Giants (2-0) vs Redskins (0-2)
Last week in the fourth quarter, the Redskins were up by 3 points. They hoped
to extend their lead down at the Cowboys 6 yard line, but Kirk Cousins threw an
interception in the end zone. Later Alfred Morris, their former running back,
scored the go-ahead touchdown to give his new Cowboys team a 27-23 win.
Giants were playing in their home opener after coming off a close win in Dallas.
Their defense limited the Saints to just 13 points. With the special teams unit
scoring a touchdown to add to their three field goals, the Giants fans went home
happy with a 16-13 win.
No NFC East division champion team
has repeated since 2004 and the defending Redskins are off to a poor start with
a 0-2 record. How well they finish has a lot to do with how quarterback Kirk
Cousins does throwing the ball. So far it' hasn't been all that good, with Cousins
throwing for only one touchdown and three interceptions. Two of them were in the
red zone, where his completion percentage is a dismal 29.4. Looking back at eleven
of the games he played last season, Cousins threw just a single touchdown per
game and had 11 overall interceptions for 4 wins and 7 losses.
In the others,
Cousins had either three or four touchdowns in each game to total 18 touchdowns
with no interceptions. They were all wins. So how does head coach Jay Gruden get
the 'You Like That' Cousins to show up on a more regular basis? Gruden says that
Cousins 'needs to relax, calm down'. Maybe it would help him relax if they took
some weight off his shoulders with a running game. Cousins is tied right now with
Blake Bortles (Jaguars 0-2) for throwing the most passes this season (89).
Last week it was almost a slap in the face to see Alfred Morris run the ball in
for a touchdown. Morris was the leading rusher for the Redskins last year with
751 yards and a 3.7 yards per carry average. Matt Jones was second with 490 yards
for a 3.4 average, and the former rookie is in the top spot now. In their first
game, the Redskins had 55 rushing yards and 82 in the second. Cousins running
was responsible for 8 and 20 yards respectively for a total of 28 yards out of
the total 137. The running backs have averaged less than 55 yards a game.
off you'd think that their lead running back Jones isn't carrying the ball, and
you're right on that in one respect. Jones isn't carrying the ball because they're
not giving it to him. His average is 4.3 yards a carry and he has one touchdown,
but they've only given him the ball 20 times over two losing games. There was
a comment after the 2014 season that Morris had made the Pro Bowl, but he wasn't
as productive under Jay Gruden as he was before,
'largely because the new coach often abandoned the run when Washington fell behind'.
said, we have to admit that it's tempting to throw to DeSean Jackson whenever
possible. With his help the Redskins are currently second in the league with 7
completions of 25 or more yards. Jackson was banged up during the third quarter
of the Cowboys game and that didn't help their chances. Jamison Crowder had a
great rookie season and continues to impress. Pierre Garcon caught all six of
Cousins passes in their first game, but they connected for only 2 out of 7 last
week. Jordan Reed is one of the best pass catching tight ends and was the top
receiver for the Redskins last year.
In their opener against the Steelers, they allowed three passing touchdowns, but
last week gave up none. It was the three rushing touchdowns and two field goals
that did them in. They sacked Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott four times and
caused running back Ezekiel Elliott to fumble twice. What they didn't do was employ
Josh Norman, their 75 million dollar man, (5 year contract), against the Cowboys
top receiver Dez Bryant until the fourth quarter. Bryant ended up with 7 catches
for 102 yards.
The week earlier it was the same coverage story, with Steelers
Antonio Brown. Redskins cornerback, Bashaud Breeland tried to keep up with Brown,
who snared 8 catches for 126 yards and 2 touchdowns. So have the Redskins learned
their lesson? Can they afford to cover Odell
Beckham Jr. with anyone other than Norman?
There was a leaked report earlier in the week that Norman will cover Beckham all
over the field except in the slot.
general the secondary will be tested, as the Giants will field a better group
of receivers than last year when they took a 20-14 loss to the Redskins. Getting
to Eli Manning will be a priority for linebacker Ryan Kerrigan who already has
1.5 sacks and a forced fumble so far this season. Trent Murphy was effective last
week with 1.5 sacks, three quarterback hits and a forced fumble. Overall they'
need to do better stopping opponents on third down plays. They are last in the
league in that area.
