Week 8 Keys to Victory: Washington Redskins @ NEW YORK GIANTS

By Danielle McCartan (@CoachMcCartan and www.Facebook.com/CoachMcCartan)

BERGEN COUNTY, N.J.– The 1-6 Giants are coming off a fire-sale that shipped one of the league’s most productive run-stoppers, Damon “Snacks” Harrison to the Detroit Lions (for a 2019 fifth round pick) and a cornerback in his prime years, Eli Apple, to the New Orleans Saints (for a 2019 fourth round pick and a 2020 seventh round pick). There is unrest all around the Giants’ Meadowlands and yet, New York still has a game to play on Sunday. It was rumored earlier in the week that anyone on the Giants’ defense was expendable… for the right price.

The Redskins, at 4-2, are weary of this being a trap game against a lowly division rival.  After the front office has made some major personnel moves, will the Giants be playing extra hard in order to keep themselves on the roster? Will the roster moves serve as a catalyst to get things moving in the right direction for them?

KEYS TO A GIANTS VICTORY

      1. Red Zone Scoring: Statistically, there is no malady to diagnose in terms of the Giants’ offense. For example, it has posted three consecutive 400-yard games (first time since 2011) and three 50-yard passes last week (first time since 1990).  So what’s the issue? The fact that the Giants cannot punch the ball in the end zone. Giants Head Coach Pat Shurmur said: “In five trips in the red zone, we only scored two touchdowns. If you do the math and you get them all in, that’s 35 points and that’s a respectable day at the office, and that certainly would’ve been enough to beat Atlanta. The reality of it is we get down there, now we got to finish the drives better.” It seems as though the Giants have remedied the issue of targeting players other than their studs in the end zone, but to no avail.  Odell Beckham, Jr. dropped a perfectly designed two-point conversion recently – that cannot keep happening: it’s inexcusable. Shurmur echoed that sentiment: “I think we’ve done it more to ourselves than I think teams have done it to us, and I think that’s an area where we can improve.”

     

    2. Filling in the gaps of traded players: This season, cornerback Eli Apple has yet to allow a touchdown on the season despite being targeted every 5.8 snaps in coverage. NFL Network’s Kim Jones summed up Harrison’s 2018 production.

So who is the “next-man-up”? B.W. Webb is slated to get the start in Apple’s place. Webb’s play grabbed some favorable headlines throughout training camp and in limited, regular playing time in 2018, he’s posted 15 solo tackles, 18 combined, and 3 assisted. His 1 sack came last week, when he dropped Falcons’ quarterback Matt Ryan behind the line of scrimmage. Shurmur’s assessment on Harrison’s replacements: “[Dalvin Tomlinson and B.J. Hill are] two good young players and then you add (John) Jenkins to the mix. I think those are guys that have done good work to this point. I think the front has been pretty solid in a lot of the areas, but Dalvin now will play probably more nose to replace where Snacks was, and that is sort of his natural position.”

3. Withstand the pass-rush: The statistics keep mounting as the Giants keep trying to solve their offensive line combinations like a rubix-cube: keep spinning it until it eventually works. Eli Manning has been sacked in less than 2.5 seconds a league-leading 12 times this season, five more times than the next quarterback on that list. Furthermore, the Giants are allowing pressure on 32.7 percent of pass attempts, the fourth-highest rate in the NFL according to Football Outsiders (Redskins.com). Pro Football Focus has the Giants offensive line as the second-lowest graded pass blocking unit in the entire National Football League.

Well, bad news Giants fans: throughout his career, Manning has been sacked the most times by… Redskins’ Ryan Kerrigan. “The one thing about Kerrigan is he’s tough and he’s relentless and he keeps coming. You have to block him from the first play to the last.” Add two above average, young interior defensive lineman from Alabama (Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne) and the Redskins have cooked up a recipe for disaster for the Giants offensive line.

KEYS TO A REDSKINS VICTORY

    1. Bury the Giants… early: An alarming fact surrounding the Redskins: During their last six games, they’ve scored just one touchdown in the second half.  Although they don’t put up many points in general, the Giants’ second half points (11.7) outweigh their first half points (7.9) in 2018.  The Redskins’ numbers are the exact opposite.  Washington dominates the first half (14.8 points, on average) and fall off in the second half (6.2 points).  So, in order to secure a win, the Redskins must have a fast start and make sure they control the clock/dictate the pace of play in the second half.

2. Force the Giants to throw the ball: Linebacker Preston Smith is well-prepared for his first meeting with Giants’ rookie running back Saquon Barkley: “He’s… one of the most talented backs in this league. He plays hard and physical and he gets downhill quick and he’s also elusive and he’s hard to bring down.” New York’s offense has, lately, come through rookie running back Saquon Barkley. Barkley currently leads the league with 50 broken tackles, per Football Outsiders while Washington has only allowed 10 broken tackles this year. The more the Redskins can minimize the impact Barkley has on this game- stopping him behind the line of scrimmage, knocking him off his routes, and blasting right through him when he throws a block for Manning- the better. I’ve already outlined above, what little the Giants’ offense affords Manning in terms of pass protection.

3. Third-and-Long: “Third-and-Long” will be music to the Redskins’ ears on Sunday while the Giants may be hearing “Hell’s Bells” in theirs. In 2018, the Giants are converting 69.7 percent of third-downs between one and five yards. Between six and ten yards, they convert a disastrous 25% of the time.

THE BOTTOM LINE

If the Giants don’t allow the Redskins to completely bury them by halftime, they have a chance to win this game.  For New York, the big-time players need to make big-time plays- an aspect that has been missing as of recent.  If they can do that, this is a quintessential trap game.  Giants’ defenders, especially, are playing for their jobs while those on the offensive side of the ball are playing to keep their egos in-tact. Couple that with the fact that the Redskins’ typical hot start cools at halftime and the Giants are a fourth-quarter team.

Score Prediction: Giants 21, Redskins 17

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