EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Giants will attempt to retain both their lead in the NFC East and their recent success vs. Washington when they visit the Redskins Sunday in FedEx Field.
Coming out of their bye, the Giants are 5-5, one game ahead of both Washington and Philadelphia (which plays Thursday in Detroit). The Redskins lost last week at Carolina, 44-16. On Sept. 24, the Giants defeated Washington, 32-21, their fifth consecutive victory and sixth in their last seven games vs. the Redskins. The Giants lead the alltime regular-season series, 97-64-4. The Giants have played more games against Washington than any other opponent in their history.
Washington has won its last four home games, and is 4-1 overall in FedEx Field. Two of the Redskins' losses were on the road against New England and Carolina, the NFLs' lone remaining undefeated teams.
The Redskins are averaging 332.8 yards a game, placing them 28th in the NFL. The Redskins are 25th in the league in rushing yards (95.3 per game) and 20th in passing (237.5). Washington is 20th in scoring with an average of 22.1 points a game. The Redskins have 19 giveaways and a minus-five turnover differential.
Washington has led at halftime in six of its 10 games, but has been outscored in the third quarter, 59-27. The team has improved dramatically this season on third down, converting 43.3 percent of its opportunities, up from 31.5 last year.
Coach Jay Gruden would like the run game to relieve the pressure on quarterback Kirk Cousins, who was the NFC Offensive Player of the Week in Week 7 after leading Washington from a 24-point deficit to a victory over Tampa Bay. Cousins also had a perfect 158.3 passer rating and helped his team score the final 33 points in a 47-14 rout of New Orleans on Nov. 15. He has completed 69.3 percent of his passes, and thrown for 15 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. A rhythm thrower, Cousins is a good ball handler and effective in play action. He is 5-13 as a starter, including 0-3 vs the Giants. The backups are Colt McCoy and Robert Griffin III.
Alfred Morris leads Washington with 404 rushing yards, but he is averaging just 3.6 yards a carry, and has yet to score a touchdown this season. Morris, who has a rib injury, runs with power and has displayed an ability to break tackles. Matt Jones is an ascending rookie who is a big, strong physical runner with big-play ability. But he has lost four fumbles this season. Chris Thompson is an athletic runner and receiver as a third down, change-of-pace and two-minute back. He shows both quickness as a runner and strength in pass protection. Fullback Darrel Young can run, catch, and block.
The leading wideout is Pierre Garcon, who has athletic ability, foot quickness, vertical speed and dependable receiving skills. He is also a good blocker. DeSean Jackson missed six games with a hamstring injury, but he is Washington's most explosive receiver when healthy. Jackson is exceptionally quick, he can make athletic adjustments to the ball, and catches with strong hands. He scored his first touchdown of the season last week on a 56-yard reception. The slot receiver is rookie Jamison Crowder, who is smart and crafty. He has a good feel working inside, and runs well after catching the ball. Andre Roberts has quickness, body control and the speed to get down the seam with an ability to separate. Ryan Grant, who started when Jackson was sidelined, has good underneath to intermediate receiving skills. Rashad Ross has a quick release and tracks the ball well.
Tight end Jordan Reed leads Washington with 47 receptions and six touchdowns. He is a versatile player with speed, quickness and the ability to adjust mid-play. Derek Carrier is a tough, scrappy blocker who gives his all at the point of attack.
Left tackle Trent Williams is a three-time Pro Bowler who has good athletic ability, foot speed and flexibility, but he is slowed by a knee injury. Gruden this week said, "Even if he's limping around, he's probably better than a lot of tackles in the league." Williams has missed only one game, but if he can't play, Ty Nsekhe will fill in. He is a huge man (6-8, 325) with long arms, big hands and very good body range in pass protection. Right tackle Morgan Moses and rookie guard Brandon Scherff are the only opening-day linemen that have not missed a game due to injury. Moses has excellent arm length, and the strength to latch onto a pass rushing end. Scherff plays with intelligence and competitiveness, and is strong and tough. Left guard Spencer Long has the strength to clamp onto defensive linemen and a good hand jolt in pass protection. Center Josh LeRibeus is a scrappy player who gives great effort. The backups include Brian de La Puente, Tom Compton and Arie Kouandjio.
Washington's 3-4 defense is ranked 22nd in the NFL, allowing 370.1 yards per game. The unit is 30th vs. the run, giving up 136.0 yards a game, and 12th against the pass (234.1). The Redskins are tied for 24th in scoring defense, allowing 25.3 points a game. They gave up a season-high 44 points last week at Carolina. Washington has not allowed a 300-yard performance by an opposing quarterback this season. Thirteen of the Redskins' 14 takeaways have come in the last seven games.
Right end Jason Hatcher is a force against the run and displays excellent hand use and one-on-one strength rushing the passer. On the left side, Chris Baker is a powerful big man with athletic ability who is strong at the point of attack. He is second on the team with 4.0 sacks. Nose tackle Terrance Knighton has impressive strength that frequently enables him to fend off blocking linemen. Backup end Stephen Paea is a fast and explosive pass rusher. Ricky Jean Francois has good instincts, strength and exceptional hand use. Kedric Golston is a point of attack brawler with pass rush push. Frank Kearse has size and quickness.
Ryan Kerrigan, who lines up on both sides, is Washington's best linebacker. The team's sack leader with 4.5, he has upper body strength, impressive instincts and a variety of pass rush moves. Strongside backer Trent Murphy wins battles with size and effort. On the inside, Perry Riley, Jr. uses a quick burst to fill seams in the run game and as a blitzer. With Keenan Robinson nursing a shoulder injury, Will Compton has taken over as the fourth starter. He has the quickness to insert himself into running lanes. Robinson is an every-snap player when healthy. He has good instincts, speed and range. Rookie Preston Smith is a sub defensive end/outside linebacker with natural strength vs. the run and pass.
Cornerback Chris Culliver has been playing with shoulder and knee injuries. He is a savvy veteran with ball awareness and production. Bashaud Breeland is a starter on the outside who can move in to play the nickel position. He has good anticipation, and can make impact plays. Free safety Dashon Goldson leads the team with 93 tackles (58 solo) and has the ability to separate a receiver from the ball. Jeron Johnson was promoted to starting strong safety two weeks ago vs. New Orleans. He is active in run support and has good lateral quickness. Nickelback Will Blackmon is a savvy veteran who is best in bump-and-run coverage. He plays physical and gets his hands on receivers. Former starters Trenton Robinson and DeAngelo Hall, plus Kyshoen Jarrett also contribute. Hall missed five games with a toe injury, but has taken snaps at safety in the dime defense in the two games since his return.
WASHINGTON SPECIAL TEAMS
Since assuming the kicking duties from Kai Forbath after the season opener, Dustin Hopkins has made 16 of 17 field goal attempts, missing only a 53-yard try. He has improved his kickoff hang times and has 30 touchbacks. Punter Tress Way, who had one of his kicks blocked by Rashad Jennings in the first meeting with the Giants, has a 46.1-yard gross average and a 38.8-yard average and good directional ability. Rashad Ross gashed the Giants with a 101-yard kickoff return touchdown in September, and last week, Roberts scored on a 99-yarder vs. the Panthers. Opponents must always be aware of their speed. Crowder has all nine Washington punt returns, for an average of 5.2 yards.
Playmakers on Washington's first-team offense, defense, and special teams, presented by Nike