The Giants are getting ready for a 0-3 Redskins team that is more dangerous than their record indicates. Here's what I saw looking at the coaches tape.
When the Redskins Have The Ball
The Spotlight: Quarterback Case Keenum
Case Keenum's numbers are good. He has completed 69% of his passes for 933 yards, with 7 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. He can manage the game, read defenses and get the ball where it needs to go. Evidenced by his three interceptions, he will put the ball into the some dangerous areas and force the ball to blanketed receivers. Because of his arm strength, defenders sometimes try to jump his throws in the short and intermediate areas. If you don't play sound, fundamental defense, Keenum will make you pay.
Quotebook -- Giants Head Coach Pat Shurmur: "I have a lot of respect for Case. I was with him the one year we were in Minnesota, we went 13-3 and had the Minneapolis Miracle thingy. I have a lot of respect for Case. I know when Teddy (Bridgewater) and Sam (Bradford), when those guys got hurt and Case was there, he stepped in and he was a warrior. He was a significant reason why the Vikings that year won as many games as they did. I certainly know that he can play extremely well, because I've seen it firsthand."
The Matchup: Wide receiver Terry McLaurin vs cornerback Janoris Jenkins
McLaurin has gotten off to fast start in his rookie season in the NFL. He has 16 catches for 257 yards and three touchdowns. He has the speed to get deep, strong hands to make contested catches, body control to make back shoulder grabs, and is a refined route runner. Jenkins had his issues with Mike Evans last week, but McLaurin is a different kind of threat. He is much smaller at 6-0 and 210 pounds but is quicker and more sudden in and out of his breaks.
Scheme and Tendencies
* The Redskins have a well-coordinated offense with a scheme that gets players open down the field. Against the Bears in Week 3, constant pressure prevented Keenum from making some of those plays. The Redskins have used 11 personnel on 161 of their 181 offensive plays. Jordan Reed's concussion has taken away their 12 personnel group, which featured both him and Vernon Davis on the field together.
Quotebook – Giants Head Coach Pat Shurmur:"I think Jay (Gruden) does a great job on offense. There were a lot of things… the pressure got to them just a little bit, but they were trying to do the right things against the coverage they were facing. I have a lot of respect for what (Coach Gruden) does on offense."
* Without Trent Williams at left tackle due to a contract holdout, the Redskins have struggled on the offensive line. Donald Penn is playing in his spot and has allowed two quarterback hits and six hurries. Right tackle Morgan Moses has allowed two sacks, five quarterback hits and 11 hurries. He and Pro Bowl right guard Brandon Scherff have struggled picking up some twists and stunts. Scherff is dealing with an ankle injury, and center Chase Roullier has a knee injury. Neither practiced on Wednesday or Thursday. Left guard Ereck Flowers, the former Giants, has allowed only five hurries, no sacks and no quarterbacks hits this season.
*According to PFF, the Redskins have run 36 play action passes this year. They will run those plays on early downs, and try to get the ball downfield off those fakes.
* The Redskins are only running the ball 28% of the time, the third lowest mark in the NFL. It is not a product of the scores of their games because they played the Eagles and Cowboys close into the second half. In the first halves of games, they are 18th in the league in run rate, with runs making up 37% of their plays . On first and 10, they are 22nd in the league in run frequency, at 37%. They only average 48 rushing yards per game, third fewest in the league.
* Those numbers don't mean Adrian Peterson still can't be an effective downhill runner. He is sometimes too anxious to bounce the ball outside in hopes of a big play, but he still gets yards after contact and runs hard. Chris Thompson is the change-of-pace back and is an effective receiver out of the backfield. They run a zone blocking scheme.
* The Redskins are not a big play offense. They tend to drive the ball in methodical fashion. They only have nine completions of 20 or more yards (tied for 20th in the NFL), and two runs of 10 yards or more (second fewest in the NFL). They have eight drives of 10 plays or more, the second most in the league. They average the fourth most plays per scoring drive in the NFL.
* Paul Richardson is the starting wide receiver across from McLaurin and has traditionally been a strong deep threat. At the slot receiver, Trey Quinn has replaced Jameson Crowder, who signed with the Jets in the offseason.
