Setting the Stage:
Cards were dismembered by Denver 41 - 20 Sunday. Washington lost to the Seahawks 27 - 17 on Monday night despite being handed gifts in the form of 13 Seattle yellow flags. Washington is now 1 & 4. Cards are 3 &1. Cards have been derailed by a parade of injuries; most notable ones being to QB Drew Stanton, Ed Shaughnessy and Calais Campbell. Cards have the advantage of one day of midweek prep time since Wash played Monday night. Lack of "seriousness" after the loss to Seattle was played up big by Washington media but dismissed as "minor" by Ryan Clark and other Washington players.
Opponents' Last Game:
Washington lost to the Seahawks 27 - 17 on a MNF prime timer. It was basically the Russell Wilson and Percy Harvin Show which could have turned into a total route had 3 Seattle TD's not been nullfied by penalties. Kirk Cousins continued to be the starter at QB.
Seattle returned the opening KO to its own 35. Six plays later, Wilson hit Kearse short-left for a 15-yard TD. Other key plays - a 16-yard scramble by Wilson and a 29-yard completion to Kerrigan. . Seahawks 7 -Washington 0.
Touchback on the KO. Wash held onto the ball for 10 plays (plus two others nullified by Seattle penalties) but had to punt. Touchback. Seahawks moved to their own 45, but Wilson fumbled a direct-snap forcing them to punt from midfield. Fair caught by Wash at their own 19 where they were held to 3 & out. Punt was returned to the Seattle 43. A penalty and a minus-7 yard sack moved Settle back to their own39 to end the quarter.
First Quarter Score: Seahawks 7 - Washington 0.
Seattle punted on the first play of the quarter. Touchback and penalty pinned Washington back on their 10-yard line, where they went 3 & out. Punt was out of bounds at the Seahawk 47. A 20-yard completion to Baldwin and 13-yarder to Harvin helped set up a 16-yard run by Harvin that was nullfified by a holding penalty. Drive finally stalled at the Washington 22 where Hauschka was good from 40-yards. . Seahawks 10 - Washington 0.
TB on the KO. Three & Outsville. Punt was returned to the Seattle 30. A 36-yard completion to Helfet set up a 9-yard Wilson TD run around left end. Seahawks 17 - Washington 0.
TB on the KO. On the fifth play of the Washington possession, Cousins hit Desean Jackson deep for 60 yards and a TD. Seahawks 17 - Washington 7.
KO was returned to the Seattle 29. 2:32 left till halftime. A sack by Meriweather helped Washington force Seattle to go 3 & out. Punt was fair caught at the Washington 19. The two teams exchanged short possessions to end the half.
First Half Score: Seahawks 17 - Washington 7.
Washington received. TB on the KO. On the first play from scrimmage, Cousins hit Jackson deep-left for 57-yards. But they got no farther than the Seattle 9 and had to settle for a 27-yard Forbath FG. (we got ourselves a 7-point ballgame). Seahawks 17 - Washington 10.
The two teams exchanged 3 & outs and 2 more short-possessions each, that carried over into the next quarter.
Third Quarter Score: Seahawks 17 - Washington 10.
Washington (who had been pinned back deep in their own territory for three straight possessions) punted from their own 13. Seattle returned it to their own 47. A 41-yard TD pass to Harvin (deep-middle) was nullified by a roughness penalty.But Wilson finished engineering what turned out to be a 12-play drive capped by a 9-yard TD pass (short right) to Lynch. . Seahawks 24 - Washington 10.
TB on the KO. (6:31 left). Cousins engineered an 11 play (2:56) touchdown drive ending in a 6-yard TD pass (short left) to former Cardinal Andre Roberts. Other key plays: Completions of +20 and +22 yards to Helu. (Once again, a 1 TD football game). Seahawks 24 - Washington 17.
3:35 left. TB on the KO. A face-maskpenalty on J Jenkins turned a 9-yard Lynch run into a 24-yard pickup. On the 4th play from scrimmage - ball at midfield - Maarshawn Lynch turned a short pass from Wilson into a 30-yard gain. But three plays later, Wilson was sacked by Kearse (for minus-8) forcing Hauschka to attempt a 43-yard FG which was good, opening up a 10-point lead with 0:21 left on the clock. Seahawks 27 - Washington 17
KiO returned to the Washington 35. Wash ran out of time one play later.
Final Score: Seahawks 24 - Washington 10
What the Game Stats Tell Us
Another one of those games where an excessive number of penalties kept Seattle away from dominating win.
Cousins completed 21 of 36 passes for 283 yards and 2 TD's while throwing no interceptions. He was sacked once.
Washington gained 32-yards on the ground (on 17 carries - including 2 carries by Cousins). Morris gained 29-yards on 13 carries.
Jackson had a big day, grabbing 5 passes for 157-yards (including a couple for +60-yards). Helu (+59) and Roberts (+29) had 5 catches apiece.
Neither team lost a fumble or interception.
Riley led Washington with 10 tackles followed by Orapko and Robinson with 8 apiece and Meriweather with 7.
