When Redskins Featured Columnist Brandon Keener approached me about answering a few questions on the Indianapolis Colts and Washington Redskins Sunday night showdown, I was more than happy to. It is an interesting concept and provides a little more insight than normally provided.
The following are five questions I asked Brandon about the game and the Redskins in general. To see the five questions I answered, follow this link.
Alek Frost: Donovan McNabb was a huge addition in the off-season for the Redskins without question, their last championship caliber quarterback was probably Doug Williams. But despite the fact Washington is winning (3-2), McNabb’s numbers for the most part are less than impressive. How are the ’Skins winning without big numbers from McNabb?
Brandon Keener -
One thing the Redskins have not had in a very long time is a quarterback that can connect with his receivers and keep a cool head when it matters the most. The Colts have had one since 1998, the Redskins haven’t had one since around 1988 (Mark Rypien did win the Super Bowl but he was letting himself slip).
The Redskins showed last week that they can come from behind when it counts with two great late game drives and then the drive for the field goal in overtime. McNabb has been that way most of his career too. He takes a few chances early in the game and gets rid of the ball instead of taking a lot of sacks, then later in the game he trusts his line to give him a few seconds to find someone.
AF: The Redskins’ secondary has had obvious struggles over the first five weeks of the season. What do you attribute those struggles to most? Talent, scheme or execution?
The obvious answer would be to say all three. I truly think that Jim Haslett has the right idea for a good defensive game plan though so that takes out the scheme part of it. The top three cornerbacks on the Redskins defense are DeAngelo Hall, Carlos Rogers and Philip Buchanon. All were good at spots of their careers, including Hall making the Pro Bowl before he went to Oakland, and I have always said that if Rogers could catch all the passes he gets his hands on he’d be a first ballot Hall of Famer but he doesn’t.
Buchanon showed some flashes early in his career of being good but he only relies on his speed to get him out the fixes his mind gets him in. Overall, execution is not that great and the talent part is diminishing because the Redskins have one good corner and two nickel backs therefore making the execution of someone more skilled difficult. So to answer your question plainly, talent is the problem.
AF: Clinton Portis will not play for the next several weeks due to a groin injury. Who will step up for the Washington while Portis is out with injuries?
Ryan Torain. He filled in for Portis last week against the Packers and is slated to do so again this week. When Portis and Torain run a two back set they compliment each other very well, but game planning against Torain by himself is very easy. Expect a lot of between the lineman runs and for a few guys to have their helmets clunked into.
He’s a physical runner but he’s also very green and his field vision is not too good yet. One thing I can say is the Redskins offensive line appears to be pretty good against a 4-3 defense but struggles against a 3-4 defense with a speedy linebacker always playing spy.
AF: With injuries in the running game, will the Redskins lean more heavily on their passing attack? And if so, do they have the experience in the wide receiver core as well as the firepower to win without a consistent contribution from the running game?
Nobody has an easy time winning without the threat of a running game especially as the temperatures start to drop. The Redskins should give the ball to a running back or full back about 20 times this weekend I’m predicting. Nothing overwhelming though. I think you will see a similar passing game to the one we saw last week. The Skins have three veteran receivers, if you include the tight end. Santana Moss, Joey Galloway and Chris Cooley are more than capable of making a catch if the ball gets there.
Anthony Armstrong is a new comer this year that has shown explosive speed but unreliable hands. If he has his “A” game on, then he’s pesky. If he doesn’t, then he’s only out there to fill the required total for guys on the field.
AF: The Colts have had a lot of struggles in pass protection this year due in part to injuries and inexperience along the offensive line. Will the Redskins be able to generate enough of a pass rush to keep Peyton Manning on the run or will Manning have enough time to tear the ‘Skins’ secondary apart?
It is going to be give and take. Peyton Manning is going to pick them apart during some drives and he’ll be running for his life on others. One person that you will see chasing him a lot is Brian Orakpo. He is constantly being held all season long, but it has not been called very much, and he still gets in the backfield and collapses a pocket by himself.
No official word yet on whether Albert Haynesworth will return this week but all reports lean to him probably starting on Sunday so I’m sure you remember him from his Titans days. It would also not shock me at all to see a spare safety put out there only to make a sprint for Manning as soon as the ball is snapped.
They will pressure him, they will bring a lot of heat and they’re going to do it from multiple angles on the same play. I look to see a lot of one-on-one match-ups in the secondary because of the pressure they will try and put on Manning. That will work great if they can get to him or make their tackles. That will be a disaster if he’s able to stand up for more than three seconds.
The Redskins and Colts should provide plenty of back-and-forth football come Sunday. Each has their own obvious weaknesses and strengths, how each are exploited will determine the outcome of this game. Thank you again to Brandon Keener for involving me.