Who’s ready for this game? I’m serious. Who has been sitting around all week awaiting the day that they would see their Detroit Lions sans Matthew Stafford, Trey Flowers, dignity, Frank Ragnow, Da’Shawn Hand, respect from the rest of the league and some of their fans, with the 32nd ranked defense and without Tracy Walker go up against the arguably the worst team in football?
I have to tell you, this is a game that has a real possibility to be embarrassing. The Redskins have struggled to score touchdowns all season, and the Lions defense may be just what the doctor ordered. If you’re one of the people that hopes the Lions change their tune in terms of who runs this defense, this might be the game that somebody gets fired for.
We brought in our friend Andrew York from Hogs Haven to answer some questions about the team that could fully embarrass the Lions this weekend. But first, here’s what we know about the Redskins.
Truth be told, I don’t know much. All I know is that we can get one hell of a deal on a 1973 Vega at Rosenthal Chevrolet. I mean $1,849.00? Who cares about football right now?
We also know that the Lions have had a lot of luck against the Redskins in recent history. The Lions have won the last four games going back to 2009, including the team’s first win after the infamous 0-16 season. Good times. Let’s see what Andrew has to say.
The Redskins haven’t scored a touchdown in 16 quarters. What is going on with this team and are they prepared to end that streak against the worst defense in the league?
“I believe that stat was true before the Jets game last Sunday, but was broken when RB Derrius Guice scored a 45-yard TD on a screen pass (and subsequently TE Jeremy Sprinkle caught a short TD pass). However, it’s still true that the Redskins have one of the most anemic offenses in the NFL right now and are particularly bad in the red zone. According to Football Outsiders, we are 2nd worst in the NFL in Drive Success Rate (rate of ending a set of downs with a first down or TD).
There are lots of reasons why, but the number one reason is poor QB play. Case Keenum actually started out somewhat hot at the beginning of the year, but his performance really dropped off as he dealt with an increasing number of injuries (he has reportedly dealt with hand and foot injuries, as well as a concussion that kept him sidelined multiple games) and teams started to figure him out (he decides too much pre-snap, and telegraphs where he wants to throw the ball). The biggest reason the passing offense has looked anemic recently is that Dwayne Haskins is the starting QB. In addition to the weaknesses I enumerated earlier, the Redskins run a restricted playbook for him that is limited to plays with which he is more comfortable. That has necessitated a dependence on the run game that isn’t very common in the NFL, especially with a poor offensive line.
In addition to poor QB play, I should mention the offensive talent around QB. The best skill position player on the Redskins is third-round rookie WR Terry McLaurin, who is both a physical route runner and a speed demon and already looks like one of the steals of the draft. Outside of him, the offensive roster looks pretty barren right now. TE Jordan Reed is elite when healthy, but is never healthy, and was unable to play a single game this year due to a concussion suffered in the preseason. TE Vernon Davis is spry for his age and still an offensive weapon, but has also missed several games due to concussion. RB Adrian Peterson is still a capable rusher, but more suited to the run-heavy offenses of previous times than the pass-heavy approach most teams employ today. And RB Derrius Guice has played one full NFL game without injury in the last two years (that game being last week). In addition, the offensive line play is clearly diminished without Pro Bowl LT Trent Williams and has taken a major step back this year.”
What are the thoughts on Dwayne Haskins thus far? Is he the Redskins quarterback of the future?
“I’ll start by saying that the Redskins have preached patience with Haskins ever since drafting him. It was understood that he was a very raw (but talented) NFL prospect given that he only started one year in college. There are many nuances of the position that he is still learning. His footwork needs improvement, leading to the occasional errant throw. He has struggled even calling plays at the line of scrimmage, sometimes not getting the cadence right and provoking a false start by the offensive line. Several of the free rushers in the Redskins backfield have been due to Haskins missing blitzes and calling poor protections at the line. And Haskins has been slow to read the field and often doesn’t see wide open receivers. He also takes too many hits when he should just throw the ball away.
That being said, Haskins has noticeably improved in all of these areas over the course of the preseason and regular season. Last Sunday’s game against the Jets might not have looked impressive, but it’s the first time he’s scored 2 TDs in an NFL game. He also looked more confident in the offense and quicker at going through his progressions, even if he’s still very raw. In addition, he has a cannon for an arm and can deliver touch passes to all areas of the field. Based on what I’ve seen in interviews and heard from team sources, he also seems to have a lot of the intangibles (leadership, intelligence) that a QB needs, although there are conflicting reports on his work ethic. He hasn’t looked like an NFL starter so far, but he has the tools and has shown enough improvement that fans are not ready to give up on him. It’s way too early to say he’s the QB of the future, but I would give him the rest of the season and next season while we build the team around the QB position. I think he has enough raw talent and has shown enough promise that I’m not ready to give him the Josh Rosen treatment.”
Is this [the most] epically bad game you’ve ever prepared yourself to watch?
“Well we’ve already played the Dolphins and Jets this year, so it probably won’t even be the worst game so far this season. And as a Redskins fan, I’ve watched a lot of bad games in my time. Seriously, can you even name a starting Redskins QB from 1994 to 2012 (the year RG3 was drafted)? If so, you’re an honorary Redskins fan. And if our recent games against the Jets, Bills, Vikings, and Dolphins are any indication, the Lions should at least look good on Sunday. Jets fans entered last week’s game thinking their offense had a lot to prove and their defense was too riddled with injury to get stops. We sure proved them wrong! If anything, I would only caution you against feeling too overconfident next week after you blow out the Skins. It really doesn’t mean much.”
What player should the Lions be on the lookout for in this game?
“On offense, WR Terry McLaurin has been the best Skins player this year. Every game he does a great job of getting separation and making some amazing catches. His only weakness is that he needs someone to throw him the ball, which unfortunately is quite the Achilles heel on this team. RBs Adrian Peterson and Derrius Guice are also worth watching. Adrian Peterson still hasn’t lost his ability despite his age, and can cut and explode like a young back. However, he doesn’t offer nearly as much in pass protection or as a pass catcher. Guice is younger and has a lot to prove (started his first fully healthy NFL game last Sunday), but looked like the more explosive and versatile back last week. It will be interesting to see if they split the reps again or Guice takes over more of the workload.
On defense, the Redskins have several good players, though the unit as a whole has been underperforming. The biggest standout this year has been DT Matt Ioannidis, who has 5 sacks, 31 solo tackles, and 10 assists so far this season, all top 10 numbers at his position according to PFF. Safety Landon Collins has been a tackling machine near the line of scrimmage, though not so good in coverage. And CB Quinton Dunbar has quietly been PFF’s top graded CB over most of this season, though it hasn’t mattered due to the regression of CB Josh Norman.”
Who’s winning this thing?
“In case it hasn’t been obvious from my previous answers, I predict the Lions win by a landslide. The Redskins barely beat the Dolphins and got blown out by the Jets. Football is crazy and anything can happen, but I would be very surprised if the Redskins kept this a close game. The only possible reason I can imagine for the Redskins keeping it close is if Haskins takes a major step forward, but I don’t think that’s likely in one week. The biggest problem I have seen recently is that I think some of the Redskins players are finally starting to quit on the season. Despite the final score, I saw a lot of fight from the team in our week 5 loss to the Patriots. Last week was a different team, and it was the first time I thought some of the players looked to have packed it in, particularly on defense.”