Redskins game day: Ten thoughts

September, 15, 2013
9/15/13
8:34
AM ET
1. One of the game films Washington watched a lot of this past week, according to linebacker Brian Orakpo, was Seattle’s 14-12 win over Green Bay last season. Seattle slowed Aaron Rodgers and the Packers’ offense by playing a lot of Cover 3 and kept the receivers on the outside. They didn’t always jam the receivers, but they would on occasion in an attempt to disrupt the timing (you can’t let Randall Cobb get many free releases). They also got to Rodgers with eight first-half sacks in that win. The tough part, of course, is trying to do what Seattle did without having the same sort of defense; the Seahawks have one of the NFL’s top secondaries and paired that with a good rush. Both helped the other. The Seahawks did rush extra defenders on occasion, but also used their speed up front with a lot of stunts and movement.

2. The Redskins need to hope running back Eddie Lacy has a quiet day. Lacy could become a big factor in the offense because of the attention paid to the passing attack. He could eventually give them three dangerous elements: two 1,000-yard receivers and a 1,000-yard back. He’s not at that point yet, however.

3. The Redskins want to pressure with four against a passing game such as Green Bay’s because of the help they can then provide the secondary. But a week ago, Rodgers completed 20 of 30 passes with three touchdowns, averaging 11.0 yards per attempt against a four-man rush or fewer, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Against a five-man rush or more, Rodgers completed 1 of 6 passes and was picked off once. Yes, it’s a small sample size but this speaks to the need to make Rodgers uncomfortable.

[+] EnlargeAaron Rodgers
Jose Luis Villegas/Sacramento Bee/MCT via Getty ImagesPressuring Aaron Rodgers is going to be important for the Washington defense.
4. At least a few Redskins knew they were in trouble against the Philadelphia Eagles just based on the way they practiced. When Alfred Morris fumbled twice in the first quarter, one player said he wasn’t surprised. Not because Morris had a bad week, but because the entire offense did. This past week? Filled with good practices, apparently. We’ll see what that means.

5. Yes, Green Bay stopped San Francisco’s rushing attack last week, but what does that mean for this week? The 49ers are built more for a power inside rushing attack. Washington’s run game features more outside zones. And the Packers have a bigger front line, with two of their starting three linemen weighing at least 337 pounds. In comparison, all three of the Redskins’ starting linemen weigh less than 320. The Redskins no doubt will test the Packers’ ability to move laterally and try to wear them out. The tricky part is dealing with their outside linebackers; it can be tough to get wide against a 3-4 front. The Packers do play pretty disciplined, which could negate some zone read attempts as well.

6. Nose tackle Barry Cofield will continue playing with his hand in a club. It did not affect him as much when trying to make a move on a lineman, but it did impact his ability to reach out and grab a ball carrier. Cofield said he received some funny feedback afterward because of his club. “People said they thought the ball was on the ground every time they saw me on the ground. It was funny. I think I’ll stick with the burgundy. Maybe it will throw off the receivers when I put my hand out they’ll think the ball is deflected.”

7. Another Cofield gem on strong safety Brandon Meriweather, expected to start Sunday: “That game last year is like he had a start like Mario Brothers. He was in turbo speed and we were regular people. If he can give us half that it would be great. He’s going to be hungry. If he can be out there and be healthy, then I think he’ll make us a better defense.”

8. And, finally, one more from Cofield. This time on Rodgers and what sets him apart from other quarterbacks. “It’s almost like he’s not a runner but he’s athletic and he has that same pocket presence like Tom Brady or [Peyton] Manning. Just that cool like he might as well be throwing it to a receiver in the back yard. You look at the mechanics or pocket presence and it doesn’t look like he panics whatsoever. But when the pocket does collapse, he can get yards with his legs or get out of the pocket and make throws on the run that normal people can’t make.”

9. Rodgers makes life difficult. As Orakpo said, “You could have a killer move and it’s ineffective because the ball is already gone so we’ve got to make sure our secondary and everybody else in the back end gives us an extra second or two to make them hold it longer.” Hence the reason for disrupting the timing of the receivers.

10. Did not know this until a few days ago, but Morris’ dad is a Packers fan. Has been for a while apparently -- and Morris has no idea why. It’s just always been that way. And, yes, his dad still roots for Green Bay -- and will be making his first trip to Lambeau Field Sunday. There won’t be conflicted feelings Sunday: “He always roots for us,” Morris said.

John Keim

ESPN Washington Redskins reporter

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