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Redskins-Giants: 4 Keys To The Game

Posted Dec 11, 2014

Redskins.com’s Andrew Walker breaks down the key players and matchups to keep an eye on during Sunday’s Redskins-Giants 2014 Week 15 showdown at MetLife Stadium.

Redskins.com’s Andrew Walker breaks down the key players and matchups to keep an eye on during Sunday’s Redskins-Giants 2014 Week 15 showdown at MetLife Stadium.

“Redskins-Giants: 4 Keys To The Game” is presented by Papa John’s.

Every Monday, fans can order a large cheese pizza for only $9.99, plus for each touchdown that the Redskins score, fans get one free topping. And with a Redskins victory, fans get double the toppings.

FORGET ABOUT IT
As usual, the Washington Redskins’ players and coaches are watching tons of film this week as they prepare for Sunday’s road matchup against the New York Giants.

But one game the Redskins probably aren’t paying much attention to: the Redskins-Giants Week 4 matchup Sept. 25 at FedExField.

The game — which was nationally televised on Thursday Night Football — got out of hand early for Washington, which trailed 24-7 at halftime. And although the Redskins’ first drive of the second half resulted in a 20-yard rushing touchdown by Alfred Morris to cut the Giants’ lead to 24-14, New York did the rest from there, taking advantage of multiple Washington turnovers to finish the game on a 21-0 run in its 45-14 victory.

The Giants dominated in just about every statistical category that night in Landover, Md., including total yards (449 to 329), penalties (7 to 11), turnovers (1 to 6), time of possession (37:17 to 22:43) and third down efficiency (11-of-16 to 1-of-8).

On Sunday, the look for the Redskins to possibly dial up a little more pressure on Giants quarterback Eli Manning. In that Week 4 matchup, Washington only registered one sack on the evening — a takedown by outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan — and, according to ESPN, Manning was “sacked or under duress on just two of his 41 dropbacks” (5 percent) that evening, his second-lowest pressure percentage since the 2009 season.

For example: according to ESPN, the Redskins sent five or more pass rushers on just 24 percent of Manning’s first-half dropbacks. This number could rise — and rise dramatically — on Sunday.

Kerrigan, meanwhile, said this week he isn’t forgetting about the Redskins’ last two games against the Giants: their 45-14 loss Week 4 of this season, and their 20-6 loss in East Rutherford, N.J., last year on a cold, rainy day that ended their 2013 season.

“We owe them one, for sure,” said Kerrigan, who has a career-high 11.5 sacks this season. “They got us really the last two times we played. At Giants Stadium last year, they kind of put it on us and then this past one at home was just abysmal by us.”

And, yes, of course Kerrigan wants to rush the passer on Sunday. But stopping the run continues to be a primary focus for the Washington defense, he said.

“Got to stop the run first and foremost, because defensively, they can do that,” he said. “If they can run the ball, then having a balanced attack is not a good thing.”

AVOID THE O-ZONE
One weapon the Redskins didn’t have to deal with in their Week 4 matchup against the Giants has absolutely taken off like few rookies before him ever have.

Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who missed the team’s entire preseason and first four games of the regular season with a hamstring issue, has been spectacular since his Week 5 debut against the Atlanta Falcons, when he caught four passes for 44 yards and a touchdown.

Beckham Jr. joined the starting lineup in Week 9, and since that time, according to NFL.com, he joined Bill Groman of 1960 Houston Oilers fame as the only rookies with at least 90 receiving yards in six straight games. Beckham Jr. and Groman  are also the only first-year players with 700 or more receiving yards over a six-game span.

Yes, the production is nice, but Beckham Jr. gained the world’s attention Week 12 against the Dallas Cowboys. His numbers were outstanding — 10 receptions for 146 yards and two touchdowns — but his one-handed touchdown catch along the sideline — while being dragged down and staying in bounds — was one of the greatest plays in recent NFL memory.

