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2011 Regular Season

  • When: Sun. 9/18 1:00 pm ET in Washington

  • Televised: Sun. 9/18 1:00 pm ET (DirecTV Sunday Ticket Channel TBD)

  • Satellite Radio: Sun. 9/18 1:00 pm ETT (SIRIUS Radio - Channel TBD)


Redskins Last Game
Meet the Redskins
Cardinals Roster
Redskins vs. Cardinals Matchups

Both teams are coming off a win. Redskins beat the Giants pulling away from a 14 - 14 halftime tie. Cards came from behind in the 4Q.

Our advice when scoping out the Skins: "Think Denver." (Shanahan's the coach, and he's had a full year and a half under his belt to mold the team more in his iomage. The Skins remind us of us (sort of). Grossman is playing like Kolb. They can run the ball a little (though not spectacularly). Grossman has several targets he can throw to (though not Fitz). Their defense is flying around and making plays. They make plays on special teams.

Grossman is a good game manager who can execute fairly well and
can use the short-pass to sustain long, methodical drives. He had a strong game vs. Giants (His average passing yards per attempt was 14.4% vs. 11.5% for Cam Newton). If their second echelon receivers (like Armstrong and Gaffney) can maintain their high level of play, the Redskin receiving corps (including S. Moss and Donte Stallworth) becomes pretty talented and with decent depth.Their coaches love Hightower who, while no Peterson can give the team consistent yardage on the ground. The Skins are solid at both tackles, but not spectacular inside. Local beat writers are signalling the transition from the Cooley era to the Fred Davis era at TE.

They're making plays. Orapko can bring it, and guys like Carricker and their rookie Kerrigan will make plays. Their OK across the DL, very good at LB and very good at all starting DB positions. But there doesn't seem to be very much depth at any of the three defensive groupings and this can be problematic in the secondary (where you need depth to deal with multiple-receiver sets).

Energetic vs. FG's (Giants missed a chip-shot FG and had another blocked). A bit shaky themselves in the kicking game. Rocca's a fine punter. They've got a young guy returning KO's and punts - we don't know much about him.

 Washington's Last Game:
They beat the Giants 28 - 14. Score was tied at halftime, but Skins added 7 points in each of the 3Q and 4Q while shutting out the Gints in the second half. Giant fans will tell you that major mistakes were the reason they lost. Redskin fans will point to "game-changing plays." Rex Grossman went 21 for 34 and 304 yards, 2 TD's and no picks, but lost a fumble (very similar numbers to Kevin Kolb).  Timmy Hightower picked up 75 yards and a TD. TE Fred Davis (5) and WR Santonio Moss (6) led the team in receptions. Gaffeney and Armstrong caught a TD pass apiece. The final Redskin TD was off a bat-down pick-6 by their rookie DE Kerrigan. Leading tacklers were Doughty (10), Fletcher (8) and McIntosh (7). They had four sacks - 2 by Neild and 1 apiece by Bowen and Carricker.

Quick down & dirty game summary:

First Quarter
The two teams exchanged possessions twice. On the second Giant possession, Manning hit Nicks for +68 yards, and on the next play, Manning scrambled for a 2-yard TD. Giants 7 - Redskins 0.

Skins moved from their own 18 to the Giant 16. Drive stalled and Gano shanked a 39-yarder. The Giants didn't do anything and the next Redskin possession (which started at their own 34) carried over into the next quarter.

Second Quarter
An 18-yard completion to Armstrong set up a one-yard TD run by Hightower. 11-play drive. Giants 7 - Redskins 7.

The two teams exchanged possessions without incident. On the next Giant possession(with 3 of their 8 plays involving passes of over 10 yards), a 14-yard run by Brandon Jacobs set up a Bradshaw 6-yard TD run. Giants 14 - Redskins 7.