Meriweather, Kerrigan and Kearse were each credited with sacks.
Wash picked up 14 first downs (12 thru the air/one on the ground).
Wash offense netted 307 net yards. Net yards passing: 275.
Seahawks were flagged 13 times for 90 yards. (Wash was penalized 3 times for 30 yards).
Neither team had a turnover edge (since none had a turnover).
Washington Rushing Plays: 17/Passing Plays: 37.
Seattle returned 8 punts and kickoffs for 81 yards. Washington returned one punt/KO for minus-5 yards.
Time of Possession: Washington 25:04/Seattle 34:56
Statistically, Washington outperforms its competitors in Total Offensive Yards, Passing Yards, Sacks and Rushing TD's. However, its Turnover Ratio is minus-5. It has a fairly balanced Run/Pass Ratio (127 to 123). The anecdotal book on Washington is that their corners are really bad, the defense gives up too many big plays, they've underperformed on 3rd downs and in the red zone, their special teams consistently puts them at a field-position disadvantage and they've given up 9 turnovers. On the plus side is (a) offensive yardage and (b) Kerrigan's 6 sacks (which tie him for first in the NFL).
WR1 88 Garcon.............89 S Moss 15 A Robinson
LT 71 T Williams........76 Moses
LG 77 Lauvao.............67 LeRibeus
C 78 Lichtensteiger
RG 66 Chester.............60 Long
RT 74 Polumbus.........68 Compton
TE 86 Reed.................82 Paulson....84 Paul
11 D Jackson.........12 Roberts....14 Grant
QB 08 Cousins............16 McCoy......10 RG-3
FB 36 Young
46 Morris...............29 Helu..........32 Redd
DE 95 Kelly...........96 K,Martin
NT 92 D. Williams 66 Ta'amu
DT 98 Rucker 72 Stinson
SLB 57 Okafor........53 Keiser
ILB 50 Foote..........54 Demens
ILB 51 Minter..........97 Alexander 56 Carson
WLB 94 Acho...........59 Benard
LCB 21 Peterson.....28 Bethel
RCB 31 Cromartie....25 Powers
SS 22 Jefferson.....36 Bucannon
FS 32 Mathieu.......26 R. Johnson
Matchup: Washington Passing Attack vs. Cardinal Pass Defense
Cousins completed 61.3% of his passes for 1,127 yards (8.1 per attempt). His TD to Pick Ratio is 8 to 5. He's been sacked 5 times. Jackson represents one of the most potent deep receiving threats in the NFL, averaging 18.2 ypr, but Garcon leads all Wash receivers with 22 catches, followed by Paul with 22 and Jackson with 20. Former Cardinal Roberts is fourth most prolific receiver with 15 (tying him with RB Helu). Their FB (Young has a couple of TD's to his credit, tie-ing him with Jackson and Roberts and one behind Morris).
The Cardinals are missing their best defensive end in Campbell and their starting OLB Shaughnessy is lost for the season. They will have to rely on a rotation-based D-line and replacement-laden linebacking crew. Even before this past week's injuries, the Cardinals lacked a pass-rush off the edge. It is hoped a return to health of Okafor will provide a bit more pass rush pop.
The Cardinal secondary was abused last week by Peyton Manning and his receivers (who ran away from Cardinal DB's on slant routes). No doubt, Washington's coaches will watch the game film and will continue to test Cardinal DB's with slant. (Hopefully, Peterson and Cromartie will have better luck coping with a QB who isn't Manning and receivers who aren't Thomas or Welker). But it won't be enough to plug the visible leaks in the Cardinal pass defense - In Desean Jackson, Washington has one of the most explosive receivers in the NFL, and we'll probably have to double him. They have other capable receiving threats in Garcon, Roberts, their TE (Reed who's coming off a hammy) and Helu out of the backfield; however, Cousins-to-these guys doesn't appear to be quite as threatening as Manning-to-Welker & the Thomases.
Key Matchups: Peterson (& probably a second guy) vs. D. Jackson.
Matchup: Washington Rushing Attack vs. Cardinal Run Defense
Cards lost their best run-stopper when Shaughnessy was placed on IR. The hope is that guys like Stinson, K-Mart, Gaston and a healthier Ta'amu) will pick up the slack. Morris is averaging 4.1 ypc and has 3 rushing TD's to his credit, but last week, Washington could only gain 32 rushing yards (against a Seattle defense known for its run-stopping ability). Gruden has no option but to get his running game back on track. Look for Washington to test the banged-up Cardinal run defense.
Key Matchup: Morris vs. Cardinal LB's. Washington OL vs. Cardinal D-Line.
