchdowns and is eighth in the NFL with 856 rushing yards – at age 33. The coaches reduced his workload after his 26-carry performance against the Giants; he has not had more than 19 attempts in a game since then. But as he demonstrated with his career-long 90-yard run in Philly, Peterson is very capable of gashing a defense.

What is the strength of the Redskins’ offense?

Tight ends Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis are excellent complements to the run game. Reed’s 83 targets, 54 catches and 558 receiving yards lead his teammates by a wide margin. He is the fourth-most targeted tight end in the NFL. Davis has better straightline speed and, at 34 years old, is still a dangerous receiver down the seam. He has 19 catches, and his 16.8-yard average leads all NFL tight ends. Washington did get two dangerous receivers back in Philadelphia in wideout Jamison Crowder and running back Chris Thompson.

Which player is key to the Redskins’ defense?

Few players torment the Giants as reliably as Washington’s weakside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan. He had 1.5 sacks in October to raise his career takedowns of Eli Manning to 10.5, the highest total among active players and second among all players who Manning has faced in his 15-year career (Demarcus Ware is first with 13.5). Kerrigan leads Washington this season with 8.0 sacks, including 7.0 in the last seven games.

What is the strength of the Redskins’ defense?

The front seven, though the starting safeties deserve a special mention. The Redskins’ last two first-round draft choices have been stout linemen from Alabama. The first was Jonathan Allen (6-3, 294 pounds), who was joined this year by Daron Payne (6-3, 319). They team with linebackers Preston Smith (6-5, 265 pounds) and Kerrigan (6-4, 259) to help give Washington a run defense that is ranked ninth in the NFL, allowing 102.8 yards per game on the ground. The Giants rushed for just 37 yards in the teams’ first meeting. Two days after facing the Giants, the Redskins traded with Green Bay to obtain safety Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix, who has teamed with D.J. Swearinger to give them a pair of outstanding players in the back of the defense. Swearinger intercepted two Manning passes in October. Clinton-Dix is big and fast, and can match up with tight ends and running backs in man-to-man coverage.

Which player is key to the Redskins’ special teams?

Punter Tress Way leads the NFL with 33 kicks downed inside the 20-yard line and is seventh with a 44.2-yard net average.

The Redskins’ injury report:

Washington has 14 players on injured reserve, including four offensive players who started against the Giants six weeks ago – Smith, wide receiver Paul Richardson, and guards Brandon Scherff and Shawn Lauvao. On Monday, they lost their replacement starting quarterback, McCoy, and new starting guards (Jonathan Cooper and Tony Bergstrom, the latter who is not on IR). Starting cornerback Quinton Dunbar also went on injured reserve this week. Washington added three players to its roster on Wednesday and will hope the condition of some of its injured players improves by Sunday.

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

The defense must wrap up Peterson and prevent him from going off on another 149-yard binge. The Giants did a good job keeping Thompson in check and must do so again. Offensively, the Redskins run defense is strong. But they are hurting on the corners, so the Giants need to exploit that and move the ball through the air.

Statistics you should know:

*Washington is tied for fifth in the NFL with a plus-nine turnover differential. The Redskins’ 22 takeaways are tied for the league’s fourth-highest total.

*Sanchez, who was signed on Nov. 19, a day after Smith fractured his leg against Houston, last started a game on Nov. 26, 2015, a Thanksgiving Day game for Philadelphia at Detroit. His offensive coordinator was Pat Shurmur.

*Sanchez last started and won a game on Dec. 28, 2014, for Philadelphia – against the Giants in MetLife Stadium.

*Kerrigan is one of six NFL players to start every game since the start of the 2011 season, his rookie year. He has never missed a game in his career.

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