Ball on Redskin 20. 2:48 til halftime. +11, +15, +39, +9 moved the ball to the Giant 6 where Grossman hit Armstrong for the game-tying TD with 0:37 left on the clock. Redskins 14 - Giants 14. That was the end of 1H scoring. Haltime Score: Redskins 14 - Giants 14.

Third Quarter
Giants received, and on the 4th play from scrimmage (at their own 18) Kerrigan tipped a Manning pass, caught the deflection and ran it in. Redskins 21 - Giants 14.

Both teams' defenses stiffened, and they exchanged possessions twice apiece to close out the quarter. Third Quarter Score: Redskins 21 - Giants 14

Fourth Quarter
Giants opened up the quarter bottled up on their 2-yard line.They punted, and Skins started from the Giant 42, but Grossman was sacked fumbled away the ball. Giants took over on the Washington 27. Their drive stalled on the Redskin 20 where Tynes' FG attempt was blocked. and recovered by London Fletcher. Skins ball on their own 30. They drained 5:53 off the clock en route to a 10 play drive capped by a 4-yard Grossman to Gaffeney TD pass. Key plays during the drive were a 22-yard completion to Fred Davis and (after a 7-yard completion to Davis) a controversial helmet-led hit on Davis by former Cardinal, Antrel Rolle (who came up to stop Davis who lay untouched on the ground and could have gotten up to gain more yardage). Redskins 28 - Giants 14.

5:04 left. Giants couldn't get much going (Manning took a sack by Bowen) & punted.. Redskins Drained time (& Giant time-outs) from the clock and gave the ball back with 1:06 left. Nada. Game ended on a minus-7 yard sack of Manning by Carricker.

Final Score: Redskins 28 - Giants 14.

Edited-down version of game-evaluation by Washington Post writer, Dan Steinberg:

Best Play: Ryan Kerrigan’s pass rush/deflection/interception/return for a third-quarter touchdown gave the Redskins their first lead, made fans stand up for much of the remainder of the game and showed every clichéd attribute the talking heads have mouthed about Kerrigan for months. Guess he really does have a good motor. And is relentless. And never quits on a play. And just keeps coming. ... Kerrigan was the first Redskins rookie to return an INT for a touchdown since Champ Bailey in October 1999.

Best Play, Part II: Down a touchdown late in the third quarter, the Giants went for it on 4th-and-1 from the Redskins’ 31. They didn’t get it. Former Giant Barry Cofield — who some wondered if was too small to play nose — was all in the middle of the jumbled line that stopped Ahmad Bradshaw.

Best Play, Part III: Brian Orakpo blocking that third-quarter Lawrence Tynes field-goal try was the sort of play that made that little pea-sized nectar of hope in your gall bladder grow by another millimeter or so. Winning teams block field goals. Losing teams run the Swinging Gate on field goals.

Worst Play: Any play involving Reed Doughty in pass coverage.

Worst Play, Part II: The back-to-back sacks of Rex Grossman as the third quarter was winding down cost the Redskins 23 yards and destroyed what could have been a game-clinching drive.

Worst Play, Part III: Bad Rex, Bad Rex, Bad Rex. Getting sacked is one thing, but when Grossman coughed up the ball early in the fourth quarter, the Giants wound up with the ball on the 20-yard line. Those are the classically wretchedly skin-peeling Rex Grossman plays that make you forget all the good stuff. At least until the next Good Rex moment.

Best Quarterback on the Field: For all that, it was Grossman. By a mile. His QB rating was 110.5. Eli Manning’s was 70.8.

Best Leg: My colleague Mike Jones reported that Tim Hightower, fresh off making a 40-yard field goal during pre-game exercises a week ago, drilled a 50-yarder this time around.

Worst Leg: The Redskins’ actual kicker, on the other hand, returned to his inaccurate ways. Graham Gano was one of the least accurate place kickers throughout the 2010 season, and after hitting every kick he attempted in the preseason, he pushed a 39-yarder wide right in the first quarter.

