What a difference a week makes.
After basking in a glorious win against a the New Orleans Saints, the Redskins faithful now is slapped with the reality of losing not only to the St. Louis Rams, but also losing Brian orakpo and Adam Carriker for the season. Two extremes in two weeks. I think any sort of return to normalcy would be welcome this week, but in case it doesn’t come, here are some storylines to keep in mind in case disaster strikes again.
Dinks and Dunks
These were the two words that doomed the Redskins last week as a result of a zone coverage-based game plan. Danny Amendola ran rampant and the west-coast attack of the Bengals could potentially have the same effect with Andrew Hawkins proving capable in handling the underneath routes.
Andy Dalton is one of the most cerebral quarterback prospects I have seen in a very long time, and would love to pick apart another zone-heavy Redskins defense. Dalton’s shortcomings are in terms of his athleticism and arm strength and those could really be put to the test if the Redskins coverage forces him to throw into more tight windows than Sam Bradford had to.
Of course, a huge part of testing Dalton will rely on pressure, which brings me to my next point:
The impact of losing Brian Orakpo for the season cannot be understated. The secondary is already a patchwork group of players who need as much help from the front seven they can get, and they will truly be tested in their first full game without one of their leaders. I’m fully confident that if A.J. Green is given enough time to get deep, he can and will gash the Redskins safeties for massive gains.
It appears that Mike Shanahan will play a rotation of Chris Wilson and Rob Jackson in place of Orakpo and ride the hot hand—or whatever the linebacker equivalent to that is—for as long as he produces. That said, there will be a lot of pressure on them to get in the backfield, and the task won’t be easy against Andrew Whitworth, easily one of the game’s best left tackles. Hopefully the pressure on Andy Dalton will outweigh the amount of pressure on top of the reserve pass-rushers by game’s end. Here’s to hoping.
Carlos Dunlap v. Trent Williams
I appreciate trench battles and they’re always worth a long study, but I’ve found that few matchups ever really get me excited. This one gets me excited.
Trent Williams picked up right where he left off before his suspension last season and has really found another level in his third year. Robert Quinn gave Williams a real test last week and recorded a sack, but Williams still got the better of him more often than not. Carlos Dunlap lined up across from him on Sunday should provide an even tougher battle for the former first-round pick. Injuries and durability have always been Dunlap’s biggest concern, but it appears that the plan is for him to graduate from a situational pass-rusher to an expanded role. If his pass-rushing efficiency from a situational role translates to full-time as well, then it could be a very, very long day even for someone as talented as Williams.
Running the Rock
Pierre Garcon’s status is uncertain, and Fred Davis is returning from taking a brutal hit from Janoris Jenkins. As a result, I can’t say that the running game needs to step up while the receiving game gets up to speed because—well—the running game already has been stepping up.
The Bengals are allowing 5.5 yards per carry so far this season, and much of that has to do with not stacking the box very often. Simply put, they can't afford to. Their secondary has just as many problems as the Redskins right now (if not more) and are reliant on generating pressure and not getting beaten deep. They will have to respect Robert Griffin III’s ability to stretch the field now that Leonard Hankerson and Aldrick Robinson have proven capable of getting separation at the next level. However, as for catching the deep ball, well, Robinson needs a bit of work in that department.
The point is, there could be plenty of room for Morris to run on Sunday. He already showed a big improvement from Week 1 in terms of patience and ran with more burst and fury. Kory Lichtensteiger and Will Montgomery had great games versus the Rams themselves, and if that momentum carries over then RG3 may not monopolize the headlines on Monday morning.