Questioning The Competition
Sitting Down With The Enemy – Washington Redskins Edition
I was fortunate to talk to Rich Tandler of RealRedskins.com this week for a extremely fun Q and A session. Please see the questions I asked him followed by his great answers.
1. The Redskins are ranked 27th in run defense. How do you see them containing one of the best running backs in Adrian Peterson this Sunday?
The same way that they did Chris Johnson last Sunday in Tennessee. Although he gained 130 yards, he didn’t tear off any of his patented long scoring runs. In fact, the Titans didn’t score an offensive touchdown. Washington has been playing bend but don’t break defense all season long, both against the run and the pass.
And, although Peterson seems to have cut down on his propensity to fumble considerably this year, the Redskins have been among the best in the league in stripping the ball out. The Redskins will try to get Peterson to put the ball on the FedEx Field turf once or twice. AP won’t be quite as effective if he thinks he needs to have eyes in the back of his head.
2. Sidney Rice made his first appearance this season and was able to grab three balls for 57 yards. (Not bad given the game Favre had) With one game under his belt do you see him being a big enough threat to the Redskins defense to warrant double coverage?
While I doubt that they will go into the game with a plan to double him, they could adjust if he’s hurting them as the game goes on. The Redskins’ secondary is racked with injury problems and covering anyone, Rice, Percy Harvin, Visanthe Shaincoe, will be a challenge. Strong safety LaRon Landry, who is the Redskins’ best defensive player, is virtually certain to miss the game with an Achilles injury and Carlos Rogers, their best cover corner, is 50-50 at best with a hamstring that may or may not be ready by Sunday. So if Bret Favre is reasonably sharp, he could find a number of open targets on Sunday.
3. No doubt the Vikings defense has underperformed compared to past seasons, however this defense isn’t one to take lightly. What is the key to succeeding against the Vikings defense?
The strength of the Redskins’ offense has been the passing game, and that seems to be the weaker part of the Vikings defense so I see Donovan McNabb airing it out. He threw 50 passes against Tennessee and there was never more than a one-score difference between the teams. So, I’d look for McNabb to locate rookie CB Chris Cook, hope that left tackle Trent Williams can keep Jared Allen from being a factor, and throw, throw, throw.
Certainly, they will run to keep the Viking honest. Due to injuries to Clinton Portis (just went on season-ending injured reserve with abdominal tear) and Ryan Torain (hamstring), rookie free agent Keiland Williams will start at running back and carry the load. James Davis, who was just activated off of the practice squad, will back him up. The O-line has struggled in the run game and they also are dealing with injury issues. Again, most running will be just to keep the Vikings off balance; the offense will move the ball (or not) through the air.
4. With Brad Childress finally being fired (yay!) and Leslie Frazier being appointed interim head coach. Any fear that this Vikings team could come out firing on all cylinders like the Cowboys did these past two weeks? Also, how does this change of coach effect the game plan for this weekend’s game?
The last time the Redskins faced an interim head coach making his debut was in 2008. Jim Haslett, now the defensive coordinator, came in just having taken over the winless Rams and they walked out of FedEx Field with the win. So, the Redskins certainly know the danger of facing a team that is stepping up the effort for a new coach.
Certainly, there has to be some concern when making the game plan. You have to figure that the new guy is going to make some changes from the way the guy who just got fired did things, right? The problem is, you don’t know what he’s going to change. That makes it very difficult to prepare for.
5. What two Vikings players (one offense, one defense or special teamer) do the Redskins have to game plan around? What precautions do you believe they will need to make to ensure they don’t ruin any chance of a Redskins victory?
Percy Harvin is the kind of versatile performer that could give the Redskins fits. After having a horrible year at it last year, the Redskins have been pretty good tackling this year. One mistake on that guy, though, whether it’s on a kickoff return or one of those quick screens, it will be a quick six points for Minnesota.
On the Vikings defense, I still worry about Jared Allen. Although is supposedly having an “off” year, he has 6.5 sacks and that means you have to pay special attention to him, especially if you’re going to throw a lot. If Trent Williams can contain him one on one that will free up tight end Chris Cooley, the team’s second-leading receiver, to go out into patterns. The offense will be hampered if Allen needs to be doubled.
Thanks again Rich for the great opportunity to exchange opinions and theories on this weekends game. I hope for it to be an exciting game with no injuries suffered by either team.