Best Break: The pre-game news that Giants’ defensive end Justin Tuck would be sitting meant the team’s two most prominent defensive linemen were both shelved. Not to be rude, but the offensive line hasn’t always been Washington’s strength, and even without Tuck and Osi Umenyiora, Grossman was sacked four times.

Worst Substitution: And yet the LaRon Landry injury may have been equally significant. The game’s first big play, that 68-yard Eli Manning strike to a thoroughly open Hakeem Nicks, had a lot of Doughty in it. The Giants scored on their next snap. On the Giants’ second touchdown, Doughty missed a tackle. Before the end of the first half, “Reed Doughty” was trending on Twitter, the only Redskins player so honored when I checked.

Best Transition: The Chris Cooley Era may be winding down, but the Fred Davis Era appears to be off to a rollicking start. The fourth-year tight end, whom Michael Lombardi recently described as a “perfect fit” for Mike Shanahan’s offense, caught 5 balls for 105 yards, including a huge catch late in the fourth quarter. It was Davis’s first-career 100-yard day. Cooley had just two catches, and still appeared hobbled.

Worst Start: The Redskins offense came around, but the first two possessions went short run, short run, incompletion, punt, and then incompletion, incompletion, incompletion, punt. Although actually, Eli Manning may have bottomed that by starting 3-for-11 passing, with several balls that seemed intended for these really awesome expanses of FedEx Field grass.

Best Decision: Mike Shanahan going for it all the way on 4th-and-5 early in the second quarter. The offense to that point had as much forward momentum as Reed Doughty running up a greased mountain while wearing a parka. Then Grossman completed a 10-yard pass to Santana Moss, and the Redskins went on to score their first points of the season on a Tim Hightower touchdown run.

Best Stat: Washington was flagged for three penalties, and had just one turnover. Glorious, glorious numbers, representing fair play and justice and all that is right in the universe. Oh, and Rex Grossman was the quarterback.

Worst Stat: Giants had outscored the Redskins, 47-0, in the first quarters of their previous six games. Sunday’s 7-0 first-quarter result makes it 54-0 over seven games.

Best Unheralded Rookie: How about nose tackle Chris Neild (aka “The Pocono Punisher”) — had a sack and a half.

Worst Tackling: The Giants’ second scoring drive went 8 plays and 85 yards, but the final two were the most demoralizing. First Brandon Jacobs trucked his way for 14 yards through the center of the Washington defense. Then Bradshaw scored from six yards out, with Doughty whiffing on that final tackle.

Best Connection: The two prettiest passes from either team may both have been throws from Grossman to Anthony Armstrong. The first went for 18 yards yards, and involved full-out airborne extension from Armstrong. Then Grossman leapfrogged Armstrong’s head in the end zone. The second, late in the second quarter, faded for six yards and an exquisite touchdown in the corner of the end zone. Not bad for a third receiver.

Best Start: For the second straight year, the Redskins opened the season with a home win over a favored NFC East rival. There are worse ways to go into a work week.

 Meet the Redskins

08  Grossman, Rex QB 6-1 225 31 8  Florida
12  Beck, John QB 6-2 215 30 4  Brigham Young

Grossman had a Kolb-like day vs. the Giants. (Admittedly based on just one game) Pro Football Focus (PPF)  ranks Grossman #5 among all QB's overall. (Kolb is ranked #14). He was tied for 2nd in passing efficency rankings (Kolb was #16) despite Kolb having the gaudier NFL QB Rating(130.0 vs. 110.5). Grossman is a good journeyman QB and perhaps underrated (because, at times, he can do more than a journeyman QB is expected to do). But he doesn't do it consistently and you never know whether you're going to get the efficient Rex Grossman or the iffy one).

