Setting the Stage:
First game of regular season, with little to go on. Skins have a new QB (Alex Smith) and just signed Adrian Peterson to a short deal. Cards usher in the Steve Wilks era; complete with a new starting QB (Sam Bradford) and replace their 3-4 defense with a 4-3. A couple of SIRIUS radio hosts pick Washington to lead the NFC East.
Reviewing the Redskin roster and preseason stats, the Washington roster looks relatively unchanged, with the exception of the addition of QB Alex Smith (who brings a veteran presence and highly accurate arm to the Redskiin offense). Where Washington looks most dangerous is on defense - with a restructured and powerful defensive line (featuring top draft choice Daron Payne) , active linebackers (headlined by Ryan Kerrigan) and a solid secondary led by CB Josh Norman and S DJ Swearinger.
Washington's Last Game
It was a preseasion game, giving us little to learn from.
Redskins Preseason Team Stats to Date
First Downs - Wash 75 / Opponents 76
3rd Down Conversions - Wash 13/48 / Opponents 19/50
Passing YPA- Wash 7.2 / Opponents 6.7
Rushing YPC - Wash 4.7/ Opponents 4.2
Sacks By - Wash 7 / Opponents 12
Field Goals - Wash 7/9/ Opponents 11/11
Turnover Ratio minus-1
Redskins in a Thumbnail
Alex Smith is known for his accuracy and mobility.
Key Preseason Player Stats
Smith: 0 TD's...0 Int...81 Yds...Sacked 5 times...YPA 5.79...% Compl: 50%...67.6 QBR
Kelley: 30 for 91 yds...3.03 YPA...0 TD's
Perine: 15 for 91 yds...6.07 YPA...0 TD's
Peterson: 11 for 56 yds... 0 TD's
Quinn: 7 for 81 yds...11.57 YPR. 0 TD
Sims: 5 for 131 yds...26.2 YPR. 0 TD
Field Goals -
Way - Net Yds Avg: 45.6
Quinn: 5 Ret...7.8 YPR
Stroman 2 Ret...13.5 YPR
D Johnson: 2 Ret...7.0 YPR
Kickoff Returns -
Stroman: 2 Ret for 30 yds...15 YPR
Hamilton (13)...Apke (8)... Vigil (6)
Fernandez (2)....Lanier (1)...Payne (1) .. P Smith (1) Ionnides (1)
Interceptions - Wash 1 ( Opponents' 4)
QB ...11 A Smith...12 McCoy
RB.....26 A Peterson...25 C Thompson...20 Kelley....32 Perine...34 Marshall
WR1.....18 Doctson....83 Quick
WR2 ...80 Crowder...13 Harris...14 Quinn
WR3....10 Richardson...89 Sims
TE......86 Reed...85 V Davis.....87 Sprinkle
LT........71 T Williams..74 Christian Sr
LG .. 77 Lauvaox
OC ..73 Roullier...66 Bergrstrom...55 Dunn
RT ..76 Moses...79 Nsekhe
Defensive Interior Line
DE - 44 Golden, 91 Mayowa, xx Z Moore,
DT - 90 Nkemdiche, 72 Pierre, G Smith
NT - 98 Peters, 95 Gunter
DE- 55 C Jones, 96 J Smith
SAM - 43 Reddick, 92 Gardeck
MLB - 57 Bynes, (43 Reddick)
WILL - 20 Bucannon, 51 Hodges
LCB - 21 Peterson, 39 Nichols
RCB - 28 J Taylor, 23 Benwikere, 26 B Williams
SS - 36 Baker, 30 Ford, 47 Turner
FS - 41 Bethea, 38 Boston, 40 Tillman*
Matchup: Redskin Passing Attack vs. Cardinal Pass Defense
While Cards are expected to play more zone under Wilks' defense, A Smith is more of a high-accuracy passer who gets rid of the ball quickly and can be expected to be more adept tat attacking Cardinal zone coverage. Perennial Card Killer TE Vernon Davis is now a Redskin. All throughout the preseason, the Cardinal defense became known for making plays (i.e. sacks, fumble recoveries, interceptions) but we expect Messrs J Gruden and Smith to keep things fairly conservative while they let the Redskin defense win the game for them.
Key Matchups: Docton and Richardson vs. P Peterson and Taylor
Matchup: Redskin Rushing Attack vs. Cardinal Run Defense
Washington just signed Adrian Peterson. If he has the gas similar to what he had as a Cardinal, he can make things very uncomfortable for a Cardinal defense whose backups failed to prove they can tackle efficiently and consistently stop the run. (First string Cardinal run defense was OK in preseason/it was the backups that had us biting our nails).
