In less than 36 hours, OBOD will touching down at Dulles International to toss some donuts around the nation’s capital for four days. In our first roadtrip of the season (and quite frankly our first roadtrip as Ol’ Bag of Donuts) we will be taking in some of the historical sights and sounds, have a few barley pops at the Hawk and Dove and pray that Gene doesn’t lead into the mean streets, where we will undoubtedly sacrifice Lempesis first. That is if he survives the flight Saturday morning because apparently Chris is scared of flying. Like that big, old, creaky plan will come just crashing down out of the skying and leaving all passengers left to perish. Man, I hope I have time to get a few bloody’s down before I venture on the experience of Lempesis on a plane.
But I digress. Before we skip town we need to take a look into the Packers’ opponent this week and for that we reached to Jack Anderson from SkinsTalk. Jack seems to be blogging about everything in the D.C. area and we couldn’t source to give us some answers about the Redskins that were not of the cookie cutter variety.
1.) What are your thoughts on Ryan Torain taking over the reigns from Clinton Portis this week?
With Portis out for 4-6 weeks, the load is squarely on Torain’s shoulders. After a solid preseason, I expected him to make the final roster, but he was put on the practice squad and didn’t reach the big time until two weeks ago against St. Louis.
Torain is a straight-ahead running back with a ton of power and a tough running style. He carried the ball 18 times against the Eagles this past week, but one carry stood out. With the Redskins driving on their first possession, Torain steamrolled safety Quintin Mikell with a shoulder en route to a 12-yard touchdown run. The play was just a phenomenal display of brute physicality.
While Portis remains a physical back, he just doesn’t have Torain’s willingness to initiate contact anymore. Torain should be able to provide a solid presence in the running game, but it’s tough to envision him as a feature back for a long period of time. He can’t pass block (something Portis excels at) and has a bad habit of dancing in the hole. He’s at his best when he hits the hole hard and doesn’t hesitate. He needs to learn to take what the defense gives him and go down when there’s nowhere to go. Torain had several runs against Philly where he tried to extend a play laterally, but he isn’t that type of back and it cost him yardage.
2.) Who on the Packers’ offense outside of Aaron Rodgers worries you the most come Sunday?
With the injury to Ryan Grant, the Packers have yet to develop a threat running the football. Brandon Jackson and John Kuhn won’t strike fear in the Redskins so I would have to look to tight end Jermichael Finley. Finley’s combination of size and athleticism is tough to cover against. The Redskins don’t really have a linebacker who can matchup with him man for man down the field. Safety LaRon Landry might have the ability to keep up with Finley, but the tight end has five inches and 30 pounds on him.
Finley poses a serious problem to the Redskins secondary who will already have to play sound football on the outside against Donald Driver and Greg Jennings. Sure tackling (which hasn’t been a constant for Washington) is a must in this game for the Redskins.
3.) In what ways has McNabb improved the offense so far, primarily the passing game?
Honestly, McNabb has been very average with the exception of the game against Houston. The Redskins are ranked 13th in the NFL in passing (they were 16th in 2009), and McNabb is completing just 57.9 percent of his passes. He has thrown for 958 yards, good for 11th in the NFL, but 426 of those came against the Texans.
McNabb certainly brings more of a confidence to the unit yet he is still trying make the transition to Kyle Shanahan’s offense. He has burned four timeouts in the third quarter this year and third down conversions are non-existent (25 percent conversion rate, 31st in the league).
The greatest attribute McNabb has shown this year is his ability avoid sacks. His mobility is vastly better than predecessor Jason Campbell’s and it has extended drives in every game for the Redskins offense. McNabb will need to be at his best when facing a ferocious Green Bay pass rush this weekend.
4.) How has the switch to the 3-4 on defense gone so far?
Much like Green Bay last year, the Redskins have struggled to shut down premiere passers. Matt Schaub torched the secondary for 497 yards in week two with a show-stopping performance in which Washington had no answers in the second half.
Unlike Green Bay, Washington has been average in run defense and very leaky over the middle in coverage. Big plays ravaged the secondary last season, and new defensive coordinator Jim Haslett has placed a heavy emphasis on preventing success for opposing teams downfield. It’s worked as the Redskins have only given up one pass play over 40 yards.
However, the Redskins have been plagued by a secondary which is very soft underneath. The past two weeks the ‘Skins have allowed a pair of inexperienced quarterbacks to pick them apart in the short-to-intermediate passing game.
Te reason for the issues against the run and short passing game is a linebacking corps which lacks lateral speed. Lorenzo Alexander is now the starter on the left as Andre Carter is better suited at defensive end. Alexander will provide a boost, but both he and Brian Orakpo are liabilities in coverage.
The Redskins don’t really have the personnel to dominate in the 3-4 and it’s already quite apparent. Haslett knows this, but he designed the defense in hopes of creating turnovers and sacks. So far the numbers have yet to outweigh the risk of the new defense as Washington has eight sacks, three interceptions, and 6 forced fumbles; all average numbers.
5.) The Redskins are currently 31st against the pass, but it seems they have enough playmakers in their secondary (Landry, Hall, Rogers) that the ranking shouldn’t be that high. Is the ranking misleading and what will be the game plan with Packers pass-heavy offense coming to town?
The ranking really isn’t misleading. Free safety Kareem Moore returned two weeks ago to improve the pass defense, but Rogers has been average and Hall has been hot and cold at corner. Landry has been a glorified linebacker with the exception of last week’s game against the Eagles and aside from him, the secondary misses too many tackles.
The secondary is more talented than their ranking suggests, but for some reason it doesn’t look good. The scheme is too soft and doesn’t fit Rogers’ bump and run style while Hall tends to have mental lapses on the other side. That can’t happen on Sunday with physical receivers like Driver and Jennings. The secondary needs to tackle and play tighter in coverage or Rodgers will have an easy time of it.
Thanks again to Jack from SkinsTalk for joining us think. Check out his website if you wanted some more additional insight on the Redskins leading up the game on Sunday. We are all excited to invade Jack’s fine city this weekend and make our presence known at the great monstrosity that is known as FedEx Field.