  Running Backs

25  Hightower, Tim RB 6-0 222 25 4  Richmond

29  Helu, Roy RB 5-11 219 22 R  Nebraska
46  Torain, Ryan RB 6-1 218 25 2  Butler County CC
36  Young, Darrel FB 5-11 246 24 1  Villanova
45  Sellers, Mike FB 6-3 272 36 11  Walla Walla CC WA

Gone are the familiar names like Portis. Former Cardinal Hightower is the new bell-cow. The coaches like him (and Shanahan's system is said to be very friendly to running backs). Hightower ranked #38 overall among #48 QB's evaluated by PFF. He ranks #45 as a runner vs. Beanie's #5 ranking). but ranks #4 as a blocker (vs. Beanie at #43)has been known to be careless with the football and not lights-out when it comes to blitz protection.  Young is rated highly both as a pass and run blocker (tied for 3rd and 4th respectively.

Wide Receivers

89  Moss, Santana WR 5-10 205 32 10  Miami (Fla.)
3  Armstrong, Anthony WR 5-11 185 28 1  West Texas A&M
18  Stallworth, Donte' WR 6-0 220 30 9  Tennessee
16  Banks, Brandon WR 5-7 155 23 1  Kansas State

10  Gaffney, Jabar WR 6-2 200 30 10  Florida
18  Austin, Terrence WR 5-11 175 23 1  UCLA
84  Paul, Niles WR 6-1 224 22 R  Nebraska

85  Hankerson, Leonard WR 6-2 209 22 R  Miami (Fla.)

Based solely on PPF's analysis of one game, Moss ranks #10 among all receivers overall. Gaffney and Armstrong are rated pretty much "middle of the pack." One thing that leaps out at you is overall poor blocking by Redskin receivers (who rank #74, #48 and #89). In the
Giants game, the unsung guys (like Armstrong and Gaffney) outshone the receivers with the gaudier reputations (like Moss and Stallworth). Which suggests that the Cards can't afford to double-down on a featured receiver without risking being torched by one of the other guys.

 Tight Ends
47  Cooley, Chris TE 6-3 255 29 7  Utah State
83  Davis, Fred TE 6-4 258 25 3  USC
82  Paulsen, Logan TE 6-5 268 24 1  UCLA

It was Davis and not Cooley who stole the show this past week vs. the Giants. PPF ranks Davis 4th overall and 3rd as a reveiver among all TE's. The two of them make for a solid TE unit who are huge contributors to the success of the team.

Offensive Line
71  Williams, Trent T 6-5 318 23 1  Oklahoma
75  Locklear, Sean G 6-4 310 30 8  North Carolina State
78  Lichtensteiger, Kory G/C 6-2 292 26 2  Bowling Green State
58  Cook, Erik C/G 6-6 320 24 1  New Mexico
63  Montgomery, Will C/G 6-3 310 28 4  Virginia Tech
66  Chester, Chris G 6-3 315 28 6  Oklahoma
77  Brown, Jammal T 6-6 313 30 6  Oklahoma
69  Smith, Willie OT 6-5 310 24 R  East Carolina

Evaluation :
Good on outside. Unclear how good inside. Williams is their high 1st round draft pick. Brown is the other bookend and a dominant run blocker. Neither was rated that highly by PFF after the last week's game, (they were tied for #38 as run blockers and, in pass pro, Wiliams was ranked #40 and Brown #52).  Both teams' interior linemen graded out higher than expected (Lichtensteiger and Montgomery rated #11, #19 respectively overall and Montgomery ranked #1 in pass pro, but Chester appeared to be the Achilles Heel of this unit - ranking #53 overall and #59 as a run blocker.  I always feared Locklear when he played next to Hutchison on the Seahawks and wouldn't be surprised if he moved ahead of Chester on the Redkin depth chart.. Grossman was sacked 4 times by Giants.