Since that time, Beckham Jr.’s jersey from that game has been displayed at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, and the LSU product — the Giants’ first-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft — was seen dining with his hero, LeBron James, in New York City.

Giants.com’s Michael Eisen said Beckham Jr. has responded “very well” to the added attention.

“He’s working hard and I don’t think it’s gone to his head in any way,” Eisen told Redskins.com this week. “I don’t know how much more he can do. … If he hadn’t missed the first four games with a hamstring injury, he might be leading the league in receptions.”

It’ll be interesting to see what kind of plan Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett and defensive backs coach Raheem Morris can put together in an effort to slow Beckham Jr. down on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

PROTECT THE PASSER
The Giants’ defense is on a tear the past two weeks, recording 15 sacks from all kinds of positions on the field.

Seven of those sacks have come from defensive linemen, six were from the linebacker position and the secondary was responsible for two of its own.

The recent streak has certainly been an outlier for the New York defense, considering it came into its Week 13 matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars — a game the Giants lost 25-24 — with just 19 total sacks in its previous 11 games.

New York has been led by rookie linebacker Devon Kennard, who on Wednesday was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week. He has four sacks in his last two games — a Giants rookie record (yes, some guy named Taylor never even did that) — and has been the beneficiary of a more blitz-happy approach, Eisen said.

“They’re getting more people involved in the pressure,” he said. “I just think really it’s a commitment. I think they got tired of hearing they can’t rush the passer so they went out and started rushing the passer.”

So it’s safe to say the Redskins’ offensive line has a lot to handle on Sunday, when they’ll be playing a confident Giants defensive unit. Washington has struggled in pass protection all season, allowing 46 sacks, the second most in the league, which is something that everybody on the offense — not just the lineman — can share, head coach Jay Gruden said.

“We’ve just go to do a better job with our technique, our fundamentals,” he said Monday. “Sometimes the quarterbacks hold onto the ball too long, sometimes it’s a fundamental issue, every now and then it’s a hell of rush by the defensive player.”

If the Redskins can get their rushing game on point with Morris on Sunday, then that’s one simple way to neutralize the Giants’ pass rush. Other than that, Gruden and the Redskins simply want to see better fundamentals displayed — and fewer mental mistakes — moving forward.

BE SOMETHING SPECIAL
The Redskins’ special teams woes in 2013 have been well documented, and certainly don’t need to be rehashed here.

So after seeing much of the same to start the 2014 season, the Redskins’ special teams unit appeared like it was getting on the right track — that was, until last Sunday’s game against the St. Louis Rams.

Not only did it allow a 78-yard punt return for a touchdown against Tavon Austin — who, in turn, was named the NFC’s Special Teams Player of the Week — but the Redskins’ special teams units also failed on a fake punt attempt and allowed a successful two-point conversion on a fake St. Louis kick.

In the wake of that performance, the Redskins decided enough was enough. This week, the team waived three players — each of whom played primarily on special teams — and signed three others — linebackers Ja'Gared Davis and Trevardo Williams and cornerback Justin Rogers — to their active roster.

Gruden confirmed Wednesday the team is “trying to shuffle a few guys around [to] try to help us out on special teams a little bit — guys with some of that mentality.”

“Moving forward we’re just going to continue to try to tinker with our roster,” Gruden said. “We’ll take a look at them and see how it goes. We’re just trying to add players to our roster here that can help us not only this year, but in the future.”

According to CSNWashington.com’s Rich Tandler, the Redskins are looking to break a couple special teams-related streaks Sunday against the Giants:

  • They are looking for their first kick return for a touchdown since Oct. 31, 2010 (96-yard kickoff return by Brandon Banks). Since that time, Washington has allowed 10 kick return touchdowns.
  • They are hoping to get a touchdown off a blocked punt for the first time since at least 1998.


These are the “splash plays” Gruden talks about that the Redskins need to run into every once in a while that really make a difference week in and week out.

RELATED LINKS:
Game Information: Redskins-Giants
FedEx ONE To Watch: Redskins-Giants

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