Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins take their high octane show to the Meadowlands today, to face the 4-2 New York Giants. With a win, the Skins would take over first place in the NFC East and have a chance to be above .500 at the midway point. To find out more about the opponent, we reached out to the guys at Giants101.com.
Ahmad Bradshaw set career high totals in carries over the last two weeks, with 57 combined. He's been limited in practice since his foot issues resurfaced. Are the two correlated? And what do you expect out of him this week?
Ahmad Bradshaw hadn't run for more than 17 times in a game this year; in fact, he only had 35 total carries on the year before taking it 30 times in Week 5 and 27 in Week 6. He says he got stepped on and that it's not the workload itself that has him "sore," but it's hard to imagine any running back getting that many carries in a two game span (especially after not getting that many carries in a two game period IN HIS ENTIRE CAREER!) and not aggravating the kind of chronic, it's-never-going-away-but-we're-managing-it injuries that Bradshaw has to his feet. Lots of folks were left scratching their head when Bradshaw was piling up the carries in what had long become a blowout game in San Francisco.
But while Bradshaw fantasy owners around the country are probably a bit worried, sitting out practices to rest his feet is par for the course for Bradshaw. He's gone almost season-long stretches playing on Sundays after practicing once or not at all during the week. We wouldn't expect him to see anywhere near that amount of snaps this week, however, given that his feet are acting up and backup Andre Brown has been cleared to return from a concussion. The balance of carries will really depend on how Bradshaw feels Sunday morning.
**Also keep an eye out for David Wilson, the rookie first-round pick. He's been returning kicks and doing a heck of a job. Lots of Giants fans think it's only a matter of time before he takes a kickoff to the house, and it's hard to deny the feeling because hes' come pretty darn close on a few already. He hasn't gotten much of an opportunity out of the backfield after an opening day fumble, but they put him in for a few misdirection plays and in garbage time, and he's flashed the same explosiveness he's got on kickoffs. This kid is a home run threat.
Eli Manning has proven himself to be among the elites in the NFL, yet he's struggled against the Redskins in the Shanahan Era (one touchdown, six picks). Why do you think that is? Will he turn it around or might it continue?
It would take a far better football mind than mine to understand why Shanahan seems to have Eli's number. And it's not the only time we've seen it; most Giants fans have nightmares about Darren Sharper. We hate to sound cocky, but we've just seen too much good football from Eli Manning the last year and a half to not think he turns it around on Sunday. The 'Skins secondary, on paper, is worst in the league with 328 yards allowed per game, and Shanahan would have to have some kind of trick up his sleeve to shut down Eli, Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz…especially without Adam Carriker and Brian Orakpo, who really gave us fits.
The Giants have faced two mobile quarterbacks already, in Cam Newton and Michael Vick. They beat Cam but lost to Vick. What were their strengths and weakness against the two?
Cam Newtown didn't have a lot of success on the ground, gaining six yards on six attempts. Michael Vick, on the other hand, tucked and ran eight times for 49 yards. The big difference is that while Newtown was running out of heavy formations, including wildcat-esque fake handoffs and option plays, which are wont to draw a crowd and just didn't work for the Panthers that day, Vick was running on pass plays that had broken down (or, hadn't broken down, but Vick just decided to run).
The Giants have had trouble setting the edge this year against mobile quarterbacks, even ones with good-but-not-great wheels like Tony Romo (who played games with Osi Umenyiora on the left side). Without good pocket containment, the Giants stood no chance against a blazer like Vick so long as his receivers kept the back-seven honest. The Giants moved Mathias Kiwanuka back down to the defensive line in San Francisco, and it seemed to help a bit, but if RG3 can break containment he can really get his running in on this Giants defense. Especially if he forces the secondary to take him and his receivers seriously.
The New York linebacking corps has been suspect in recent years. This week they will be without Jacquian Williams, arguably their most athletic backer. Who steps up or surprises us from this group?
Williams may be the best athlete of the bunch at this point but he's far from the best linebacker and his playing time has been limited to mostly nickel defenses. He probably had an opportunity for more reps if Kiwanuka is going to play with his hand in the ground as he did last week, but those of us who watched the Giants in preseason are waiting to see what Keith Rivers can do when unleashed. He was making a case for being the best linebacker on the team until a nagging hamstring issue put him in street clothes. The Giants should continue working him into the flow of things in his second game back. If he's on the field, keep an eye on 55.
Additionally, the Giants got kind of rotational last week with Kiwanuka on the line and Rivers not on the field much if at all. Adrian Tracy, technically a defensive end, took some reps from the linebacker position but mostly as a pass rusher, while Spencer Paysinger, a special teams standout, saw some time in short-yardage situations. This situation is totally fluid.
The Giants win if…
The Giants win if they get the game in the offense's hands in the fourth quarter. We see a pretty high scoring affair and have to believe that Manning, arguably the best 4th quarter quarterback in the game, can get the job done against the league's worst pass defense. But in both the losses to the Dallas and Philadelphia, we watched the Giants defense have lots of trouble getting off the field in the 4th quarter. DeMarco Murray went crazy on us and both Vick and LeSean McCoy took turns moving the chains. If RG3 and Alfred Morris can dictate some long, tough scoring drives against a gassed defense at the end of a hard fought game, it would be a loss to a division rival that looked just like our other two losses to division rivals.
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