 Defensive Line

94  Carriker, Adam DE 6-6 315 27 4  Nebraska
64  Golston, Kedric DE 6-4 310 28 5  Georgia
96  Cofield, Barry NT 6-4 306 27 6  Northwestern
95  Neild, Chris NT 6-2 319 23 R  West Virginia
72 Bowen, Stephen DE 6-5 306 27 6  Hofstra
93  Scott, Darrion DE 6-3 310 29 5  Ohio State

Evaluation :
Of 30 DE's graded by PFF, Bowen ranked #14 overall but Golston and Carricker ranked #23 and #26 respectively. Bowen did raise his ranking a bit ((#11) in rushing the passer. Cofield graded out #55 out of 83 NT's overall with no redeeming features either rushing the passer or stopping the run.
Carricker was highly regarded with StL but never seemed to quite emerge as a dominant force. Perhaps the change of scenery will help him.  Nield had 2 sacks vs. Giants. Bowen and Carricker had a sack apiece..


91  Kerrigan, Ryan OLB 6-4 267 23 R  Purdue
97  Alexander, Lorenzo LB 6-1 275 28 4  California
55  White, Markus LB 6-3 266 23 R  Florida State

59  Fletcher, London ILB 5-10 245 36 13  St. Francis (PA)
51  Fox, Keyaron LB 6-3 235 29 8  Georgia Tech
52  McIntosh, Rocky ILB 6-2 242 28 5  Miami (Fla.)
56  Riley, Perry LB 6-0 242 23 1  LSU

98  Orakpo, Brian OLB 6-4 260 25 2  Texas
50  Jackson, Rob OLB 6-4 255 25 2  Kansas State

PFF ranked Kerrigan #14 of 26 overall. (They ranked Orapko #18).  Kerrigan moved up in coverage (no doubt due to his bat-down and Pick 6) to rank #3. Solid first unit but a bit thin in depth. Solid inside and out. Kerrigan (who's built like a prototypical Pttsburgh OLB) made a name for himself with the Pick 6 vs. the Gints. His opposite bookend, Orapko, is growing into his own as an elite pass rusher. Fletcher and McIntosh ranked #29 and #30 respectively overall out of 45 ILB's. Both rated considerably higher (#7 and #11 respectively) as pass rushers, but Fletcher tended to excel as a pass rusher and defending the run while McIntosh was stronger in coverage than as a run defender.

23  Hall, DeAngelo CB 5-10 195 27 7  Virginia Tech
22  Barnes, Kevin CB 6-1 190 24 2  Maryland
32  Thompson, Brandyn DB 5-10 188 21 R  Boise State

30  Landry, LaRon SS 6-0 220 26 4  LSU
37  Doughty, Reed S 6-1 210 28 5  Northern Colorado
20  Atogwe, Oshiomogho FS 5-11 205 30 6  Stanford

24  Gomes, DeJon DB 5-11 200 23 R  Nebraska

26  Wilson, Josh DB 5-9 192 26 5  Maryland
34  Westbrook, Byron CB 5-10 201 26 2  Salisbury State

The greatest disparity between the two teams (albeit based on only one game) is at CB. PFF ranks Hall, Wilson and Barnes between #25 and #35 overall of 95 corners (compared to Jefferson, Marshall and Peterson who ranked #56, #76 and #85 respectively). All three Redskin corners rank in the top 12 as pass rushers.
Hall is a game breaker. Landry is due back (to replace Doughty who ranked 77th among 77 safeties overall and near the bottom run of the ladder in most categories). Atogwe ranked #19 overall, #33 in coverage and #10 against the run, but only #74 as a pass rusher. Key to their success may very well hinge on whether or not Landry can play (and for how long).

 Special Teams
04  Gano, Graham K 6-2 200 24 2  Florida State
06  Rocca, Sav P/H 6-5 265 37 5  Lakeside

57  Sundberg, Nick LS 6-0 250 24 1  California
16  Banks, Brandon KR/PRWR 5-7 155 23 1  Kansas State

Rocca can boom 'em. His net punting average last week was 38.5. Skins averaged about 10 yards per punt return and 24 yards per KO.  I don't know much about Banks as a returner. Shanahan-coached squads are usually pretty good on special teams. Gano is not all that reliable.

