NEPD Staff Writer: Doug Kyed
Some things never cease to amaze me about the NFL. No. 1 on this list at times is talent evaluation. Seriously, how many people not named Mike or Kyle Shanahan thought the Redskins could be competitive in the NFC East with Sexy Rexy and Sexy… Beck-sy? I don’t see any theoretical hands raised.
So now the Redskins are exactly where all NFL fans thought they would be in early December and the Patriots get to play them to prep for the playoffs. This should not be a difficult game for the Patriots. I fully expect them to win, so I figured I might do something different for this week’s pre game column. I’m going to highlight some of the best and worst players on the Redskins that the Patriots might have to watch out for:
BRIAN ORAKPO/RYAN KERRIGAN
Matt Light, Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer, if he’s healthy, will have their hands full with these two. Orakpo has 7 sacks and 33 pressures on the season while Kerrigan has 8 sacks and 25 pressures. They’re two of the elite rush linebackers in the league and they’ve been no slouches against the run either. Paired with London Fletcher and Perry Riley, they form one of the best linebacker crews in the league.
THE DEFENSIVE LINE
Unfortunately for the Redskins, the rest of their front seven has been pretty weak this season. Barry Cofield has struggled in his transition to nose tackle, and Stephen Bowen, another free agent has also struggled in Washington as a starter. With Adam Carriker manning LE, the talent is there along the defensive line, but the production has been lacking.
Last year, Trent Williams was pretty much a disaster as a rookie starting left tackle. He allowed eleven sacks, 24 QB pressures and committed six penalties. This year he’s fared much better, being rated a top ten left tackle in the league. He’s allowed only two sacks (both in his first game against New York), thirteen QB pressures and eight penalties.
But what does all of this mean? Nothing. Trent Williams and Fred Davis were suspended for the rest of the season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. The Redskins were already really bad, but losing their best offensive lineman and best pass catcher really hurts.
THE REST OF THE OFFENSIVE LINE
Anyone on the offensive line not named Trent Williams on the other hand, has been beyond horrible. The Redskins lost Kory Lichtensteiger in week six, and while Lichtensteiger wasn’t exactly Logan Mankins, it was a big loss for the Redskins. When Lichtensteiger went down, Will Montgomery slid over to LG from center and Erik Cook went in at center. Lately, Montgomery slid back over to center and Maurice Hurt has been playing left guard. None of them have been good.
The right side of the line has been the worst. Pro football focus has Jammal Brown rated as the fourth worst RT in football Chris Chester as the fourth worst RG in football. This year, the left side will be horrible too without Williams. Sean Locklear will fill in at LT where he played for three games this season. In five total games this year, Locklear has allowed 12 pressures and four sacks. Rex Grossman, watch out.
The offensive line has allowed 154 total pressures in 761 offensive snaps this season, or 20.2% of snaps. To put that in context, the Patriots have allowed 105 total pressures in 803 offensive snaps this season, or 13.1% of snaps. The Redskins offensive line has allowed the fourth most sacks, the second most QB hits and the fifth most QB pressures.
What does this all mean? The Patriots have no excuse in the pass rush this week. If Andre Carter, Mark Anderson, Rob Ninkovich, Vince Wilfork, Brandon Deaderick, Kyle Love, etc. can’t get after Rex Grossman this week, the Patriots are in big trouble come playoff time. They will not face a weaker offensive line this season.
THE REST OF THE BEST
Laron Landry – one of the best strong safeties in the league, but he might not play due to a groin injury.
Roy Helu – An impressive rookie running back, the Patriots should be able to stack the line and let Sexy Rexy throw all game. As I said before, the Patriots defense should be able to get after Grossman and if they’re not sacking him, they should at least be able to disrupt him enough to force some turnovers. The Patriots are built for stopping the run, they should have no problem stopping Helu.
Santana Moss – He’s really Grossman’s only great weapon left. I’m expecting to see Kyle Arrington and a safety on Moss the whole game. Stopping Moss forces throws to Jabar Gaffney, David Anderson, Niles Paul, Donte Stallworth and Anthony Armstrong. That’s not an impressive bunch.
THE REST OF THE WORST
Rex Grossman – Here are some fun stats from PFF: Grossman has the 2nd fewest dropped passes among starting QBs and still has a 57.9 completion percentage. So, no blaming the WRs there, despite not starting three games, Grossman has the 16th most deep passes and the most interceptions on passes that travel 20 yards or over.
One good thing about Grossman is despite his horrible offensive line, he’s actually been pretty good at evading sacks, unfortunately, he usually just turns the ball over instead. Grossman only has one sack that was “his fault” and only 2 QB hits and pressures that were his fault.
Kevin Barnes – Barnes is typically the Skins slot corner, if he’s forced to cover Wes Welker at all on Sunday, we could be seeing one of Wes’ patented 11 catch, 120 yard games.