X

New York Giants vs. Washington Redskins: What's the Game Plan for Washington?

Marcel Davis@@Mar_CelDavis24Correspondent INovember 28, 2015

Losers in the last five matchups, the Redskins have been pushovers against the Giants.
Losers in the last five matchups, the Redskins have been pushovers against the Giants.Kathy Willens/Associated Press

Depending on your outlook, consistency, or lack thereof, has been the hallmark of the Washington Redskins' 2015 campaign.

The team is winless on the road and against opponents with winning records. Furthermore, it has yet to string together back-to-back wins.

Oh, and let's not forget, its Week 12 opponent, the New York Giants, is riding a five-game winning streak in this series.

On the other side of things, the Redskins are 4-1 at home, with their lone loss coming in the season opener.

With Washington's NFC East counterpart coming to D.C., something has to give.

Which streak will it be?

Let's find out. Here's the Redskins' Week 12 game plan.

Offensive Game Plan

Cousins will have to shoulder the offensive load in Week 12.
Cousins will have to shoulder the offensive load in Week 12.Bob Leverone/Associated Press

Reviving the running game is surely on the agenda of head coach Jay Gruden. Let's not kid ourselves, though, the Redskins have shown little over the past month of the season to indicate they'll get out of their current rut. 

Video Play Button
Videos you might like

Excluding its reprieve—the New Orleans Saints—from playing NFL-caliber defenses, Washington has managed 186 yards total on the ground in four games. 

Don't expect this to change against the Giants. At full strength, its offensive line struggled to pave running lanes back in Week 3.

It's often been the case against New York because of a large deficit, but from the onset this puts the offensive load solely on Kirk Cousins.

Consistency has been an issue for him over the course of his four-year career, but not against the Giants. He's been consistently bad in this divisional matchup.

He has two touchdowns to eight interceptions against this opponent. Even so, there's reason to believe Cousins can have a turnaround here. New York has the NFL's worst pass defense and is particularly susceptible to the big play.

It's surrendered 39 receptions of 20-plus yards (27th) and seven completions over 40 yards. Throwing downfield hasn't been Cousins' forte in 2015. He's completed just five of 31 passes thrown over 20 yards.

At the same time, he's lacked a deep threat all year in the wake of DeSean Jackson's season-opening injury. With Jackson back, in each of the past two games, the duo has connected on a completion over 40 yards. 

Knowing New York also ranks last in sacks, the opportunity will present itself for Cousins to garner big plays in the short passing game as well, with the Giants needing to blitz to generate pressure.

Defensive Game Plan

Manning has owned the Redskins during his career.
Manning has owned the Redskins during his career.Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

Defensive coordinator Joe Barry's game plan for handling the NFL's No. 4 scoring offense starts and ends with Eli Manning.

This may come as a surprise, seeing as how teams have ran the football at will against Washington's 28th-ranked run defense. Thing is, its opponents don't have Manning's track record against this defense.

Manning is 16-6 against the Redskins for his career. And during his personal five-game winning streak over the Skins, he has 11 touchdowns to three interceptions.

To put an end to his string of successes, Barry will have to implement a different method from the one he utilized in Week 3. Washington defensive backs conceded short throws to Manning, and he promptly completed over 70 percent of his attempts. 

Given the state of New York's offensive line, a more prudent approach this time around would be press coverage with a heavy dose of blitzes. As ESPN's John Keim noted, starters Justin Pugh and Weston Richburg are dealing with injuries.

A 64 percent passer on the season, Manning is completing 59.7 percent of his passes against the blitz, with three touchdowns and one interception, according to ESPN.com.

Chris Culliver's absence registers as a blow for Washington here, as over 80 percent of Manning's attempts have come in three-receiver sets.

Still, given the solid play the team's received from the likes of Will Blackmon and Kyshoen Jarrett, this is an approach the defense can feel comfortable with, as the Giants don't exhibit much balance in the passing game. 

Odell Beckham Jr. is first on the team in receptions (63) and targets (104) by a large margin. Rueben Randle is the second-leading receiver with just 39 catches and 55 targets.

Factor in Larry Donnell's absence, per CBSSports.com, and the Skins don't have much guesswork when it comes to locating where Manning will be throwing the ball.

Key Players and Matchups

Washington secondary vs. WR Odell Beckham Jr.

Washington will have to cover Beckham by committee in the wake of Culliver's injury.
Washington will have to cover Beckham by committee in the wake of Culliver's injury.Bob Leverone/Associated Press

With Culliver no longer available to trail Beckham, the Redskins will have to look to limit the sophomore standout by committee.

New York flexes Beckham out at various positions, meaning Bashaud Breeland, Blackmon and Jarrett will all likely see time covering him. 

The key here, though, is to make sure they're not alone in this assignment. What makes Beckham such a threat is his ability to register big plays both down the field and after the catch.

With that said, Washington's safeties will need to provide help defense over the top with the corners pressing at the line of scrimmage.

Redskins Offensive Line vs. New York Pass Rush

Pierre-Paul has infused life into New York's dormant pass rush since his return.
Pierre-Paul has infused life into New York's dormant pass rush since his return.Brian Blanco/Associated Press

With Cousins needing time to survey his options downfield, the Redskins' offensive line has to hold up in pass protection. This hasn't been a problem the majority of the year (17 sacks allowed). But with injuries taking a toll, protection has waned as of late.

Carolina sacked Cousins five times in Week 11. And entering this bout, star tackle Trent Williams is nursing a knee injury.

New York's pass rush isn't on par with the Panthers', but it has improved with Jason Pierre-Paul in the lineup. Since his return, the Giants have tallied three sacks and 13 quarterback hits.

To expose a suspect Giants secondary, this is a matchup Washington has to win.

Prediction

You hear it on a weekly basis in the NFL. This game will be decided at the quarterback position.

With history providing some insight, Manning and the Giants have the clear edge here. 

Manning is having a career year, and the Redskins have neither the pass rush nor secondary to slow his pace. New York is lacking in this area as well on defense. But unlike Manning, Cousins has yet to discover how to stop being his worst enemy.

While he's made strides in this arena, Cousins ultimately reverts to the mean when the stakes are raised. With Washington's playoff livelihood in the balance, the stakes are just that in Week 12.

With turnovers serving as the backdrop of yet another Redskins defeat, the Giants will seize control of the NFC East with their sixth consecutive win in the series.

Final Score: Giants 27, Redskins 20

slash iconYour sports. Delivered.

Enjoy our content? Join our newsletter to get the latest in sports news delivered straight to your inbox!