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Redskins–Giants: Game Balls, Gassers and Observations — Offense
LT Trent Williams: Williams’ poor performance was stunning considering he showed such promise in training camp and the preseason. Giants second-string DE Jason Pierre-Paul, who started in place of Justin Tuck, beat him often. It was Heyer-esque and belied Williams’ status as a fourth-overall pick entering his second season.
Pierre-Paul successfully mixed up his pass-rushing moves, and Williams has a tendency to get beaten by the change up. Williams said last week that he watched a good amount of preseason film on Pierre-Paul, but that wasn’t evident.
After consistently challenging Williams to the outside, Pierre-Paul in the fourth quarter gave him a head fake out, causing Williams to set prematurely and reach. Pierre-Paul exploded inside, while Williams was off balance. He sacked QB Rex Grossman and forced a fumble. On the first sack Williams allowed, Pierre-Paul got into his chest with a bull rush, and Williams slipped when he tried to anchor.
Williams was a liability in the running game, too, and a big reason why RB Tim Hightower had few holes to work with. Pierre-Paul consistently set the edge with his strength and leverage advantage, which limited Hightower’s ability to set up cutback lanes or get around the corner. Williams should go ahead and circle Dec. 18 on his calendar because he has a lot to prove in the rematch against New York.
RT Jammal Brown: Brown often gets away with swallowing pass rushers who get their hands inside his, but that wasn’t the case against second-string DE Dave Tollefson, who started in place of two-time Pro Bowler Justin Tuck. Tollefson was able to get into Brown and push the pocket several times. And on the Redskins’ first series, LB/DE Mathias Kiwanuka beat Brown with a speed rush when Brown was slow getting off the snap and couldn’t move his feet in time to recover.
Tollefson did get past Brown for a sack in the third quarter, but I hesitate to place the blame on Brown. The Giants blitzed seven on the play, and Grossman took the shotgun snap and immediately ran outside the pocket. Brown’s set was narrow enough that it appeared he didn’t expect Grossman to be that wide. It’s worth looking into, at least.
K Graham Gano: You’ve heard of “Good Rex” and “Bad Rex.” How about Good and Bad Graham? Apparently Good Graham stayed in the preseason. After making all 10 of his field goals in exhibition play, Gano pushed a 39-yarder when it counted.
It’s one thing to miss field goals for a 6-10 team that has no chance of contending. But if the Redskins are legit — and, yes, this was only one win — they need a reliable kicker.
The Giants’ defensive line is a very bad matchup for the Redskins. That’s nothing new – it’s why New York won the previous six meetings. But we saw the evidence again on Sunday. The Giants’ power trumped the Redskins’ speed and athleticism. The entire Redskins’ line struggled to win individual blocks in the run game, and they had trouble holding their ground moving laterally on stretch plays. LT Trent Williams, RT Jammal Brown and TE Fred Davis failed to consistently set the edge, and that forced RB Tim Hightower to cut too early at times.
I was a bit surprised offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan didn’t call more keepers to move the pocket and get QB Rex Grossman into space. Then again, getting outside is John Beck’s strength, not Grossman’s. In addition, rolling the quarterback out can take away parts of the field. Still, I wonder if the running game would have been more effective, especially late, if the Redskins had run the Giants sideline to sideline more throughout the game. The Giants’ front four didn’t seem to wear down. Just something to keep in mind for the rematch in December.
The offensive line was inconsistent in individual blocking matchups, just as it was in the preseason. For example, LG Kory Lichtensteiger and C Will Montgomery picked up a stunt on the third-and-2 on Armstrong’s diving catch. But Lichtensteiger also surrendered a sack in the first quarter after DT Chris Canty swiped his hands and got to his outside shoulder.
Again, the Redskins won’t face defensive lines as good as the Giants’ every week, but it’s ultimately a standard by which they’ll be measured. Despite winning the game on Sunday, there’s much room for improvement.
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About the Author
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