Coaching Staff
Mike Shanahan Head Coach
Kyle Shanahan Offensive Coordinator
Jim Haslet tDefensive Coordinator
Danny Smith Special Teams Coordinator
New coaching staff marks an end to the John Fox era. Rivera has a defensive background and was highly regarded as a player and equally as highly regarded as a potential coaching talent..

Cardinal Roster

QB - 4 Kolb, 19 Skelton,  02 Bartel
Kolb has more than met his coaches' expectations in the short time he's been a Cardinal. He's picked up most of the offense and looks poised and accurate. We also like his balll handling off play-action - he runs the misdirection waggle and naked boot better than anyone I can remember - even Josh McCown or Jake. Skelton has a world of athletic talent and just needs more work, but his development has been hampered by a high ankle sprain. Surprise of preseason is Bartel (who has proved  extremely accurate and shares Kolb's poise in the pocket. Some concern about Bartel's tendency to lose concentration and make one or two major miscues per game that costs his team points or field position.

RB - 26, Wells,  36 Stephens-Howling  (KR/PR), 29 C Taylor, 46 A. Smith
Hightower has been traded, so the starting job is all Beanie's. He looks more comfortable this season and is running wiith authority more consistently. LSH plays the role of passing-down scatback. Newly acquired Chester Taylor is an experienced receiver and receiver out of the backfield whose running yards production fell off a cliff under Mike Martz's new system a year ago;.

FB - 435 Sherman

A rookie who was good enough to win roster battle over Mau'ia. Main role figures to be as lead blocker, but Kolb and Bartel like to spread the ball around

WR - 17 Stuckey, 85 Doucet , 12 Roberts
WR -11 Fitzgerald, 14 S Williams, 89 Sampson
Cards lost Breaston, but their receiving corps is otherwise back and more talented than ever. Doucet caught 3 vs. Carolina (including one long catch & run for a TD). Stuckey is a FA previously with the Jets. I like  Chanci's route running, hands etc. as a better compliment to Fitzgerald ). Roberts comes into regular season a co-equal with Doucet. WIlliams and Sampson are both tall wide-outs who are still a bit raw, but who figure to be phased in to play specific roles in certain game situations. Fitzgerald (who signed a long term contract) is considered by some to be the best WR in the NFL.

TE - 86 Heap, 87 King,  84 Housler, 81 Dray
Totally revamped position. Heap is one of the best all-around TE's in football. Former Panther King is a blocking specialist (who surprisingly outran everybody en route to a 48-yard TD vs. Panteras). Housler has sub 4.6 speed, great hands and can stretch the field. Cards liked Dray enough to cut Spach and still go with 4 TE's on their Final 53 roste.r

LT- 75 L Brown
, , 73 Bridges
71 Colledge,  
RG- 70 Hadnot (C), 76 Lutui
72 Keith,  74 Batiste
Few changes on the O-Line except for LG where we saw the departure of Alan Faneca and the arrival of former GB starter Colledge. Deuce Lutui arrived in camp overweight and Hadnot is currently ahead of him on the depth chart. Line coach, Russ Grimm is counting on the additional chemistry developed thru keeping most of the personnel on this unit intact, but I'm a bit wary of our continued inability to effectively run block. (So far, at least in preseason, our pass blockers have given Kolb and Bartel plenty of time to execute. But that's preseason; we'll have to see whether they can keep it up).

DE - 93 Campbell, 98 Eason
NT - 92 D Williams, 79 Carter
DT - 90 Dockett, 91 Holliday
When they bring their "A" game, Campbell and Docket are as good a pair of bookends as there are in the NFL. Williams arrrived overweight and is playing himself into shape. Carter and Eason (though lighter) are pushing him at NT. They played well late in the game vs. Carolina. Card pass rushers are doing a better job this season of getting their hands up into passing lanes.

