For the Washington Redskins, the distraction of Robert Griffin’s health is no longer relevant. This week, head coach Mike Shanahan said unless a “crazy setback” were to happen, the reining offensive rookie of the year is ready to go.
He better be, because their Monday night opener against the Philadelphia Eagles is big. Due to the Redskins’ success last season, their schedule is difficult, each game is crucial and the implications of divisional games are magnified. Let’s get this season started; here’s my preview of the Eagles versus Redskins Monday Night game, beginning with the visitors’ keys to the game.
Philadelphia Eagles Offensive Keys:
I have no idea what we are going to see from this Eagles’ offense for two reasons. First, because in Richmond, Virginia, Eagles preseason games are not televised(shocker) and secondly because Chip Kelly is smart enough not to reveal his entire offense in the preseason.
Expect a lot of draws, counters, and read options. The latter of those three will be held to a minimal for the purposes of protecting quarterback Mike Vick. Look for a good mix of Shady McCoy and Bryce Brown carrying the ball.
It’s going to come down to whether or not the offensive line can hold up. My major concern is if the Eagles are deep enough, because when the game is played at the speed they wish to play at, the big guys up front will need pretty consistent relief off the bench. Vick now automatically breaks contain due to the low level of trust he has in his O-line and the trust building needs to begin Monday night.
The key player offensively will be DeSean Jackson. We all know this guy has big play capabilities and with Jeremy Maclin out for the year, Jackson will be getting a lot of targets. He will need a big play in this game and with the vertical threat he is I wouldn’t be surprised if he busts a big play.
Stopping the Redskins’ offense is a task that requires some cerebral play and the Eagles were 29th in points allowed last season. I doubt things have gotten much better.
In the last eleven games of the season last year, the Eagles’ defense held no team under twenty points and held teams under thirty only four of those games. The combination of DeMeco Ryans and Fletcher Cox will be key, because these guys need to get good penetration and disrupt the read option. Trent Cole had three sacks last season, which isn’t bad, but in the 3-4 you gotta cut this guy loose!
This is a rebuilding defense and playing against the Redskins is not a great place to begin working things out.
Washington Redskins: Offensive Keys
I am not the brainwashed Redskins fan who worships at the feet of Robert Griffin III. I am also not in the contingent of fans who seemed to be upset with Mike Shanahan for the way he handled the RGIII situation and not giving into Griffin’s persistence in asking for more freedom during the preseason.
I am very happy with how Shanahan handled the situation by sticking to a process set last January and he has made sure Robert has stuck to that plan and not rushed back to play. But the injury is a thing of the past, and it will be interesting to see how the Redskins fare.
I would not be surprised to see a lot more passing from the Redskins offense given the overall hesitation to just start running read options again due to Griffin’s health. Alfred Morris is a power back, and typically you don’t see power running backs in spread offenses so if they resort to more conventional, between-the-tackles running, I don’t think there will be much of a difference in performance.
RGIII will be able to show off his prolific arm strength and improved accuracy. Another bonus for Griffin is that star wide receiver Pierre Garcon is now healthy and if he remains that way the duo could terrorize secondaries this season. The key player for the Skins offensively will be tight end Fred Davis, who is coming off Achilles surgery. the Redskins love going to the tight end in the passing game and it showed last year as the tight end position had 50 receptions between Logan Paulsen and Fred Davis. Davis can have a huge year if he can remain healthy.
Washington was ranked 30th against the pass in yards per game last year. Luckily for them, Philly isn’t the air it out type of team.
Chip Kelly isn’t really the guy to air it out deep, which is where undersized corners such as DeAngelo Hall are weak. Also the addition of David Amerson, former NC State corner, gives them some height in the secondary.
The Redskins are good against the run and the emphasis will be on the linebackers to read this intricate, high speed offense. Nothing gets past 38-year-old warrior London Fletcher, who is one of the elite offense-readers in the league. It will be up to him to direct traffic and not necessarily make the big plays, but he will be the one making the on-field adjustments for the Redskins, which will be crucial in this game.
Lastly, I think Brian Orakpo is going to have a huge season coming off an injury; he is hungry. That begins in this game against the Eagles.
Monday night, RGIII is back, division game, I think the Redskins are going to be prepared for whatever they will see from the Eagles and get a 31-13 victory.