The narrow 23-27 loss to the reigning Super Bowl champions, the New York Giants is not a complete disaster. The Redskins have slipped to fourth in the NFC East but of the four games they have lost, the biggest losing margin suffered is seven points.
With a 3-4 start the Washington Redskins are still on course for an improvement over last season, there have been close losses where the game could have gone either way. The St Louis game and last night’s game against the Giants were both decided by three and four points respectively.
The win over the New Orleans Saints showed just what this team can do, on their day they are a match for most.
Pierre Garcon’s injury troubles mean most of the Redskins attack is going through three players, Robert Griffin III, Santana Moss and Alfred Morris.
Morris and Griffin have been revelations in the running game; no other player has a rushing touchdown. As far as Griffin is concerned his run ability was well charted but the frequency of runs he is making is also a worry. The charismatic quarterback has scored six rushing touchdowns while throwing for seven.
Running back Morris made such an impression in pre-season that he gained the number-one back role; he has since taken that job and run with it. Morris has the second highest number of touchdowns, behind Griffin with five. Morris has had 138 rushing attempts so far, averaging 4.8 yards per carry for a total of 658. If he continues with this form a 1,000 rushing yard season is easily possible.
Typically for a rookie, sometimes Griffin’s decision making is questionable, he has seven interceptions in seven games, which is not bad but sometimes he makes the wrong read. Much like many rookie quarterbacks, Griffin occasionally holds on to the ball too long too. Last night he took a couple of heavy sacks one leading to him fumbling the ball. Jason Pierre-Paul was on it like a flash and the Giants won the ball back.
These slight errors in judgement aside, it is clear that Griffin is, in his own words ‘as advertised’. He is every bit the quarterback the fans and franchise hoped. Redskins can’t afford to lose him for any sustained period of injury.
Tight end Fred Davis has been Griffin’s go to receiver, without getting a single touchdown. Davis tore his achilles tendon last night; he will now miss the rest of the season. Providing he passes a medical, Chris Cooley will have a chance to return to the team, having been cut when the 53 man roster was finalised. Cooley will have to grab the chance with both hands.
Of the wide receiving core, only Santana Moss has put up decent numbers for the Burgundy and Gold at the moment. Moss has four touchdowns. Against the Giants, Moss collected an over-the-shoulder 30 yard touchdown pass from Griffin for a beautiful touchdown.
That was not the best bit of play from Moss though, as he took a short pass from Griffin and evaded the entire Giants defense before making his way into the end-zone. The ex New York Jet will be hoping to keep his form going and to cement his place as number one receiver.
Although Washington’s offence has been performing nicely, with the fifth highest yards per game (406.3), the highest number of rushing yards (177 per game) and the sixth highest points scored per game (28.7), the defense has hardly got out of first gear.
Cornerback DeAngelo Hall leads the team in interceptions and also has 44 tackles. The team though are not high on interceptions overall with only 10 in seven games.
Linebackers London Fletcher and Perry Riley are racking up the tackles with a combined figure of 117 between them. Fletcher is in his 15th season now and it shows, he is expected to undergo an MRI scan to determine the seriousness of a hamstring injury suffered against the Giants. Former LSU man Riley could do with some support in the middle.
The team has only 13 sacks between them in the first seven games, leader in the sack race so far is Ryan Kerrigan. The second year linebacker out of Perdue University has 3.5 sacks, including one against the Saints’ star quarterback Drew Brees.
Brian Orakpo and Adam Carriker’s absences have been felt deeply, their experience and presence on the field is missed. The loss of Orakpo has particularly hurt. Last year’s leader in sacks has not been adequately replaced by second round rookie Jarvis Jenkins. Rob Jackson is no direct replacement for Adam Carriker either, although Jackson has made two interceptions since coming into the team, putting him joint top of the interceptions list with Hall.
Safety Brandon Meriweather has yet to make the field, due to injury and looks to be out until at least the first week of November. The Redskins will be hoping that the veteran summer free agent signing will be fit soon to assist Madieu Williams and the struggling secondary.
If this defense can pick up their play this team can pick up a few more wins and continue to impress. If they cannot it is hard to see the offence being able to carry the team all the way to the playoffs. One thing is for sure, the areas of strengthening in next year’s are draft are becoming more obvious by the week.
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