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Scouting the Opposition: Can Washington Redskins Slow Detroit Lions’ High-Flying Passing Attack?

September 19th, 2013 at 10:38 AM
By Max DeMara

Another week in the NFL, another Detroit Lions' fight against history. This time, Detroit will try to win in a locale they have never tasted victory in, Washington D.C. Including a few playoff losses, the Lions have fallen flat hard in the nation's capital with the latest loss there being a 34-3 embarrassment in 2007.

'Alfred Morris' photo (c) 2012, Keith Allison - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

However, the Lions are 2-0 in their last two meetings with Washington overall, meaning they may have turned over a new leaf in a series which has been very lopsided historically for the Detroiters at 12-27. What do the 2013 edition of the Redskins do well, though? Here's a primer prior to Sunday's next meeting.

Washington's Offensive Difference Maker: Alfred Morris, RB. Robert Griffin III is a major factor, but considering how rusty he's looked in the season, Morris is a player which quietly could make a difference for the Redskins, especially if Nick Fairley remains out. After having a tough opener against Philadelphia scoring a touchdown but fumbling, Morris ran for 107 yards against Green Bay, gaining some footing towards getting back to where he was last year as a 1,613 yard rusher. If Morris gets going, that should open everything else up for Griffin, including the threat of him running. 

Washington's Defensive Difference Maker: Ryan Kerrigan, LB/DE. With three sacks, one forced fumble and two tackles for loss already on the young season, Kerrigan is a fearsome pass rusher and a big play waiting to happen. If Detroit's offensive line isn't up to the challenge, Matthew Stafford could be picking himself up off the turf. A rusher like Kerrigan has the potential to create fumbles, interceptions and plenty of sudden change situations. Detroit must watch for Kerrigan and try to limit his impact on the game.

Washington's Major Problem: Pass defense. Things haven't been pretty in 2013 for the Redskins, who enter the Detroit game with the 23rd rated pass defense in the league. Worse than that, Washington gives up a staggering 10.2 yards per attempt (the highest total in the league), 621 yards and six touchdowns. Those numbers won't help against Calvin Johnson, Reggie Bush and Matthew Stafford, who have the athleticism and capability to carve up bad teams through the air.

Washington's Major Strength: Passing offense. What they may lack in pass defense, the Redskins certainly make up for with a quality passing offense. In the second half of both their losses, Washington has got things going with Griffin passing the ball to the tune of the eighth rated passing attack in the league so far, with 622 yards total, averaging 311 a game. The Lions gave up a few big plays against Minnesota and Arizona through the air, so the backfield needs to be ready for Griffin running the ball and scrambling to find Pierre Garcon and Leonard Hankerson deep. Given the offenses both teams possess, scoring through the air could be what decides this game.

Biggest Intangible: Injured Lions. Detroit's offense could be minus a few key pieces in Reggie Bush and Patrick Edwards in addition to Ryan Broyles. How might this factor in with the offensive game plan? The Lions looked terrible without Bush against the Cardinals on the road, so a second straight futile performance wouldn't be stunning considering recent history.

Max DeMara is the managing editor of Lions 101. You can find him on this site's Twitter @detroitlions101

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Tags: Alfred Morris, Calvin Johnson, Detroit, Detroit Lions, Football, Matthew Stafford, NFL, Pierre Garcon, Reggie Bush, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Kerrigan

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