- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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Let's see what's on your minds this week...
Josh in Washington, D.C., asks whether the Washington Redskins' secondary will be better this year once it's fully healthy, and what the team can do without any first-round picks in the next two drafts to improve the secondary long-term.
Dan Graziano: The only injury of significance right now is, I believe, that of safety Brandon Meriweather. And if and when he is able to return, I think he will help. But he doesn't address the main area of concern, which is coverage, because that's not his strength. Meriweather isn't a traditional "center fielder" type at safety. Mike Shanahan brought him in because he believed he would help against the run and that he'd be effective in blitz packages. And when the Redskins have covered well this year, it's been because they were able to draw up creative schemes and looks that helped them overcome their personnel deficiencies in the secondary. But if you're counting on a Meriweather return to help the coverage, that's a shaky bet. As for the offseason, as you point out, Josh, the first-rounders were a worthwhile price to pay for your new quarterback, and I imagine the Redskins think they're going to be able to find helpful secondary pieces in the second and third rounds of the draft. Just look in the division at guys like Brandon Boykin and Jayron Hosley, who have been helpful players to the Eagles and Giants this year and were not first-rounders. They'll have to hit on some mid-round defensive backs, but it can be done.
Jake from the (ahem) Death Star Command Centre is reading the Eagles' bye-week tea leaves and thinks new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles is hinting that the Eagles will blitz more. Jake wants to know why, since they have enough depth of talent on the defensive line to pressure quarterbacks without blitzing.
DG: I don't think they're suddenly going to change philosophies and start blitzing like they did in the Jim Johnson days. Last year they brought in defensive line coach Jim Washburn, who believes in generating pressure with the front four, because that's the way they want to play defense. And that's the way I expect them to continue to play defense. I think the stuff Bowles is saying about being less predictable is more about the ability to make a different call on the fly, as the game situation might dictate. The Eagles have blitzed on a lower percentage of opposing pass plays than any other team in the league since the start of 2011, and they might need to at least add that club to their bag. There's a difference between an opponent thinking you're not going to blitz and an opponent knowing you're not going to blitz. Even when the Eagles have shown pre-snap blitz looks over the past two seasons, there's been little reason for other teams to take them seriously.
David from Arlington, Va., wants to know if I think the much-publicized "cold tub" incident from earlier this season between the New York Giants' Jason Pierre-Paul and Prince Amukamara might have had anything to do with Amukamara's strong play since he joined the starting lineup.
DG: I really don't think so, David. I think the key for Amukamara was merely getting healthy. He missed all of training camp (and, like everyone else, the whole offseason) as a rookie in 2011, and his foot was never 100 percent last year even when he came back. And then he had injuries at the beginning of this year. Remember, this was an incredibly highly touted player coming out of school -- a steal by the Giants when he fell into the second half of the first round. He's supposed to be a really good player, and he's playing like one. I think it really was a matter of getting healthy and getting the chance to show what he could do. I'm not buying the idea that some silly prank sparked something that wasn't already there.
Finally, Phil from Greenwich, Conn., has heard enough this week about how the Giants are 3-0 against the Dallas Cowboys in the new Cowboys Stadium. He'd like it pointed out that the Cowboys are 2-1 against the Giants at MetLife Stadium.
DG: Done, Phil. But I don't think it's going to matter much to folks if the Giants make it 4-0 n Sunday. People like to poke fun at Jerry Jones and laugh at the Cowboys' expense. Building a stadium like that and not being able to win in it gives those people more ammunition. And the one loss by the Cowboy at MetLife was the biggest game these two teams have played against each other in either venue, was it not?
Enjoy the remainder of your Saturday, and I'll chat with you tomorrow from Lincoln Financial Field.