Get to know the Giants' opponent for their Week 15 matchup vs. Washington
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –**
The Giants will attempt to build some momentum from their victory over Houston and even their record at 2-2 when they face the Washington Redskins Thursday night in FedEx Field. Washington is also 1-2, with a win over Jacksonville and losses to Houston and Philadelphia. In 2013, the Giants swept their season series with Washington for the first time since 2010, winning in FedEx, 24-17, on Dec. 1 and in MetLife Stadium, 20-6, in the season finale on Dec. 29. The Giants have faced the Redskins 162 times in the regular season since their first game in 1932, making this their most frequently-contested rivalry. They lead the regular-season series, 94-64-4. The Giants are 9-7-1 in FedEx Field.
WASHINGTON REDSKINS OFFENSE
Under new head coach and play-caller Jay Gruden, Washington's offense has started the season impressively. The Redskins are second in the NFL with 444.0 yards a game and fifth with 81 points. Despite having one of the NFL's best receiving crops, Washington relies on a power rushing attack to fuel its offense. Last year's output of 135.3 yards per game on the ground ranked fifth in the league. Through three games this year, the rush offense is ranked ninth – but the average is the same 135.3 yards a game. Washington has two new offensive starters in wide receiver DeSean Jackson, the former Eagle, and left guard Shawn Lauvao, who suffered a knee injury and did not play in the second half of Washington's 37-34 loss Sunday in Philadelphia.
With Robert Griffin III sidelined indefinitely with a dislocated ankle suffered against the Jaguars, Kirk Cousins is the Redskins' quarterback. The third-year pro has made five career starts. Since taking over, Cousins has completed 52 of 81 passes (64.2 percent) for 677 yards, five touchdowns and one interception. Cousins, who completed 30 passes and threw for three scores in Philly, is an impressive downfield thrower with arm strength and accuracy. If he is flushed out of the pocket, he can make good throws if he's moving to his right. Five-year veteran Colt McCoy is Cousins' backup.
Alfred Morris finished fourth in the NFL last year with 1,275 rushing yards and after three weeks, he is again fourth (right behind the Giants' Rashad Jennings) with 253 yards. But Morris totaled just 88 yards in two games against the Giants last season and he missed time in the Philly game with a knee injury. He is a powerful first- and second-down back with outstanding vision and natural running skills. Morris can run distances if gets a crease, but he comes out on third down. Roy Helu Jr. is a nifty runner with good change of direction quickness and a quick burst upfield. He is also a reliable receiver with run-after-the-catch skills. Rookie Silas Redd is a tough and competitive one-cut back with good hands. All three of those backs have run for touchdowns this season. Fullback Darrel Young, who can block, catch and run well in short-yardage and goal line situations, has scored a touchdown in each game this season (two receptions and a run).
Jackson is a three-time Pro Bowler whose 81-yard touchdown reception Sunday against his former team was his 18th covering 50 yards or more, the most in the NFL since 2008. He is an explosive player with sudden moves, quickness and strong hands, plus the ability to accelerate with the ball in his hands. Pierre Garcon led the NFL last season with 113 receptions and was just the third player in history with at least five catches in every game of a 15-game season. He has a team-leading 22 catches this season. Garcon has vertical speed, football intelligence and strength after the catch. Aldrick Robinson has a quick takeoff and is sudden at the breakpoint of his routes. Andre Roberts had at least 43 receptions in each of his last three seasons with Arizona. He is a slot receiver with good body control and the speed to get down the seam. Rookie Ryan Grant has good intermediate/underneath receiving skills. Santana Moss, now in his 14th season, has been inactive for every game this season.
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Second-year pro Jordan Reed is a good receiving tight end with speed and sure hands. Logan Paulson is a rugged blocker on the run and in pass protection. Niles Paul is a smooth receiver who can also block.