WLB - 55 Porter, 50 Schofield
ILB  51 Lenon, 52 Bradley
ILB- 558 D Washington,
56 Walker,
SLB - 53 Haggans, 94 Acho
Most intriguing Cardinal unit. - full of potential but also questions of whether or not that potential will be filled. Biggest Cardinal concern is their pass rush (which figures to come mostly from their weak side. Questions are: Does the aging Porter still have enough left and will a healthier Schofield be as explosive as he's expected to be? Inside, we have an interesting 3-man starting rotation of Lenon (aka Mr. Solid), a budding star in Daryl Walker and newly added Stewart Bradley (Eagles) who, when healthy, can play at a Pro Bowl level. Acho is a rook. Walker adds ballast inside.

RCB - 21 Peterson, 31 Marshall,   22 Butler
LCB- 20 Jefferson, 27 Adams, 32 Lindsay   
  24 Wilson,
  41 Abdullah,
40 Tillman
FS- 25 Rhodes,  
49 Rash Johnson
Apparently, the blown coverage - attributed to Rhodes on the now infamous Cam Newton highlight reel - may have been due to A. Wilson's not providing coverage over the top ("I got nosy" explains A-Dub). Coming into preseason, the Cardinal secondary actually looked overstocked due to the addition of high-profile draft pick Peterson to play next to DRC. But DRC was traded for Kolb and opposite starting corner (Toler) is injured and out for the season.  DRCe will be replaced by AJ Jefferson (whom I think is almost as athletic as DRC but more physical a tackler and more reliable and aggressive in coverage). Cards brought in veteran Marshall (more of an "off cover guy) to replace Toler until Peterson was ready to step in (& the Cards apparently decided that PP21 is ready, because they just promoted him to start opposite Jefferson). After the Final 53 cutdown, the Cards picked up youngsters Butler and Lindsay to add depth at corner..

K-04 Feely
P- 09 Zastudil

H - 009 Zastudil
82 Leach
KR -
- 21 Peterson
Peterson (& his 89 yard TD return) was the talk of Cardinal Nation after last week's game. Feely's new nickname should be: "Mr. Everything." He accounted for 25 of the Cardinals' 43 points lvs. Denver. Ben Graham was a maestro at dropping punts inside the 10, but inconsistent booming long punts to get us out of poor field position holes. Zastudil (who struggled with injuries the past 2 seasons) beat out Graham and will now be our starting punter. LSH remains a home run threat if they don't kick off far enough, and Peterson has displayed the poise of a veteran (plus the home run potential of Sproles or Hester) returning punts.

 Redskins vs. Cardinals Matchups

Washington Passing Attack vs. Cardinal Pass Defense
Grossman may be up and down, but he is a veteran capable of exploiting his opponents' weaknesses, given the right opportunity. He spread the ball around vs. the Giants - to WR's Moss, Gaffeney and Armstrong; TE's Davis and Cooley and to his RB Hightower. Like the Panthers, the Redkin QB's can be reached with pressure. The main difference is that Grossman is no Newton when it comes to mobility and escaping the pocket. Look for Horton to "bring it" frequently in order to use the pressure to protect his back-end (especially his inexperienced corners, Jefferson and Peterson). While the  Redskins have a multi-pronged receiving arsenal, it is by no means as frightening - at WR, TE and RB - as was the Panthers. One Hightower weakness may continue to be on blitz-pickup. Look for Cardinal LB's and an occasional DB to test this early and often.

I will be looking for signs of improvement from Card corners, with one game's worth of tape for them to learn from. Could be the key to stopping the Skins. Grossman likes to throw screens. Cardinal OLB's and DE's have shown good stay-at-home discipline in Horton's scheme to hold outside contain

Washington Running Attack vs. Cardinal Run Defense
Unlike recent Redskin multi-back run offenses (a year ago, it featured Portis, Larry Johnson and Willie Parker)  it looks like it's going to be "all Hightower" this year. It would be a mistake to compare this year's THT 100% with last year's flavor, because the Shanahan's zone-blocking, one-cut running attack figures to be considerably more effective than the chronically anemic Cardinal running attack. Don't expect Hightower to light up the scoreboard with a bunch of 150+ yard games, but he will consistently get his 75 - 100 and score a TD or 2 per game. He's more of a slasher than a thumper and is good at catching bubble-screens out of the backfield inside the 5 and converting these into TD's.

