December 9, 2019

Washington Redskins Week 4 Preview: New York Giants

It hasn’t been an easy start to the 2014 Washington Redskins season, although there’s more hope than usually accompanies their current 1-2 record.  Despite debilitating injuries so far, the Redskins offense has managed to impress over the past two weeks while the defense has displayed improvement at times.  The have a short week ahead, however, as the New York Giants will travel to FedEx Field and challenge the Redskins with their second divisional game in four days. Luckily, the Redskins seem to be catching the Giants during a slow start to their season.

The Giants, like Washington, are 1-2 and are in the midst of what could be a transformational year for their franchise.  The Giants no longer boast the dominant defense they were known for just a few short years ago.  Quarterback Eli Manning is coming off a statistically career-worst 2013 campaign and doesn’t look to be changing that trend, thus placing his future with the team in serious question.  Finally, head coach Tom Coughlin, who has two years left on his contract, is thought to be on his shortest leash ever.

There are a few bright spots so far this season for New York.  Last week, the Giants scored a solid 30 points against a strong Houston defense in rout to a win.  Running back Rashad Jennings, now in his sixth NFL season, has been impressive early, amassing 286 yards and averaging 4.2 yards per carry. However, there remains many more questions rather than answers concerning how the Giants will perform in a division where teams may be a lot closer than most predicted during the preseason.

The Washington Redskins are looking to answer some of the numerous questions they are facing on Thursday night.  Is the defense worthy of a top five ranking?  Is Kirk Cousins for real?  What is wrong with the special teams unit?  The matchup against New York may not give us definitive answers, but this is a team that the Redskins, based on the last two weeks, should be able to beat.

Ironically enough, our keys to the game this week vs. New York center around these very questions the Redskins will look to solve.

Keys to the game

Defense: Next man up

The Redskins defense has been decimated by injury in just three short weeks.  When they lineup against the Giants Thursday night, they will already be starting rookie and sophomore corners due to DeAngelo Hall landing on season ending injured reserve.  To add even more insult to injury, many defensive starters and solid depth contributors were limited in practice this week.  The secondary seems exposed, the front seven is banged up, and the unit looked fairly unimpressive at times during the Philadelphia game.

There is hope for this week, however.  The Eagles are a top ten, if not top five offense in the league this year and the defense was still able to hold them just enough to give the Redskins offense a chance to win the game.  This week, they face a much less talented, albeit still dangerous, offensive unit comprised of INT-happy Eli Manning, elusive Victor Cruz, and bruiser Rashad Jennings.  The key to beating this offense is simple, as it is most weeks: force Manning into mistakes.

Over the span of his career, Eli has held his own in the pocket, escaping impossible pass rush situations to find an open receiver downfield.  This cannot happen tonight.  Jason Hatcher, Chris Baker, and the two outside linebackers must get to Manning early and often.  The secondary is in transition and may have a tough time maintaining solid coverage on his receivers throughout the game.  An effective pass rush is the main ingredient to success.

Kirk Cousins: Glory awaits

Despite earlier comments, and even after reaffirming those comments, this is Kirk Cousins’ team until further notice.  The last two games have been nothing short of outstanding for the third year quarterback, but now he must take his game to a new level.  As Robert Griffin III did so many times in his electrifying rookie campaign, the next step for Cousins is to put the team on his back and win the game.  The win was there for the taking late in the fourth quarter last week and Cousins couldn’t capitalize.  It seems as though he starts games strong and steadily declines as time ticks down.  He needs to find a way to re-focus, re-energize, and re-capitalize on just how important he is to the success of this team.

Kirk Cousins will post another outstanding performance against the Giants.  He is a perfect fit for what Jay Gruden wants to install in his weekly offensive game plan.  The key will be ensuring that Kirk’s plethora of talented targets are on the same page.  That, along with a healthy dose of Alfred Morris and Roy Helu Jr., should be enough to get the Redskins in position to win the game.

We want Danny Smith

Ok, so maybe Redskins fans shouldn’t jump ship on special teams coordinator Ben Kotwica just yet.  We are three weeks into the season after all.  But, and this is putting it lightly, the special teams performance through the intial games of the season have been an unmitigated disaster.  Blocked field goals, missed field goals, returns for touchdowns.  We’ve seen almost every special teams blunder possible and it has been three weeks.  What is wrong with this unit?

The burgundy and gold faithful should take a deep breath and exhale here.  Kotwica has already made a change that is drastically improving the unit already, and that’s putting lefty punter Tress Way on kickoff duties.  Way, in his short time, has proven that he can put the ball in the endzone on kickoffs more consistently than place kicker Kai Forbath.  This is only a start, of course, but you have to begin somewhere and preventing a return altogether is certainly an improvement.

Redskins fans are eager for signs of life from Special Teams tonight.

OUR PREDICTIONS

Dave Nichols

Kirk Cousins follows up his mostly stellar performance against the Eagles with another good outing at home against the Giants. Alfred Morris plays a bigger role as well. The defense will still look bad but the Giants make too many mistakes on offense. Redskins 24 Giants 21

Joe Ziegengeist

Kirk Cousins shines, special teams gets back on track, but the banged up defense falters.  Skins win a close one here.  Redskins 31 Giants 27

Neil Dalal

Kirk Cousins has shown potential to execute Jay Gruden’s offense and hopefully with another week of practice he will have more chemistry with his receivers. Although we are struggling with many injuries hopefully since the Giants have to travel here on a short week hopefully they will have a slight advantage. Hopefully the front seven can continue to stop the run against a hot Rashad Jennings and the depleted secondary can find a way to shut down Victor Cruz, a historic Redskins killer. Unfortunately I do not think our defense is up to the task without Deangelo Hall, but Cousins will give the team an opportunity to win late.  Redskins 30 Giants 27

Joe Miller

The offense under Kirk Cousins isn’t quite as explosive this week as it was against the Eagles, but Alfred Morris has a bigger impact. The defense continues to shut down the run well and are able to take advantage of turnover-prone Eli Manning with a couple interceptions.  Redskins 24 Giants 16

Justin Byram

The Redskins come out Hungry for their first divisional win since 2012, and dominate the Giants. The Redskins front seven puts pressure on Manning forcing two costly turnovers, while Cousins and the offense do their job and the Redskins cruise to a victory at home.  Redskins 28 Giants 17

Eric Hobeck

A fourth-quarter touchdown drive by Cousins gives Washington a big win ahead of the long week before the Seattle game.  Redskins 28 Giants 24

 

 

About Joe Ziegengeist

Joe Ziegengeist is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Redskins. He is a 2012 graduate of Old Dominion University where he earned a degree in sports management. Joe grew up in Chesapeake, VA and has shared season tickets to the Redskins since 2007 and is an avid fan of the Boston Red Sox. Joe has been featured in Hanover Lifestyle and RichmondNavigator.com. Joe is an Account Executive for Ripken Baseball in Aberdeen, Maryland and a Machinery Technician in the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve. You can follow Joe on Twitter @bostonskins.

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