Keys For The Giants Defense
1. Get pressure on Case Keenum and force him into mistakes
2. Prevent big plays from Terry McLaurin
3. Be disciplined against the play-action game
Keep an eye on these five players when the Giants play the Redskins in Week 4.
When the Giants Have The Ball
The Spotlight: The Defensive Line
The Redskins are solid across their defensive line. Daron Payne is one of the best interior defensive linemen in the league and creates havoc in the run and pass game. According to PFF, he has a quarterback hit and five hurries playing primarily at nose tackle. Jonathan Allen has only played 51 snaps this season due to a knee injury, but he should be healthy this week. Matt Ioannidis is the other interior defensive lineman, and he had seven quarterback hurries against the Bears last week.
When the Redskins go to their sub-package, outside linebackers Ryan Kerrigan and rookie Montez Sweat convert to defensive end and rush the passer. Sweat uses his length well to separate from offensive linemen, but so far in his young career he has been better against the run than rushing the passer.
The Matchup: Edge Rusher Ryan Kerrigan
Kerrigan is a Giants killer with 11.5 sacks in 16 career games. He will line up primarily over right tackle Mike Remmers. According to PFF, Kerrigan has one sack, three quarterback hits and seven hurries this season. He is a smart and relentless player who wins as much with effort as he does with his impressive physical traits. Kerrigan can be a game wrecker and the Giants will have to do all they can to control him if they want to move the ball on offense.
Scheme and Tendencies
* The Redskins run Greg Manusky's 3-4 defense. After struggling to generate pressure in Week One against Philadelphia, the Redskins did a better job against the Cowboys and Bears. They blitz about 23 times per game, which is slightly above the league average, but only have five sacks. Opposing quarterbacks have a 116 quarterback rating when the Redskins blitz.
* Washington has a strong defensive line, but has allowed 142 rushing yards per game. They lost linebacker Zach Brown in free agency in the offseason, and it doesn't seem like their run defense has recovered from it.
* The Redskins play mostly single high safety and run either cover-one (man to man, one safety deep), or cover three (three deep zone) almost 65% of the time. They play man 40% of the time, their most frequent coverage. They will often line up in press, but seem to have issues consistently jamming at the line of scrimmage.
Quotebook -- Giants Wide Receiver Sterling Shepard: "They play a lot of one high man, so we have to do a great job this week of beating one high man. You have to beat your man and find a way to get open in zones as well, when they decide to go zone."
* The Redskins secondary has been hit with a few deep plays when the safeties and try to jump routes in the middle of the field instead of hanging in the deep zone. It puts their cornerbacks in one on one situations deep down the field. The Redskins have only allowed seven passes of 20 or more yards this year, tied for fifth fewest in the NFL. On passes that travel 21 or more yards in the air, however, opposing quarterbacks have a 129.5 quarterback rating.
* Josh Norman has an interception, but according to Pro Football Focus, he has allowed 13 catches on 22 targets for 225 yards and four touchdowns. He is strong in small areas. Quinton Dunbar, Fabian Moreau, Aaron Colvin and Jimmy Moreland all get time at cornerback with Norman.
* Landon Collins is playing well around the line of scrimmage, making plays in the run game and knifing into the backfield from the linebacker level. He hasn't been involved in many plays in space downfield. He also hasn't been asked to cover tight ends very often.
Quotebook -- Tight End Evan Engram on practicing against Landon Collins: "It definitely made me a better player versus man coverage and things like that, so it's going to be exciting playing against him. I saw him a couple weeks ago and definitely always wish him the best. It'll be fun this weekend."
* The Redskins are having trouble getting off the field on third down, allowing opponents to convert a league high 63% of the time. An even more damning number is that teams are converting 52.9% of third and seven or more yards, also the worst number in the league. According to PFF, quarterbacks in that down and distance are 15-16 for 272 yards, with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Due to those struggles on third down, the Redskins are 29th in the league in time of possession at under 27 minutes a game. Opposing teams are averaging over nine plays per drive, the third most in the league.
*According to PFF, opposing quarterbacks are completing 24 of 28 passes with 295 yards and three touchdowns when the Redskins are in cover three.
Keys When the Giants Have The Ball
1. Isolate cornerbacks for big plays
2. Run the ball
3. Dominate third downs
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See the Giants take on the Redskins on Sunday, Sept. 29 at 1:00 PM ET