3TFO: Redskins @ Giants, Week 17
In this week 17 NFC East showdown the 3-12 Washington Redskins travel to the Meadowlands to play the 6-9 New York Giants. The last time these two teams played was in week 13 on Sunday Night Football with the Giants winning 24-17.
The Redskins failed to even compete to defend their NFC East crown, while the Giants have also disappointed. The Redskins want at least one division win (the last season they didn’t have at least one was Jim Zorn’s final 4-12 2009 campaign), and came close last week only to suffer some late game Tony Romo plays. Meanwhile, the Giants are coming off an OT win over the Detroit Lions where they ended Detroit’s fading playoff hopes. Who wins a meaningless December divisional match up?
William Beatty vs. Redskins ROLB
Giants LT William Beatty got a five-year contract prior to this season. Despite the new deal, Beatty’s performance protecting Eli’s blindside this season has gone about as bad as the team’s season itself. With only one regular season game left, Beatty has the fourth-worst pass-blocking grade among tackles, and has seven ‘red’ graded performances in this area, one of which was against the Redskins. Among the 13 sacks he’s conceded, the most memorable may have been the sack where Jared Allen managed to grab and not let go of Eli with Beatty still literally between them (1:00 minute left in second quarter of the MNF game vs. the Vikings).The former second-round pick was beaten for two sacks (including on NYG’s first offensive snap) and a hurry by Brian Orakpo, and another sack by backup ROLB Rob Jackson later on in the initial week 13 meeting with Washington.
It’s unclear whether Beatty will be up primarily against Orakpo, who leads the Redskins in sacks this year and Jackson, or just Jackson. Orakpo suffered a groin injury in last week’s game and may not play. Jackson is no stranger to the starting role, having taken over for an injured Orakpo full-time for week 3 and on last season. Jackson’s strength at the starting ROLB spot last year was his coverage (+7.0), not his pass rushing production (-5.0); still, he had his two best pass rushing performances against NYG, beating Beatty specifically for a combined sack (putting Beatty on his back in the process) and five hurries, one which is invisible on the stat sheet because it forced a holding penalty late in the rematch that helped seal a Washington victory. Jackson also had a fourth quarter sack on a disguised blitz in that game, though Beatty was not charged as responsible. Can Beatty end a horrific season on a good note, or fall victim to Jackson and/or Orakpo again?
In his much-publicized two starts this season, sophomore Kirk Cousins earned a +0.4 (the Falcons game) and a -1.7 (the Dallas game) passing grade. Despite two interceptions and the incompletion to a well-covered Garcon on the failed two-point conversion that would have won the game, Cousins performed much better in that Atlanta loss with 381 passing yards and three scores, one which was a 50+ yard bomb to Garcon. The Dallas game was a different story. Cousins threw for three yards shy of 200 and a TD (most of the yardage and the score to Pierre Garcon, usually on crossing patterns), along with a pick, but, as is often the case, the stats don’t tell the whole story. It was actually fitting that safety Jeff Heath picked off one of his throws because on back-to-back plays in the first quarter (9:52 and 9:47) Cousins, under pressure, overthrew passes over the middle that were nearly picked off by Heath and then fellow safety Barry Church. Furthermore, the play before the Heath pick, Cousins again overthrew a pass that was very close to being intercepted by Church (1:00 left in second quarter). It was inevitable. He also threw the final pass, down by one point, out of bounds on a fourth down. In what may very well be his final audition for a new team next year, how will he perform?
Eli vs. Redskins Secondary
Eli Manning is a two-time Super Bowl MVP, and no one can ever take those titles away. However, he also leads the league in interceptions with only one game left (Carson Palmer and rookie Geno Smith are tied for second-most picks with 21, five less than Eli). Fittingly, his first pass of the season was picked off by defensive end DeMarcus Ware, and he’s not thrown a pick in only three games this year, while also throwing five just two weeks ago at home against the Seahawks. Eli also had the 13th most passes dropped on him, but you don’t throw 26 interceptions without being responsible for the majority of them.
He will have a chance to end the season on a good note against a weak Redskins pass defense – you know things haven’t gone well when an OLB (Orakpo) has by far the highest coverage grade on the unit with one game to go. No DB on this unit has a positive coverage grade, with rookie David Amerson and safety/slot CB E.J. Biggers faring the worst. DeAngelo Hall, who has had some success in a few games, especially when he shadowed a team’s opposing #1 WR on all plays except in the slot, but he was the biggest victim of Eli’s in the first game, conceding all six passes thrown in his coverage for 89 yards. Eli was victimized by Brandon Meriweather, tied with Rashad Jones for the 16th worst coverage grade among safeties, who intercepted an overthrow under pressure over the middle, though.
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