- The Washington Times - Friday, October 21, 2016

If the NFL knows one thing about Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, it’s that the 28-year-old loves to throw the ball.

Since entering the league in 2009, Stafford has compiled 27,624 yards. He’s one of just five quarterbacks that have thrown for more than 5,000 yards in a single season, and Stafford became the fastest quarterback in NFL history to throw for 25,000 yards, doing so in just 90 games.

Outside of Stafford’s arm, he has one other relatively underrated skill set in his arsenal.

“He has good feet,” Redskins cornerback Josh Norman said. “That’s the thing that most people don’t realize. He can get out of the pocket and scramble for that third-and-10 or third-and-13. He’s not going to sit back there like a sitting duck. He’s moving, he’s getting out of the pocket and he’s moving defenders.”

Though that makes things a bit more difficult for the Redskins defense, Washington’s improved pass rush could counter Stafford. Over the last two games, the Redskins have compiled eight sacks, including 3.5 from outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan and 1 from defensive end Trent Murphy.

“You know, it’s going to be a battle,” Lions head coach Jim Caldwell said. “I mean, obviously Kerrigan on the outside, that’s putting pressure on quarterbacks. And Murphy comes in and does the same. I mean, all across the board, they are very, very good upfront.”

That pressure will help the Redskins secondary contain the Lions elite receiving unit. Anquan Boldin works in as a third receiver, and with 244 yards and three touchdowns, the Redskins defense must be aware of where he is on the field. Golden Tate has had a shaky season, but he caught his first touchdown of the year last week against the Los Angeles Rams and had 165 receiving yards. One other receiver has tried to step in for the retired Calvin Johnson.

“Marvin Jones has become that [bonafide receiver] for [Stafford] if you watch the film,” safety Donte Whitner Sr. said. “A lot of ‘go’ balls, he’s making a lot of plays. I think he had over 200-plus yards [in one game]. So, he’s a big weapon. I played with him in my last two years at Cincinnati. He’s a long, lanky guy. Good speed, good ball skills, so we have to know where he is.”

So far this season, Jones has 529 receiving yards and four touchdowns. That’s the seventh-most yards among NFL receivers this season and tied for the sixth-most touchdowns.

Jones will likely see a healthy dose of Norman in the matchup. But with Bashaud Breeland returning from an ankle injury, the Redskins will once again be able to place their top corners against one of the more lethal passing attacks.

“It’s going to be great,” Jones said of lining up against both Norman and Breeland. “They’re a hard working bunch and obviously Norman’s one of the best in the league, so, as a receiver, trying to be great and having high expectations, you want to go against one of the top DBs. It’s going to be a good battle.”

 


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