WR1 11 Fitzgerald....19 Ginn...............13 John Brown
LT 68 Veldheer......79 Sowell
LG 62 Larsen..., ....61 Cooper
C 63 Sendlein......62 Larsen
RG 74 Fanaika.......78 Watford
RT 70 Massie........79 Sowell
TE 87 Niklas..........85 Fells
WR2 15 M. Floyd.....13 Jaron Brown
QB 03 Palmer........05 Stanton.........06 Thomas
RB 38 Ellington.....30 Taylor.............39 Hughes....34 Parmele
TE 89 Carlson.......84 Housler
LDE 99 Jenkins...........64 Golston....94 Geathers
NT 92 Baker
RDE 97 Hatcher .........73 Kearse
LOLB 91 Kerrigan.........93 Murphy
MLB 52 K Robinson....51 Compton...54 Jordan
JLB.....56 Riley.................55 Hayward
ROLB 98 Orapko
LCB 26 Breeland.........30 Biggers.....20 Minnifield
RCB....39 Amerson.........22 Porter........38 Crawford...xx Ducre
SS 31 Meriweather....34 T Robinson
FS 25 R Clark............24 Sanford....47 A Davis
Matchup: Cardinal Passing Attack vs. Washington Pass Defense
Hard to figure. If both Palmer and Stanton remain "down" on Sunday, it will be rookie, Logan Thomas again, and we'll have to hope a full week of reps will add enough to his knowledge-bank to enable him to complete more than 1 of 8 passes. He and his OL will face the same kind of challenge in the Washington pass rush as they did last Sunday when they were eaten alive by guys like Von Miller and Andre Ware. This week they go up against "Brian and Ryan: (Orapko and league-leading sackman, Kerrigan).
Receivers-to-DB's matchups figure to be a bit weird this week, because we don't know who'll be our QB. Stanton and Palmer are logically better than Thomas at making quicker reads, sidestepping pressure and getting rid of the ball faster. They'd figure to be deadly throwing to Fitz, Floyd and Jon Brown going against corners named Breeland and Amerson and a banged-up Tracy Porter. But - as we saw in Denver - it's much harder for a rookie like Thomas to deliver passes accurately and on-time while at the same time he's running for his life. Look for the Cards to try to diffuse sack-happy Washington pass rushers like Orpako, Kearse and Kerrigan with perimeter-stuff (including draws and screens) to Ellington and quicker timing routes to our wideouts and TE.
Key Matchup (Depends on who's QB): If it's Thomas - Cardinal OL vs. Orapko, Kearse and Kerrigan. If it's Palmer or Stanton - Cardinal multi-WR's vs. Washington multi-DB's.
Matchup: Cardinal Running Attack vs. Washington Run Defense
Leading Wash tacklers are safeties and LB's - K Robinson (38), Clark (30), Riley (29) and Meriweather (26). If Thomas is our starter, Cards may rely more on their running attack to keep him upright. Other than that -one thing sticks in our mind: If Washington was so vulnerable to Percy Harvin a week ago, this might be Teddy Ginn's time to take center stage both as a return-man and as a receiver (put him in the slot nd try to shake him loose on bubble screens and jet-sweeps).
Key Matchup: Cardinal OL vs. Washington DL. Ginn vs. Washington's DE's, corners and/or OLB's.
P 05 Way
K 02 Forbath
H 05 Way
LS 57 Sundberg
KR 12 A Roberts
PR 12 A Roberts
K 07 Catanzaro
P 02 Butler
H 02 Butler
LS 82 Leach
KR 19 Ginn 12 John Brown
PR 19 Ginn 21 Peterson 12 John Brown
Matchup: Washington Special Teams vs. Cardinal Special Teams
Forbath has only missed one of 6 FG attenpts. Way outpunts Washington's competitors by 4.3 yards per punt, but his directional punting leaves much to be desired (33% of his punts have dropped inside the twenty or into the end zone compared to 58% for Washington opponents). Roberts edges out opposing punt returners by 1.5 yards per return, but Washington struggles on kickoff returns (its opponents average 29.8 ypr vs. 17.5 for ypr for Washington - that's like giving away 12.3 yards per return on every kickoff).
We like Catanzaro over Forbath. We're not sure about Butler vs. Way. We like Ginn over Roberts in the return game (although Teddy can be streaky-good or streaky-bad). We'll go out on a limb and predict that (assuming that the "good Teddy" shows up Sunday) special teams will determine who wins this game if it's a close contest).
Key matchups: Ginn vs. Washington coverage units.
Jay Gruden apparently has his hands full - his team is 1 & 4 and his team is being criticized for "not taking losing seriously." He's still waiting for his multi-talented QB (RG-3) to return to action. Coach Arians has to deal with a roster that (a) got whomped by Denver, (b) has been wracked with injuries iand (c) has to be wondering whether it has enough remaining talent to remain competitive. One thing that's stood BA in good stead since he arrived in the Desert is outstanding offensive playcalling. The same thing could be said about defensive playcalling until last week, when Todd Bowles didn't seem to have an answer to Denver's slants vs. man-coverage.
Lots of questions about this upcoming game - especially concerning who will be the Cardinal QB. How that plays out will have a huge impact on matchups let alone the actual outcome of the game. On paper, you have to favor the Cardinals (based on W & L record and home field advantage) but - given the pummeling the Denver loss gave to us physically as damage to the team's collective ego - there's a lot for us to be concerned about. This figures to be not only a "gut-check" game but also a "poise-check" contest.