Washington Redskins vs. Green Bay Packers: Breaking Down Green Bay's Game Plan
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
After a heartbreaking loss to the San Francisco 49ers in Week 1, you can be sure the Packers will be excited for their first home game of the 2013 season. This will be the first time these two teams have met since the 2010 season. The Redskins won that meeting by the score of 16-13 with an overtime field goal.
While these two teams aren't overly familiar with each other, one thing we can be certain of is that they will combine for way more than 29 points. Green Bay scored 28 points in its Week 1 loss, and even though the Redskins struggled, they still managed to put 27 points on the board.
Today we'll break down Green Bay's game plan in order to get back on the winning track this week.
The Competitive Edge
Quarterback: While Robert Griffin III is certainly an electric player, there are only a handful of quarterbacks who can be considered in the same class as Aaron Rodgers. As of right now, Griffin isn't one of them.
Running backs: Alfred Morris is coming off a spectacular rookie season in which he gained over 1,600 rushing yards and scored 13 touchdowns. For Green Bay, rookie Eddie Lacy got the majority of the carries in Week 1. While he struggled at times, he definitely showed the potential to be a talented running back in this league.
Receivers: The trio of James Jones, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb is as good as any receiving trio in the league. Washington will rely heavily on Pierre Garcon but lacks the talent behind him to keep up with the Packers' receiving corps. Neither Santana Moss nor Leonard Hankerson is even close to being as talented as either Jones, Nelson or Cobb.
Tight Ends: Both Fred Davis and Jermichael Finley are loaded with potential. However, both have yet to live up to that potential. In terms of depth, the Redskins seem to have the edge thanks to the surprising play of rookie Jordan Reed in Week 1.
Offensive Line: This is easily the weakest unit for both teams. Both offensive lines struggled with their Week 1 matchups. However, the Packers' offensive line played a little better against a much tougher defensive line, so they get the slight edge.
Defensive Line: The Redskins' defensive line really struggled to do anything against the Philadelphia Eagles. Running back LeSean McCoy rushed for nearly 200 yards against Washington. The Packers' defensive line, on the other hand, did a fantastic job at keeping the 49ers' ground game in check.
Linebackers: Even though Green Bay's Clay Matthews is the most talented linebacker for either team, the Redskins have much better starting talent. Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan and London Fletcher are all talented players.
Secondary: The Packers' secondary was absolutely horrid in Week 1. Even though the Redskins are playing a handful of rookies, they still have the better secondary as of right now.
Special Teams: If the Packers let Cobb return punts and kickoffs, they get the edge here. However, neither team is known for the play of their special teams, so this is more of a wash than anything else.
Packers offense vs. Redskins defense
This is a matchup that the Green Bay Packers need to exploit early and often. The Redskins had the fourth-worst overall defense last year according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required). They didn't excel in any one area and fielded one of the worst run defenses in the league.
And it doesn't seem like things have changed at all for the Redskins' run defense. They gave up a ridiculous 263 rushing yards, including 184 yards to running back LeSean McCoy.
That's where Lacy and the supposedly improved ground game need to step it up. While Lacy played decently in his first career game, he was anything but dominant. A matchup against such a poor run defense should certainly help boost Lacy's confident. However, if Lacy struggles, it might be a sign to the Packers that he simply isn't ready to be a big-time contributor for this team.
The other area that Green Bay should be able to exploit rather easily is the defensive backfield of Washington. Neither DeAngelo Hall, nor Josh Wilson nor rookie David Amerson looked very good in Week 1. They were consistently beat for big gain after big gain by the Philadelphia Eagles' wide receivers.
Throw in the fact that Washington's starting safeties Bacarri Rambo and E.J. Biggers had two of the three worst weeks for safeties according to Pro Football Focus, and you have quite the combination for a big passing week for Green Bay.
The Packers had a good amount of success throwing the ball down the field to Nelson and Cobb in Week 1, and they should have even more success this week.
The only real area of concern in this matchup is with the offensive line, specifically the interior offensive line. T.J. Lang, Josh Sitton and Evan Dietrich-Smith all had horrible games in both the run and pass games.