Washington has revamped its offensive line and Lauvao's injury could result in more shifting. Left tackle Trent Williams is a heavy-bodied player with good athletic ability and foot speed. He is a solid run and pass anchor. Lauvao was a starter in Cleveland before joining the Redskins. He is a wide-bodied player with a strong upper body. Kory Lichtensteiger started 51 games at left guard before moving to center this season. He is an alert lineman who plays with smarts and toughness. Lichtensteiger, who is battling groin, rib and hip injuries, left the Eagles game in the first quarter, but returned to finish the game. Chris Chester then moved from right guard to center and Josh LeRibeus stepped in at guard. Chester plays with good balance and leverage. Right tackle Tyler Polumbus is a 6-8, 308-pounder who can steer a pass rusher away from the quarterback. Backup tackle Tom Compton sometimes lines up as an extra tight end.
WASHINGTON REDSKINS DEFENSE
Although the Redskins allowed 478 points last season, the league's second-highest total, Gruden retained defensive coordinator Jim Haslett, who has changed the unit into a more aggressive and attacking defense. Washington, a 3-4 team, is currently ranked fourth in the NFL in yards allowed (282.7 a game) and 11th in scoring defense (64 points). Washington has allowed an NFL-low 46 first downs. The defense has two new starters in right end Jason Hatcher and free safety Ryan Clark, the former Giant.
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Hatcher is disruptive against both the run and pass, thanks to his athleticism, quickness, speed and strength. He has 2.5 sacks in three games. Left end Jarvis Jenkins is strong at the point of attack and does his best work against the run. He sometimes moves inside to nose tackle. Chris Baker – who gained notoriety Sunday when he was ejected after hitting Philly quarterback Nick Foles - has good strength and is quick to shed blockers in the middle of the line. Kedric Golston is a versatile backup defensive end and nose tackle. He is an attacker against the run and a power rusher vs. the pass. Clifton Geathers is a big man with good lateral agility and range along the line of scrimmage. Frank Kearse is a high-effort player.
Left outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan leads the team with 4.0 sacks. He is an instinctive pass rusher who uses a variety of moves and is aggressive pursuing the ball. On the other side, Brian Orakpo is a physical, aggressive sudden athlete with an excellent closing burst. On the inside, Perry Riley Jr. is a good athlete with downhill speed. Next to him is Keenan Robinson, a young, fast linebacker who plays solidly against both the run and pass. Rookie Trent Murphy plays in the nickel. The other backups are Will Compton, Adam Hayward, Gabe Miller and Akeem Jordan.
Washington lost starting left cornerback DeAngelo Hall, a three-time Pro Bowler and one of the team's top defensive playmakers, for the season with a torn Achilles tendon suffered in Philadelphia. Safety Duke Ihenacho was also placed on injured reserve with a fractured heel. Hall will be replaced by rookie Bashaud Breeland, a fourth-round draft choice from Clemson with good reaction quickness underneath. Breeland aggressively inserts himself in run support. Right cornerback David Amerson has improved quickness and confidence and good ball awareness. Strong safety Brandon Meriweather quickly diagnoses the play and reads the quarterback and is tough against the run. Clark has football smarts and is productive vs. both the run and pass. Tracy Porter has not played because of a hamstring injury, so the nickel corner is E.J. Biggers, who is quick and tracks the ball well. Chase Minnifield was signed off the practice squad to give the team four healthy corners. Trenton Robinson and Akeem Davis are the backup safeties.
WASHINGTON REDSKINS SPECIAL TEAMS
Washington's new special teams coordinator is Ben Kotwica, whose units have had issues early in the season. In the season opener in Houston, the Redskins had an extra point and a punt blocked, with the latter returned for a touchdown. Last week, Washington surrendered a 102-yard kickoff return. Kai Forbath is an accurate field goal kicker (he's four for five this season), but he is battling a groin injury and yields to punter Tress Way on kickoffs. Way, who also holds for Forbath, is a first-year pro who gets good hang time on his punts. Andre Roberts frequently eludes the first man down as the kickoff and punt returner. He is averaging 10.1 yards on 10 punt returns and 23.0 yards on four kickoff returns. The long snapper is veteran Nick Sundberg.