1. There's a number of injuries to Washington's starters this week, including NT Barry Cofield and TE Jordan Reed. I know Reed was limited in the passing game, but Cofield is a big part of your run defense. Will Washington be able to make do by shuffling guys around, or is Toby Gerhart in for a big day?
I’m not going to lie, losing Barry Cofield is a pretty big blow to the Redskins defense.
Cofield wasn’t 100% coming into the season after having offseason hernia surgery. He had started 80 straight games, and was a big part of the defensive line. Now starting DE Chris Baker will shift over to NT, and former starter Jarvis Jenkins will replace him at DE. Baker is player the team has developed and has played the position before. A lot of people are high on him, but this affects the rotation along the entire DL, because the Redskins didn’t have another backup NT on the roster. Backup DE Kedric Golston is also nursing an injury.
I’m not sure how Gerhart’s ankle injury will affect him on Sunday, but he will get opportunities to make plays. Against the Texans, Arian Foster had over 50 yards after contact which is not a good look for the defense. I think the Redskins will have a more effective running game Sunday, but the Jags will have openings on the ground. Hopefully they are playing catchup and can’t take advantage.
2. I'm sorry, but I have to ask: Houston? Really? Why did Washington struggle, especially on offense, against the Texans?
The Texans defense has a very good pass rush and were spying Robert Griffin III the entire game. J.J. Watt obviously had a pretty big game, and was constantly hitting and pressuring Griffin. The Redskins were using a lot of short passes all game, but they missed a few opportunities for big plays like the Andre Roberts pass that was ruled out of bounds.
Any game is hard to win when you have a blocked extra point, a blocked punt that is returned for a touchdown, and two fumbles in the red zone. The Redskins had mental breakdowns in every phase of the game which led to the Texans walking away with the game. I was expecting a win there, but I knew it would be a low scoring, defensive game. Unfortunately we turned the ball over more than they did, and that was a big factor in the final score.
3. Alfred Morris was limited last week, getting only 14 carries and zero passes thrown his way. Do you think offensive coordinator Sean McVay will get Morris more involved against the Jaguars, or will it fall largely on Robert Griffin III once again?
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If you ask almost any Redskins fan out there they will tell you that the team needs to run the ball more, and they would have told you the same thing last year too. Alfred Morris and Roy Helu, Jr. were both gashing the Texans defense the entire game. Morris ended up averaging 6.5 YPC, and Helu averaged 11.5 YPC. Their lone scoring drive consisted of 4 runs, with a 1-yard touchdown run from FB Darrel Young capping it off.
When Gruden was pressed after the game he admitted they should have ran the ball more, but he talked a lot about situational football, and passing more in the two-minute offenses.
I hope and expect to see them leaning heavily on the run game against the Jaguars, and using it to set up some bigger passing opportunities. The Redskins offensive line is not set up to pass the majority of the time. Morris continues to impress with his power and vision, and he should be the driving force of the offense for now.
4. Are there any glaring weaknesses on Washington that you think Jacksonville could potentially exploit on Sunday?
The Redskins defense and offensive line are the two areas that I was most worried about going into this season. The safety position has been an issue for years, and it isn’t very improved this year. FS Ryan Clark is a great addition for the leadership he brings, but he also missed several tackles last week. Bacarri Rambo filled in for the suspended Brandon Meriweather last week and was burned on the 76 yard DeAndre Hopkins TD. Former Bronco, and new Redskins safety Duke Ihenacho might get the start on Sunday if he learns the defense and the coaches feel comfortable with him.
Obviously Barry Cofield being out is going to hurt the defensive line’s play too. Brian Orakpo wasn’t 100% last week with an ankle injury, so he should be more active this week. Also look for ILB Keenan Robinson and OLB Ryan Kerrigan to make plays all game. The defense was probably the strongest unit last week, but the lack of pass rush and coverage lapses can be taken advantage of if they continue this week.
5. Washington's offensive line looked subpar against the Texans. What do you think they'll do differently against a Jaguars defensive line that put up five sacks in the first half alone last week?
I doubt they will do anything differently which is a huge problem for this team. You would expect them to have a better plan to deal with a pass rusher like J.J. Watt to at least slow him down by double teaming him, but that’s easier said than done. Watt ended up with 1 sack, 5 QB hits, and 4 QB hurries Sunday. I don’t expect any personnel changes on the line, and there haven’t been any reported injuries, so the Jaguars can look at what the Texans were able to do against them and smile.
The Redskins have 4 of the same starters they had from last year, only adding Shawn Lauvao at LG and shifting LG Kory Lichtensteiger over to center. Gruden is at least a year away from having the kind of OL he wants to run his kind of offense. Everyone to the right of Trent Williams has been dubbed Tyler and the Turnstiles by the fans for the last few years, and it looks like they’re back for an encore this season. They drafted OT Morgan Moses and OG Spencer Long in the third round this year, and everyone is hoping they develop quickly to replace some of the overpaid and underperforming veterans on the line.
The Redskins need to run the ball effectively and consistently to play to their strengths, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a designed run or two from RGIII this week. The Texans spied him all game, which will probably be a running theme this year, so they need to take advantage of that. Losing Jordan Reed hurts their options over the middle, so someone’s got to step up to be Griffin’s safety net.
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