Key Matchups: A Peterson vs. Cardinal Front Seven.
09 Bradford, 03 Rosen, 07 Glennon
23 D Johnson, 29 Edmonds, 22 Logan, 32 Coleman
WR - 11 Fitzgerald, 13 Kirk, 16 Sherfield
WR - 16 C Williams, 14 Nelson,
TE1 - 84 Gresham, 86 Seals-Jones, 85 Holmes
LT- 74 Humphries, 73 Wetzel, (79 Cunningham)
LG - 76 Iupati, 68 Vujnovich,
OC- 64 Cole, 62 Munyer
RG- 67 Pugh, (68 Vujnovich)
RT - 71 A Smith, 75 Clausell, 79 Cunningham
Defensive Interior Line
DE........93 Allen....90 Hood
NT.........95 Payne...97 Settle...99 Brantley
DD........98 Ionnidis....72 Lanier II
SLB......94 P Smitrh...52Anderson.....55 Carter
MLB.....53 Z Brown...56 Vigil...40 Harvey-Clemons
MLB...54 Foster...51 Hamilton
WLB....91 Kerrigan..98 McPhee
CB......23 Dunbar....31 Moreau...41 D Johnson
CB......24 Norman.....39 Alexander...37 Stroman
SS .....35 Nicholson...22 Everett
FS......36 Swearinger...30 Apke
Matchup: Cardinal Passing Attack vs. Redskin Pass Defense
Sam Bradford brings veteran leadership andhigh-accuracy to the quarterback position. Problem is - he also brings a historically brittle body. If he can remain healthy, the Cardinal offense should surprise the pundits. Second problem - WR depth behind Fitzgerald is super-iffy. How well receivers Christian Kirk, Chad Williams, JJ Nelson and Trent Sherfield take up the slack behind Fitz will have a huge bearing on how well the Cards do this season. Positive notes- (1) the Cardinal O-line figures to be significantly improved, and (2) David Johnson's return should take some of the pressure off Bradford.
Key Matchups: Card OL vs. Payne, Allen, Kerrigan, P Smith and Ionnidis. Fitz vs. Norman. Seals-Jones vs. Swearinger.
Matchup: Cardinal Running Attack vs. Redskin Run Defense
D Johnson returns fully healthy. At the very least, his presence and the mere threat of breaking off a long run should take some of the pressure off Bradford.
Key Matchups: D Johnson vs. Washington LB's. O-Line vs. Payne and Allen
K 03 Hopkins
P 05 Way
H 05 Way
LS 57 Sundberg
KR 37 Stroman...
PR 80 Crowder...14 Quinn
Cardinals Special Teams
P - 02 Lee
K- 04 Dawson
H - 02 Lee
LS -46 Brewer
KR - 22 Logan, 14 Nelson
PR - 13 Kirk, 22 Logan
Matchup: Redskin Special Teams vs. Cardinal Special Teams
Lee and Dawson look to provide a solid presence in the Cardinal kicking and punting game. Logan, Kirk and Nelson are a trio of home-run hitters in the return game. Nothing in the Redskin kicking, punting or coverage game especially scares us (though this might be more a function of ignorance than anything else). Late Cardinal roster moves said to bolster their special team play.
Key matchups: Other than the threat of Logan, Kirk or Nelson breaking one long - Nothing special of note
TN- HC Jay Gruden. OC M Kavanough. DC G Manusky. ST B Kotwika. Don't know much about Coach Gruden and his staff other than that they appear to stress fundamentally sound football.
Cards - My perception is that Steve Wilks brings a more conservative, fundamentally sound approach to Cardinal football in contrast to BA's "risk-it" approach to the game. Advantage of BA Ball - You can more readily flip the momentum of a game via one exciting big play. Disadvantage - Screw up and you can concede natural built-in "football advantages" (like time on the clock). Conversely, the Wilks approach, when executed perfectly, exploits the averages and can put pressure on the opposing teams & force their mistakes. But when things don't go well, it can make for a less exciting brand of football and difficulty overcoming adversity.
Cards - TBD
Skins - TBD
How to Beat the Redskins
1. Keep mistakes to a minimum, both tactically and in terms of technique. 2. Execute flawlessly.
First regular season games are really hard to scope out because teams seldom reveal all their goodies in preseason and they tend to protect their veteran players by limiting their number of snaps.
That said - I'd tend to give the edge to Arizona because more playmakers comprise their roster spots than do the Redskins.
(Now go prove it).