Last week Eli Manning and his
offense were unable to come up with even one touchdown. They committed three turnovers
and Manning's receivers had a number of drops on well placed balls. Even with
that, Manning completed 32 of 41 passes for 368 yards. In case you hadn't noticed,
Sterling Shepard led the Giants in receiving with 117 yards, and he caught all
eight passes Manning threw his way. The week before Shepard caught three of four,
including one touchdown and three of his catches on the year have gone for 20
plus yards. That's the same for Victor Cruz and his big 34 yarder last week with
less than two minutes left, was the one that allowed Manning to put the game away.
Odell Beckham Jr. dropped a sure pass on the play right before that, so Cruz bailed
him and the Giants out with his catch. It will be interesting to see how the Redskins
will handle the trio. Running backs Shane Vereen, Rashad Jennings, and tight ends
Larry Donnell, Will Tye combined, have so far missed on only 6 of Manning's 25
passes to them. Jennings is expected to play despite the fact that he hurt his
thumb and wrist during last week's game. The Giants need to pick up on the running
game, where they average just 3.2 yards a carry.
They're doing a lot of things
right and it's a good thing too, because their offense isn't lighting up the scoreboard.
They could help themselves by causing a turnover and they are one of the few teams
that has yet to accomplish that. They are stopping the run (fourth in the NFL)
and have been able to keep their opponents out of the end zone. Even though the
Redskins have had some success, the haven't shown much desire to run the ball
anyway, and it's unlikely that they'll start here.
Kirk Cousins can get a
hot hand and the last time the Giants faced Washington, Cousins threw a 63-yard
touchdown pass to DeSean Jackson and scored on a quarterback sneak, but this isn't
the 32nd-ranked defense he met with back then. This group has been able to limit
the big plays and they have allowed just two touchdowns in the first two games.
Steve Spagnuolo has been playing things smart and seems intent on keeping
injuries down and players fresh. For example last week Dominique
Rodgers-Cromartie was in the game less against the Saints than
rookie Eli Apple. He's also limited linebacker Devon Kennard. Still defensive
end Olivier Vernon has been dealing with a wrist injury, and Nat
Berhe will make his second start at free safety in place of the Darian Thompson.
Redskins have scored more points than the Giants over these two opening games
(36-39), and yet they have two losses to show for it. One reason is that their
defense has given up twice as many points (65-32). Both teams certainly need more
offensive scoring. Turnovers are not helping either one and they both struggle
in the red zone. There is only one team since 1990 that has started a season with
two home losses and then went on to make the playoffs.
That was the Eagles
in 2003, so the Redskins have extra incentive for this match up. Even with that,
and assuming Josh Norman and Odell Beckham
Jr. cancel each other out, it's going to be
hard for Washington to deal with the Giants receivers. In fact, if Norman was
smart he would shove rookie Sterling Shepard
around a bit just to get an overprotective Beckham off his game. I'm expecting
Kirk Cousins to throw another 45 passes with
about the same results he's been having, and the Giants will win.
NFC East Games
at 1:00pm Redskins (0-2) at Giants (2-0).
Sunday at 4:25pm Steelers (2-0) at
Sunday at 8:30pm Bears (0-2) at Cowboys (1-1).
and Cowboys are favored to win in these games.
Giants Odell Beckham Jr.,
in 3 games against the Redskins, has 28 receptions for 364 yards and 5 TDs.
Odell Beckham Jr., in the last four he's played, has not had a 100 yard plus game.
have started the season at 2-0. Last time was in 2009 when they won the first
Giants defense does not have a
takeaway yet on the season.
Redskins DeSean Jackson
leads the NFL with 101 receptions of 25 yards or longer since he came into the
league in 2008.
Redskins have not won
in a Giants home game since 2011.
were up 20-0 in the 4th quarter and intercepted Eli Manning three times in the
last game they played, before taking the win 24-20.
Kirk Cousins led the NFL in the final eight games in 2015 with a 69.8 completion
Cousins is 1-3 in four career starts against the Giants, completing just 55 percent
of his passes, with 3 touchdowns, 8 interceptions and a lost fumble.
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