To be or not to be, run oriented, is the Big Question that the Washington Redskins face moving forward with newly appointed starting quarterback Kirk Cousins. There are few things in football life more difficult than staring in the face of the dilemma to replace your number one draft pick, especially when that selection is a quarterback, in a high profile media town like Washington D.C. The National Football League Week 3 schedule begins on Thursday night (CBS/NFLN, 8:25 PM ET) with the Washington Redskins (1-1) running onto the turf inside MetLife Stadium to take on the New York Giants (0-2).
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous wins,
Or to take arms against a sea of RGIII troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die to sleep;
No more; and to sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to…
The Redskins ownership, dictatorship rather, had a strong desire it verbalized since drafting Robert Griffin III , that their overall numero uno ticket in the 2012 NFL draft become the face of the Washington franchise. However, the D.C version of Wally Pipp is no longer being mentioned when the coaches and the media in Washington discuss the signal-caller position. Head coach Jay Gruden told the media after Sunday’s win over Saint Louis that Kirk Cousins was now the starting quarterback, and would be until he proved otherwise.
The Washington Redskins have quickly moved on after the pre-season Griffin drama in the team’s 2015 pre-season and while the RGIII era was supposed to be the new-look Redskins it is Cousins and his ability to hand the ball off to a running back that is fact establishing THE New identity for the Redskins.
In two starts this season, Cousins has completed nearly 76 percent of his pass attempts. The Michigan native and Spartan football star has averaged less than 200 yards passing per game in the team’s first two gridiron tests, and has thrown as many interceptions, two, as touchdowns. Regardless, one of Michigan State’s favorite sons has a strong hold on the top spot on the Skins offensive depth chart. Not only did redskins coach Gruden tell the media that Cousins was the unquestioned starter, you can hear in his voice that he trusts and believes in his field general.
“Kirk [Cousins] is “becoming more poised,” and “bouncing back from adversity like a veteran”, Gruden told the team’s official website.
It has been reflected in Gruden’s press conferences with the local and national media – that he believes Cousins is their best leader – and has been overheard talking about the young quarterback’s bottled-up potential. Gruden went on to acknowledged that his captain of choice won’t be perfect and will make his fair share of mistakes going forward, but that he’s become “mentally stronger.”
Is it safe to believe that the Redskins are “to be” the 2015 version of the John Riggins led Redskins? A run-first team that wins the battles in the trenches and wears down their opponent. Or “not to be” because of most recent changes in leadership on and off the field?
New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin met with the media on Tuesday and talked about what his players would and how his team would be preparing on Wednesday as the squad works towards taking the field for live action for the second time in five days. ESPN reported that the team returned to the Quest Diagnostics Training Center on Tuesday in advance to take part in their last full contact session as they readied themselves for the Thursday Night primetime matchup with the Washington Redskins at MetLife Stadium.
Washington Redskins at N.Y. Giants (-4, 44)
Time: 8:25 PM ET, Thursday, September 24, 2015
Venue: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey
Weather: Partly cloudy with 5 mph winds and expected temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit for kickoff
WASHINGTON REDSKINS INJURIES ( as of Tuesday, Sept 22, 2015)
Jason Hatcher DE — Did Not Participate In Practice —
DeSean Jackson WR — Did Not Participate In Practice —
Perry Riley LB — Did Not Participate In Practice —
Justin Rogers CB — Did Not Participate In Practice —
M. Spaight LB — Did Not Participate In Practice —
C. Baker DE — Full Participation in Practice —
DeAngelo Hall CB — Full Participation in Practice —
T. Knighton DT — Full Participation in Practice —
Shawn Lauvao G — Full Participation in Practice —
Lichtensteiger C — Full Participation in Practice —
Morgan Moses T — Full Participation in Practice —
Thomas Compton T — Limited Participation in Practice —
NEW YORK GIANTS INJURIES ( as of Tuesday, Sept 22, 2015)
Victor Cruz WR — Did Not Participate In Practice —
J Cunningham TE — Did Not Participate In Practice —
Ereck Flowers T — Did Not Participate In Practice —
Markus Kuhn DT — Did Not Participate In Practice —
O Odighizuwa DE — Did Not Participate In Practice —
R-Cromartie CB — Did Not Participate In Practice —
Jonathan Beason LB — Full Participation in Practice —
Daniel Fells TE — Full Participation in Practice —
Cullen Jenkins DE — Full Participation in Practice —
G. Schwartz G — Full Participation in Practice —
Robert Ayers DE — Limited Participation in Practice —
Jason Bromley DT — Limited Participation in Practice —
A lot has been made about Washington’s decision to start Cousins over Robert Griffin III, but the rally factor in this equation isn’t who the better quarterback is but which of the two has the mental makeup to lead the offense. Gruden and his staff have relied largely on their running game to control time of possession and most importantly, to score points. The Redskins have 16 fewer passes than they do rushing attempts, and they’ve registered just 56 more yards through the air than they have via the ground.
