The Redskins are mired in a bit of a tailspin at the moment. Losers of six in a row, no QBOTF in sight, injuries piling up, fan base naturally clamoring for answers and looking for something to give them hope.
They do have a storied history in Washington, and I do believe they're going in the right direction, if slowly. I really liked, for the most part, their Draft from this year - Ryan Kerrigan, Jarvis Jenkins, Roy Helu, Leonard Hankerson - I think they're actually fairly similar to the Seahawks in some regards and might be a QB and one or two core players away from being pretty dangerous.
It is the NFL afterall, and this is a league where even Rex Grossman can surprise you on any given Sunday. I traded some scouting reports with Kevin Ewoldt, editor of Hogs Haven, the SBN Redskins site, and he shared some of the feelings I figured Redskins' fans might have, along with some notes on what to look for.
DK: What has been the biggest difference in the team from the 3-1 start to the slide they're in now? What might you attribute the lack of success to?
Kevin Ewoldt: Injuries. We didn't have a powerhouse offense to start with, but losing the team's two best WRs, Santana Moss (broken hand) and Chris Cooley (IR knee) have been devastating. Moss is the Redskins purest route runner and Cooley is one of the best in the business at getting open, not to mention blocking.
Tim Hightower was having a stellar year both rushing the ball and in pass protection (until he tore his ACL). To make matters worse, the OLine took a huge hit when Left Guard Kory Lichtensteiger tore his ACL and MCL. He was our best run blocker, and due to the lack of depth, Shanahan had to move Center Will Montgomery to Guard and start basically a rookie at Center. The Skins have since moved Montgomery back to Center, but it's been a revolving door of injuries at LG with backup Maurice Hurt injured as well.
DK: On offense, what is your biggest strength and biggest weakness?
Kevin Ewoldt: Ah man, you went there. There really are no strengths. There's no speed at the WR position and the running game has four flat tires. Fred Davis is a quality TE and is easily the Redskins best threat, but teams focus on him with the Redskins inability to run the ball. And that's the biggest weakness - rushing.
The last time the Redskins had a RB that rushed for over 41 yards was five weeks ago, and it was Tim Hightower. The Redskins have played HORRIBLE run defense teams like the Bills and Panthers and still had zero success. The staff is aware it's a problem, but it's tough to win games when the offense can't stay on the field.
DK: On defense, you pass rush has been extremely effective. How have the Redskins managed to get to the quarterback so well?
Kevin Ewoldt: The Redskins defense, which ranked in the bottom of the NFL last year, was part of a huge off-season overhaul. Via free agency, Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan signed Nose Tackle Barry Cofield, who has done a stellar job at being disruptive enough to garner double teams. With Stephen Bowen, who the Skins signed from Dallas, on one side and Adam Carriker on the other, this means either 1st round pick, Ryan Kerrigan, or Brian Orakpo is getting single-teamed. When that happens 40 times a game, pressure will be coming. The Redskins also signed O.J. Atogwe and Josh Wilson to beef up the secondary. Although their contributions can't be seen on stat sheets, they're an upgrade from last year.
DK: What are the main weaknesses for your defense? Anything you can see the Seahawks trying to exploit?
Kevin Ewoldt: The Redskins defense's biggest weakness is the Redskins offense. It's not hard to do, but if the Hawks defense keep the 3-and-out train rolling vs Grossman, Pete Carroll will get some points from the field advantage battle. In addition, the Redskins pass-rushers won't be chasing anyone from behind, so if Jackson can buy time and space, that's all it takes for the secondary to fall apart. Romo does this everygame the Skins play him. Overall though, the defense is pretty solid.
DK: Score prediction, and why?
Kevin Ewoldt: I seriously can't fathom this once proud franchise losing SEVEN games in a row. The Redskins put together some quality drives, and the Seahawks aren't exactly scary. In addition, for this game, we don't have Mike Sellers instigating the Hawks fans in what is an already very loud stadium.
I think the Redskins defense creates turnovers with sacks and fumbles and the field position battle is enough for Rex Grossman. Redskins 17 - Seahawks 9. (Beware of kick returner Brandon Banks).
Big thanks to Kevin for trading scouting reports and make sure to go check out Hogs Haven before the game for more scouting.