As long as the offensive line can hold up, the Packers should be able to put points on the board at will against the Redskins.
Packers defense vs. Redskins offense
It simply wasn't a promising game for the Packers on defense in Week 1. They finished with the fourth-worst overall defense according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
The key for this week, much like last week, will be slowing down Robert Griffin III and the read-option. The comparisons between Griffin and 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick are definitely justified. However, Kaepernick proved to be a much better passer in the pocket in Week 1 than Griffin ever showed during his rookie season.
That means that the success the Packers had in stopping the read-option last week isn't likely to result in such a huge passing game this week. While Griffin can certainly beat a team with his arm, he needs his legs much more than Kaepernick does.
The Redskins aren't just a single-minded team offensively. They have a solid running back in Alfred Morris who also needs to be accounted for. However, the Packers defense was surprisingly stout against San Francisco and its dominant run game in Week 1.
The Packers only allowed 90 yards on the ground last week, and it took the 49ers a whopping 34 carries to even get to that amount. With Johnny Jolly, B.J. Raji and Ryan Pickett holding down things in the middle, the Redskins will likely have difficulties moving the ball on the ground this week.
The key player this week for Green Bay is none other than outside linebacker Clay Matthews. He needs to be able to create pressure, which he should be able to do against a weaker offensive line in Washington. Matthews will also be the key, like he was in Week 1, in slowing down Griffin and the read-option. If he can be as aggressive as he was last week, without the recklessness, the Packers should be just fine defensively.
While Green Bay was dominated on this side of the ball last week, don't be surprised if it plays much better against Washington with a more favorable matchup.
Neither the Redskins nor the Packers are known for their special teams. In fact, neither unit was counted on for big plays during Week 1 losses.
For Green Bay, it'll be interesting to see if it decides to give Cobb more opportunities in the return game. While that could hinder his development as a wide receiver, the Packers could use a boost in the return game. They never seemed to get quality field position, except when Cobb had a 16-yard punt return on his lone opportunity.
Kicker Mason Crosby will also need to be closely watched. He didn't have a single opportunity at a field goal in the first game. If he's given some chances this week, all eyes will be on whether or not he makes his opportunities.
Don't expect special teams to win this game for either team. However, a big play from the Packers or the Redskins could go a long way in determining the victor.
Packers' Wednesday Injury Report Analysis
There were two new names added to the Packers' injury report on Tuesday.
|Player||Injury||Wednesday Practice Status|
|Jermichael Finley||Toe||Did Not Practice|
|Josh Sitton||Back||Did Not Practice|
|Nick Perry||Neck||Full participation|
Both Jermichael Finley and Josh Sitton were held out of practice on Wednesday. Neither injury was evident during the game, but losing both players on Sunday would be a huge blow to the Packers.
However, Green Bay also got good news with safety Morgan Burnett participating in practice this week. Sure, it was on a limited basis, but it's a good sign toward Burnett returning sooner rather than later.
Sitton, Finley and Burnett are all players to keep an eye on for the remainder of the week. As long as they all practice on Friday, there is a good chance that they'll be playing on Sunday.
The Packers Will Win If....
They win the turnover and time of possession battles.
The Packers lost both of these battles in Week 1. They gave up two turnovers to the 49ers without creating one and also only had possession of the ball for a little over 21 minutes of the game. That means San Francisco had the ball for nearly 18 more minutes than Green Bay.
For starters, that's just too long for the defense to be on the field. If there is one thing the Packers lack on the defensive side of the ball, it's depth. They simply don't have the ability to continuously rotate their starters in and out and still be successful. Without their starters, the Packers' defensive production declines at a surprising rate.
As far as turnovers, the Packers simply don't win when they don't create them.
Also goes to show how utterly dependent #Packers defense is on takeaways. They just don't win when they force zero turnovers.— Jason Wilde (@jasonjwilde) September 9, 2013
Whether its the cornerbacks getting interceptions or linebackers punching out the ball, Green Bay needs to create some turnovers on Sunday.
If they can do both of these things, they should be able to come away with their first win of the season this Sunday.
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