- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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We all know by now that the Washington Redskins beat the New York Giants twice last season, and that they were Eli Manning's two worst games of the season. The Giants' Super Bowl MVP quarterback threw four interceptions and no touchdowns against Washington last season, and the Redskins don't think it was a fluke. Per the legendary John Keim:
In the second meeting last season, the Giants' first drive showed what the Redskins want to do. The Redskins played both safeties within six yards of the line of scrimmage. They then dropped to cover deep halves. Perhaps because of this look, Manning held the ball for 4.9 seconds before throwing an incomplete pass. On the next play, the Redskins showed a cover-6 look. Manning looked downfield, stepped up and threw the ball away.
"We're trying to make his first read not a quick one," Redskins safety Reed Doughty said.
Said cornerback DeAngelo Hall: "We feel we match up well against them. We think we can do things to confuse Eli."
John also writes in that piece about the manner in which the Redskins successfully pressured Manning in those games, and that the basic idea is to constantly be changing looks so Manning cannot get comfortable in the pocket and choose from a variety of very good options, the way he can against standard Cover-2 shells and defenses like that:
"When we've been successful, it's because we're not allowing big step-up lanes, getting some sacks, showing different looks," Doughty said. "You can't just sit in a look all day and let him throw the ball."
Now, there are a number of reasons these things might not be as easy for the Redskins this season as they were last season against the Giants. First, they are without a number of key players on defense, including their best pass-rusher, Brian Orakpo, and starting defensive end Adam Carriker. Their secondary seems to be worse, personnel-wise, than it was last season, and they've been sacrificing pass rush as they've dropped linebackers and sometimes even linemen into coverage to help out. And against the Giants last season, defenses didn't have to respect the run game. But behind offensive line improvements and some tough, determined running by Ahmad Bradshaw, the Giants' run game is blossoming this season.
So the Redskins likely have a tougher task in front of them in terms of stopping Manning and the Giants than they did last season. But the Giants also have a tougher task stopping Robert Griffin III than they did with Rex Grossman. And on the defensive side of the ball, what might be most important is that the Redskins' players aren't scared of Manning and believe they know what it takes to beat him. Doesn't mean they will, but a lack of intimidation can only work in the visiting team's favor.