Much of the discussion this week has been on whether or not Robert Griffin III will play against the Browns. Odds are that we probably won't have a definitive answer until two hours before kickoff. Therefore, this week's scouting report will focus less on the loss of Griffin and more on the rest of the players on Washington.
#1 - The Impact of Alfred Morris: So much has been said about the impact that Robert Griffin III has had on the Redskins' offense this year, but sixth-round rookie running back Alfred Morris has been impressive in his own right. He has averaged 4.9 yards per carry on the season and seems like it's a given that he will eclipse the 100-yard plateau more times than not. The drawback when Morris is in the game is that Washington doesn't throw the ball to him very often; he only has 11 receptions on the season. Morris does a great job in the Redskins' zone blocking scheme and option offense, but like the rest of the team on offense, you have to wonder how much success he can have if Griffin ends up being sidelined. Even if Kirk Cousins makes the start, you can bet that Morris will remain a focal point of Washington's gameplan.
#2 - Beware the Threat of Pierre Garcon: The Browns were interested in Pierre Garcon, and thankfully, the Redskins ended up overpaying for him so we didn't have to. To Garcon's credit, he has come up big during the Redskins' four-game winning streak, which is about the same time he finally got over his foot injury. Over the past three games, Garcon has 26 receptions for 275 yards and 3 touchdowns. Garcon hasn't really been a slot receiver, so it should be expected that Joe Haden will have the responsibility of shadowing him. This will be the biggest threat Haden has faced in weeks, and he'll have to make sure he's prepared to match Garcon's speed whenever Washington goes for the long ball. After Garcon, the Redskins regularly rotate between Josh Morgan, Leonard Hankerson, and Santana Moss at receiver.
#3 - Pass Defense and DeAngelo Hall: Even though our Redskins affiliate says that Washington's defense is improving, there are still a lot of issues with their pass defense. The Redskins have the 31st-ranked pass defense in the league, which is worse than any other team Cleveland has faced this season. While the Redskins were big spenders in free agency this past offseason, they didn't have enough money to improve their secondary, and it has cost them. The secondary appears to give up a lot of yards in chunks, and one of the liabilities is cornerback DeAngeo Hall. While Hall is a playmaker, he is often a liability in man-to-man coverage and it would be great to see Josh Gordon streak against him a few times.
#4 - Other Defensive Stats to be Aware Of: While the Redskins struggle against the pass, they have been better against the run, allowing less than 100 yards rushing per game. They have been terrible at stopping teams on third down, though, presumably due to their pass defense (they rank 32nd in the league in that category). Washington doesn't sack teams very often, but they've been able to create turnovers. The Redskins' best two defenders are left outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan (who leads the team with 6.5 sacks) and left inside linebacker London Fletcher (who leads the team in tackles and has 3 interceptions). The Redskins are yielding 28.3 points per game on the road versus 22.7 points per game at home.
#5 - Special Teams Overview: One of the best decisions the Redskins ended up making was dumping kicker Billy Cundiff after five games and going with Kai Forbath instead. In eight games, Forbath is a perfect 14-of-14 on field goals, including 9-of-9 from beyond 40 yards. Punter Saverio Rocca is near the bottom of the league in net average on punts, but quite as low as Reggie Hodges. The Redskins really don't specialize in the return game; they are around the league average on kickoff and punt returns and don't have a return touchdown this season. They have been better in coverage, where they are 5th in the league at covering punts and 14th in the league at covering kickoffs.