3TFO: Giants @ Redskins, Week 13
It’s that time again, where football is almost done for another week (or at least until Thursday), and it’s going out with a bang on Monday Night Football. The Giants become the first team to get a second shot at slowing down and neutralizing Robert Griffin III and the exciting Redskins offense, this time on the road as they head to the nation’s capital.
For the Giants, the season has been something of a roller coaster, but they find themselves entering December in the position they want to be in: right in the mix and knowing a run of fine form will take them to where they want to be.
The first meeting between these two sides this season was a close 27-23 affair with the Giants just coming out on top in the New Meadowlands, so the Redskins will be hoping that a change in venue will be enough to swing the score line to their favor and finish by closing to within a game of the Giants in the division.
What are the key areas to deciding which way the game will go?
Stopping the Option
The Washington offense is based around the run game and the option attack that allows RG3 to open up and attack when the defense gets too preoccupied with stopping it. The success of that running game allows the Redskins to have one of the league’s most effective passing offenses off play-action fakes, which take on an added dimension of worry for defenses with the option fakes. No QB has a better passer rating when using play action than RG3’s 124.5 this season, and his yards per attempt figure more than doubles to 12.5 over passes attempted without play action. He is also completing 69.9% of those passes and has hit teams for eight touchdowns.
In order to stop the play action passes the Giants need to stuff the run, and last meeting they couldn’t. Alfred Morris racked up 120 yards at 5.5 per carry, while Darrel Young added 26 from his five carries, but perhaps the biggest issue was they lost contain on the quarterback completely, allowing him to notch 89 yards on the ground. Four of those were scrambles accounting for 44 yards, but five were designed option runs where the Giants blew their defense for 45 yards. If the Redskins get a similar result this week, they will likely hurt the Giants more on play action.
Jason Pierre Paul vs. Redskins OTs
The Giants’ best pass rusher will swap sides of the line over the course of the game, so we can’t limit him simply to the matchup against Trent Williams. In the first meeting he spent a dozen snaps on the other side of the line working against the right side of the Washington line. Williams has become one of the league’s more able left tackles and — despite a few blips in his season — is still ranked 16th overall in our OT rankings, having surrendered just three sacks on the season and only 16 total pressures. The other side of the line, however, is a different proposition altogether, with Tyler Polumbus surrendering more than twice that amount of pressure, 39 on the season.
Pierre Paul was limited effectively by Williams in the first encounter, notching a sack but nothing else against the big tackle, so whether he spends more time on the other side working against the much more susceptible tackle will be interesting to watch. The Giants need JPP to be a factor in this game.
There are few players as tough to cover as the Giants’ Victor Cruz, especially when he lines up in the slot, which he does on 69.3% of his snaps this season. He has the kind of route running ability to completely lose defenders, and fakes that can cause fatal missteps from slot defenders who have to worry about a receiver with a two-way go and no sideline to aid in their defense.
The first time these two sides met this season Josh Wilson was the man shadowing Cruz as Washington’s best corner, tracking him to the slot and being targeted six times. He let Cruz escape for three catches, 102 yards and a touchdown, and recently the slot duties have fallen to DeAngelo Hall. In the past two games he has held receivers to a total of 48 yards from 12 combined targets and had an interception in each game. Cruz represents a challenge on another level, and Hall will need to remain disciplined in his technique and coverage or he will lose the handle entirely, resulting in the same catch-and-run given up by Wilson in the first game.
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