From what I've seen from 4 preseason and one regular season game. The Cards seem to employ a swarming (but disciplined) approach to containing the ball carrier. They held Panther RB's to under 50 ground yards a week ago. While Dan Williams (when not out of breath) is a load in the middle, the Cardinals aren't afraid to go with lighter NT's (Carter and Eason) and to rely on the pursuit and discipline of their other more mobile players to contain opposing RB's.

Cardinal Passing Attack vs. Washington Pass Defense
Quite possibly, the Redskin "quartet: (of Hall, Wilson, the returning Landry and Atogwe) will be able to contain Fitz, Doucet, one or 2 TE's and Beanie out of the backfield. But what happens when the Cards put pass catchers (either 4 WR's, 3 WR's and a TE or 2 WR's and 2 TE's along with LSH ior Beanie) out in the pattern? Washington's backup DB's are suspect, and Kevin Kolb has seemed super-sharp in locating the open dude and then hitting him in full stride. Look to the second-echelon reserves (like Roberts, S Williams, Stuckey, Heap and LSH matched up against Doughty, Barnes, Thomson, Gomes and Westbrook) to do the most damage

Key to Kolb's success will be pass pro and blitz pickup by the Cardinal O-line, TE's and a RB. He usually doesn't need a lot of time to deliver his 3-step throws. Kolb is also surprisingly adept at waggles and naked boots off play action fakes, but trailing Cardinal receivers must learn to do a better job of getting open and allowing Kevin to turn lemons into lemon-ade.

Cardinal Running Attack vs. Washington Run Defense
Best Cardinal running plays last week were (a) Beanie up the gut behind straight power-blocking and (b) Beanie on tosses getting outside around 3 or 4 blockers sealing the inside. The Redskins held Giant RB's to 73 ground yards last week, but the Giant O-line was a bit beaten-up. Beanie picked up 90 yards on 14 carries vs. Carolina. Cardinal run/pass ratio was close to 50-50. Expect this to continue because  (a) Wiz wants a power running attack to be a growing part of the Cardinal personality, (b) Beanie is beginning to run between the tackles "like he means it" (& with a low pad level) and (c) the very threat of a run-game makes Kolb's play-action passing work.

Special Teams
Redskins are solid in the punting game but suspect in the kicking game and unproven in the return game. But they look tough in coverage (holding the Giants to 10 yds per KO return though a not-so-gaudy 13 yards per PR). They also blocked a FG and the Giant kicker shanked another.

We're still getting used to Zastudil as a replacement for Graham and aren't 100% sold that he'll be as effective dropping the ball inside the ten while still getting hang-time and distance on longer punts. Feely uncharacteristically squibbed a gimme FG attempt, but hopefully it's a one-time deal. Cardinal coverage teams were far from being lights-out vs. Carolina but they did OK. Peterson's 89 yard return puts the exclamation point on the home-run potential of our punt return game when he's in there.

Final Word|
If last week was a any example, turnovers, runbacks and take-aways could very well decide this game. You could say that - along with Kerrigan's Pick-6, big plays by Redskin defensive special teamers were the game-deciders vs. the Giants. Other key factors this Sunday figure to be (a) how quickly our young players (especially the corners) learn and improve from last week's experience) and (b) how quickly our offensive, defensive and ST units continue to learn how  to better play together. It figures to be a close game, with a few key plays deternining the outcome.

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Copyright © 1996 Gollin & Associates. Last modified: 09/16/2011