I was pleased to be joined by Kevin Ewoldt from Hogs Haven, our Washington Redskins affiliate, to preview Sunday's game against Cleveland. Kevin talked about why the Redskins' defense has improved recently, who some of the team's lower-depth playmakers are, if the Redskins would be one of the league's worst teams without RG III, and more.
Chris: "What do you think the chances of RG III playing this week are?"
Kevin: "All the Redskins beat writers think he'll play...personally, I think he rests. For a QB that depends so much on cutting and planting, I think it's wise to let that LCL ligament properly heal. If anything were to happen to RGIII's knee, a 9-month healing process means he'd miss most, if not all of training camp next year. RGIII has said he wants to play, so it'll be interesting."
Chris: "Early in the season, I had the impression that the Redskins' defense was among the worst in the league, and that it would prevent Washington from contending in the long run. Lately, that seems to have changed. Is there a reason for this, or was my initial impression just way off?"
Kevin: "Your impression is correct.The Redskins were levied a $36 million salary cap penalty just hours before the start of NFL free agency. Can you imagine being a GM trying to modify your plan? In short, the Redskins had no $ left over from signing Garcon and Josh Morgan to fix their safeties (both Atogwe and Landry were out). So, the Redskins went dumpster diving and came back with Madieu WIlliams, Brandon Meriweather (1-game to IR), and Tanard Jackson (0 games, suspended indefinitely). Madieu is basically the only guy that has played and he is VERY slow. Haslett used a zone scheme defense and the Redskins were continually getting beat over the top as a result.
A few weeks ago (players and fans were calling for this change week 2), Haz switched to man coverage and things have been better. The Redskins give up a ton of yards passing, but their red zone defense has been solid as has the rushing defense. Losing Adam Carriker and Brian Orakpo were big blows...their backups took some time to get into their grooves as well."
Chris: "True or False: if the Redskins never got RG III (or Andrew Luck), they would in the same boat as Kansas City, Oakland, and Jacksonville right now."
Kevin: "100% true. Without RGIII, the Redskins have Grossman or some other QB behind a subpar offfensive line. Defenses have still not found a way to stop this offense yet and RGIII's ability to put up points is the reason the Redskins have seven wins."
Chris: "After Alfred Morris, RG III, and Pierre Garcon, it seems like the Redskins have a lot of players who they mix-and-match when it comes to receivers, tight ends, and running backs. Besides those three guys, which offensive player (not a lineman) has stood out as a player who fans really like? Is it still Santana Moss, or has another youngster risen?"
Kevin: "Santana Moss is definitely that guy. I mean....check out the moves on this TD earlier this year. Moss can do no wrong in this city with all the scoring he's done over his career. Aldrick Robinson has been promising as well. He's a real speedster and has shredded teams when playing for Garcon. Garcon of course is a level above though. Leonard Hankerson is an interesting WR as well. He broke all the receiving records at Miami but can't crack the starting lineup despite making some long TDs. He doesn't fancy going over the middle and the Redskins lead the NFL in passing attempts over the middle."
Chris: "Based on fan reaction from Hogs Haven, your local radio shows, or other Redskins fans in general, be honest: are fans chalking this up as a win for Washington this week?"
Kevin: "Definitely not! The Redskins are notorious for losing to bad teams. The Rams beat the Redskins practically every year and I'll never forget the Redskins being the team the Lions broke that 0-2800 games lost streak against (or whatever it was). The Browns have some playmakers and even when the schedule first came out this summer, Skins fans all circled this one as a trap game."
Thanks again to Kevin for joining me.