Ron Rivera has said that, if Kyle Allen is healthy, he will start against the Giants on Sunday. After playing an atrocious game that saw the WFT post negative yardage on offense in the second half, the team needs a “get well game” against the winless Giants.
Of course, New York may have played their best game of the season a week ago against the division leading Dallas Cowboys, and with the Cowboys and Eagles both underdogs this week in non-division games, both New York and Washington players and fans have to see this week as an opportunity to establish themselves in the race to win the division and get to the playoffs.
If the Washington Football Team wants to prevail against a Giants team that appears to be gelling after five straight losses, it will have to focus on a few important keys to the game.
No. 1 - Pressure Daniel Jones relentlessly with a four-man rush
This may sound familiar to anyone who read my “Keys to the Game” article for the Rams last week. I didn’t just copy and paste that article. The Giants are 0-5 and Jones is running for his life, pressured at a higher rate than any other quarterback in the league, per Pro Football Focus. Jones’ fumbling issues have continued thus far, and his pocket awareness remains questionable at times.
This is a quarterback who we need to pressure — probably more than any other the WFT has faced so far this season. Only two players in the league have fumbled more balls than Jones (rookie Joe Burrow and Derek Carr). Of Daniel Jones’ four fumbles, he has lost three of them (behind only Carr who has lost 4). With 5 interceptions thrown, Jones is 4th on the list behind Wentz (9), Cousins (7), and Murray (6).
Per PFF, Jones has completed 69% of his passes this season when not under pressure, but only 47% when pressured, and he hasn’t thrown a touchdown under pressure in the five games he’s played so far. Interestingly, Danny Dimes doesn’t seem to be affected by the blitz, completing about 61% of his passes whether blitzed or not. If the Washington defense wants to bother him, they have to do it while rushing 4 and beating the Giants OL. Jones can be rattled by a pass rush, and the defense can take the ball away and give it to the Washington offense, which is likely to need the help, but they need to do it mostly keeping 7 players in coverage.
No. 2 - Scheme to take away Darius Slayton
Jones looks to Slayton as his primary security blanket, having targeted him 38 times, completing 23 passes for 365 yards. No other wide receiver or tight end in the offense has yet reached 150 receiving yards in 5 games. Slayton should be the main target of the Football Team’s defensive attention after Jones. Taking him away will cause Daniel Jones to go from feeling uncomfortable to feeling downright miserable.
No. 3 - Get better blocking from the Offensive Line - especially LG
It doesn’t matter what plays are called by Scott Turner if the line can’t block effectively, and last week against the Rams, the line couldn’t. There was no bigger offender than LG Wes Martin, who simply got abused throughout the game. It’s probably time to try someone else at that position. Is Saahdiq Charles healthy enough to play?
Brandon Scherff went on IR after injuring a knee in Week 2 against the Cardinals. Reports at the time were that he would likely be out 5 weeks. With a Week 8 bye, he will likely be back for the Week 9 rematch against the Giants, when he can step back in at RG, allowing Schweitzer, perhaps, to take over on the left side. Until then, the WFT has two divisional games to try to win, and the guard depth is pretty ugly.
Keith Ismael, anyone?
Update: It was reported on Wednesday that Brandon Scherff has returned to practice, opening up a 21-day window for his return from IR, which is consistent with the timeline discussed above.
No. 4 - Stay balanced on offense
The Giants rank 8th in total defense (measured by yards per game), but they rank 11th in passing defense and 15th in rushing defense. The key is to attack the Giants consistently and keep the chains moving. Scott Turner needs to be able to run between the tackles, use the quick passing game and play action, with a few downfield throws to keep the Giants honest. The Giants defense isn’t likely to be dominated by Gibson & McKissic’s running or by Kyle Allen’s passing. If the Washington offense is going to succeed, it’s likely to be through good play calling and consistent execution.
On Sunday afternoon in New York, the Washington Football Team begins a stretch of games that offers some hope to the struggling roster. The next several weeks comprise two games against the winless Giants, two games against the currently 2-3 Cowboys, and a game each against the 1-3 Lions and the 1-3-1 Bengals. In theory, every one of those six games is winnable.
To take advantage of the potential opportunity, however, means getting a win this week on the road against the Giants. Of course, Giants fans are saying virtually the same thing. The loser of this week’s contest takes a big step towards fantastic 2021 draft position; the winner stays afloat in the race to win the title in the most inept division in professional football.