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Film Study

Film Study: Scouting the Washington Football Team

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The Giants take on Washington this Sunday. Washington has lost four straight games after a season-opening win over the Eagles, while the Giants are looking for their first victory.

When Washington has the ball…

* The Redskins have struggled on offense this year. They rank last in the NFL in yards per game (263), yards per play (4.19) and 30th in points per game (17.8). They rank last in the NFL in yards per rush play and 31st in yards per pass play. Washington has eight giveaways (five fumbles, three interceptions) and seven takeaways (six interceptions, one fumble).

* It appears that Kyle Allen is on track to start Sunday. He only played one half before he injured his shoulder against the Rams in Week 5. His injury prompted a major change in the style of their QB positions, making it misleading to look at too many of Washington's trends.

Last year, however, Allen played 13 games in Washington offensive coordinator Scott Turner's offense in Carolina. In those games, he completed 62% of his passes for 3,322 yards with 17 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. Pro Football Focus tracked him for 34 turnover-worthy plays during the season, which was second to Jameis Winston.

* Allen is a mobile quarterback who can run with the football. He rushed for 106 yards and two TDs in 2019.

* If Allen cannot play Sunday, it will likely be Alex Smith who gets the start. He played his first NFL snaps last week after suffering a life-threatening compound fracture of his leg at the end of the 2018 season. Smith is a smart veteran who knows where to go with the football.

* Washington has struggled in pass protection this season. According to PFF, they've allowed pressure on 32.4% of their snaps, which is the 12th-worst rate in the league. They have allowed sacks on 10.3% of their dropbacks, which is the highest rate in the NFL. Only the Bengals and Eagles have allowed more sacks than Washington's 23.

* Pro Bowl guard Brandon Scherff should return this week after spending the last three weeks on injured reserve with a knee injury. He will insert next to right tackle Morgan Moses, who has played well this year. According to PFF he has only allowed one sack, four quarterback hits, and two hurries. At left tackle. 2018 third-round pick Geron Christian is starting for the departed Trent Williams. He has allowed five sacks, six quarterback hits, and nine hurries according to PFF. Chase Roullier is a solid veteran starter, while Wes Martin has allowed four sacks, two quarterback hits, and eight hurries at left guard.

* According to PFF, Washington runs screen passes on 14.2% of their pass plays, which is the 6th-highest rate in the league. They will try to get the ball to Antonio Gibson and JD McKissic in space. It is one of the reasons that Washington is third in the league in yards after the catch per reception (6.4).

* Washington runs their offense out of "11" personnel 71.7% of the time, which is the 10th-highest rate in the NFL. They are 9th in the NFL in shift/motion rate (56.6%) and 17th in play-action pass rate (24.9% of their pass plays). They have not thrown the ball down the field much this year, ranking 26th in pass attempts of over 20 yards (14) and tied for 27th in pass plays of 15 yards or more (23).

* Rookie running back Antonio Gibson is Washington's "do-everything" threat out of the backfield. He played receiver at Memphis before being drafted in the third round. He has 213 rushing yards (3.9 yards per carry) and 15 receptions for 122 yards. He is fast and elusive with big play potential. JD McKissic is the second half of their running back tandem and gets a lot of action in the passing game, where he has collected 17 receptions for 124 yards.

* Terry McLaurin is Washington's primary threat at wide receiver. He has 29 catches for 413 yards (14.2 yards per catch) and one touchdown. He posted a 4.35 40 yard dash at the NFL Combine and is a precise route runner. No other wide receiver has more than 12 catches. Dontrell Inman is a big-bodied receiver at 6-3 and 205 pounds. Wide receiver Steven Sims was placed on injured reserve with a toe injury. Logan Thomas is their primary tight end. He has 14 catches for 106 yards.

* Washington has struggled on third down. They are only converting on 30% of their opportunities, which is the lowest rate in the league. They have been successful in the red zone, scoring on 71% of their appearances.

When The Giants Have The Ball…

* The strength of Washington's defense in their front four. It features five extremely talented first-round picks, including edge rushers Montez Sweat (2019) and Chase Young (second overall this year). They will line up on both ends of the line, although Sweat will line up over the opponent's left tackle more often than not. According to PFF, Sweat has 3 sacks, four quarterback hits, and nine hurries. Chase Young, meanwhile, has 2.5 sacks, two quarterback hits and six hurries in 30 fewer pass rushing snaps. Young missed week four with a groin injury. Ryan Kerrigan has fewer pass rushing snaps than either Sweat or Young, but still has the highest win rate (15.5%) of the trio. He has two sacks and five quarterback hurries and has a history of doing a lot of damage against the Giants.

* Washington's two defensive tackles cannot be overlooked. According to PFF, fellow first-round pick Jonathan Allen (2017) has 1.5 sacks and eight quarterback hurries and 2018 first-rounder Daron Payne has a half sack, one quarterback hit, and 10 hurries. Both players are also strong against the run with two tackles for losses between them. The Redskins' defensive line has the potential to wreck a game, as they did against the Eagles in Week 1, when they sacked Carson Wentz eight times.

* Washington trusts their front four to get to the quarterback. They only blitz 19.1% of the time, which is the fifth-lowest rate in the NFL. Despite a low blitz rate, they still rank 12th in the NFL in pressure rate (32.8%) and 4th in sack rate (8.2%). They only use stunts 13.5% of the time, which is the 22nd-highest rate in the NFL.

* The Redskins prioritize stopping the run on early downs. They have used an eight-man box against running plays 62 times this year, which is the 10th-most in the NFL. Landon Collins is still a very effective player against the run and is often hovering near the line of scrimmage. Middle linebacker Jon Bostic is a downhill linebacker that has three tackles for loss, two sacks, and two quarterback hits.

* The Redskins have used more zone defense than most NFL teams. According to PFF, they have only played "Cover 1" 18% of the time, which is the 7th-lowest rate in the NFL. They play "Cover 3" 29.6% of the time, which is the 12th-highest rate in the league. They play quarters, which is a four-deep coverage, more than any other team in the NFL (33.5% of the time). They have only allowed 26 pass plays of 15 yards or more, which is tied for 8th-best in the NFL. On passes that travel at least 20 yards in the air, Washington opponents have completed 9-of-24 passes for 346 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.

* Kendall Fuller is Washington's top cornerback. He missed the first two games of the season with a knee injury, and was immediately entered into the starting lineup upon his return. He has played every snap the last three weeks. According to PFF, Fuller has only allowed three catches for 56 yards in his last three games. He leads the team with three interceptions and is also capable of playing in the slot.

* Ronald Darby is the second starting cornerback, and he has allowed 13 catches for 236 yards and a touchdown. He is physical at the line of scrimmage, and in past seasons he has been susceptible to double-moves. Jimmy Moreland is the team's nickel cornerback.

* Troy Apke is the free safety and Kevin Pierre-Louis is their primary coverage linebacker.

* The Redskins have been a strong third-down defense, stopping opponents on 60% of their attempts which ranks 12th-best in the NFL. Their red zone defense is tied for 18th-best in the NFL at 64.7%.

View rare photos of the all-time series between the New York Giants and the Washington Football Team.

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