Veteran running back Alfred Morris is the team rushing leader with 180 total yards. Rookie RB Matt Jones has rushed for 151 yards on 25 attempts, and his two rushing touchdowns in the clubs Week #2 win was ultimately the difference maker in last Sunday’s win over the St Louis Rams.
The 2015 version of the Washington offense is focused on a run-first scheme that will keep opposing offenses off the field by controlling the clock and dominating the time of possession. Proof of this pudding is the Redskins having more than 37 minutes in time of possession in both Week 1 and Week 2.
Through the first two test results of the season, the Redskins lead the league in rushing with 343 total yards. Washington is the only NFL roster that has two players with at least 150 rushing yards in Morris and Jones.
Having faced the Miami Dolphins and St. Louis Rams, the Redskins defense will face their toughest challenge this early 2015 season on Thursday when they try to slow down quarterback Eli Manning and wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. This being the probably case due to the fact that statistically the Dolphins nor the Rams have a wide receiver on their roster that were equal in success each organization failing to total 800 receiving yards in 2014.
Timing is everything in life, and too in the National Football League, and New York seems to be in a tough situation playing on short reps in this Thursday Night NFL Feature event. Giants’ offensive tackle Ereck Flowers was Coughlin’s star pupil last week when he practiced through an ankle injury. During the team’s loss to Atlanta at Met Life the offensive lineman re-injuring his ankle in the loss to the Falcons and was unable to practice Tuesday remaining questionable for the G-Men’s home tilt against Washington.
“Depends,” Coughlin told the New York press on Tuesday. “Is he going to be able to function properly? Does he know exactly what he’s doing? This is a week in which you could say that anybody who can go through a jog-through can be prepared, and I think he’ll mentally be ready. But they’re going to be very conservative and make sure that he has a good grasp of the healing process.”
The information on whether Flowers will dress on Sunday is clouded. The most likely scenario is that starting left guard Justin Pugh will move to left tackle and No #2 journey-lineman John Jerry will get the starting nod at left guard. The Giants might force the run-first Redskins to look to throw the ball more in this Week #3 affair. New York starting defensive back Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie suffered a concussion in Sunday defeat and is very questionable to be cleared by the league’s head trauma protocol in time for the team’s early Thursday night contest.
There was some good news for the Giants defense when the coaching staff announced that middle linebacker Jon Beason (knee) took full reps on Tuesday and has a chance to make his 2015 season debut. New York is likely to have a full complement of blocking receivers in this NFC East event. Giants’ tight end Daniel Fells (foot) was a full participant in practice Tuesday. The team’s second tight end is arguably one of the best run blocker’s in the league and his versatility would force Gruden and his staff to be less aggressive with their end rush.
The Giants top receiver, Victor Cruz, took reps with his teammates on Tuesday but primarily from the sidelines in a limited fashion. He is still expected to be inactive for Thursday’s divisional tilt due to a lingering calf injury that has limited him for more than a month.
Tight end Jerome Cunningham (knee), defensive tackle Markis Kuhn (knee) and defensive end Owa Odighizuwa (foot) didn’t practice Tuesday. Defensive end Robert Ayers (hamstring) and defensive tackle Jay Bromley (knee) were limited. Defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins (hamstring) and guard Geoff Schwartz (illness) were full practice participants.
Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz (calf) said he will need a lot of improvement in the next two days to have any shot at playing against the Redskins on Thursday, Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News reports.
The Giants defense allowed both Tony Romo and Matt Ryan to maneuver the ball down the field. In the first game of the 2015 NFL season in Dallas on Monday night, the Giants went into the fourth quarter with a 16-13 lead over the Cowboys. The Giants were in a position to win the game because New York won the turnover battle, intercepting Dallas quarterback Tony Romo twice and also forcing a fumble.
Meanwhile, Washington’s defense has limited opposing offenses to just 20 points thus far. Credit must also be given to that resurgent running game, which has held those offenses to just 22 minutes of possession in each of the first two games.
Through the first two weeks of the season, the Skins’ running game has flourished behind Morris and Jones. Washington is playing a different brand of football than they played with RGIII behind center.
The New York defense hasn’t faced any premier running backs yet, but they’ve been one of the best stop-units in the 2015-16 season against the run. The Giants have surrendered just 136 rushing yards on 3.0 yards per carry, both of which rate, after two games, as the third best in the NFL.
The Redskins rank first overall in total defense, allowing just 469 yards after playing the Dolphins and the Rams while the Giants are second-to-last in the league, having allowed 838 yards, albeit to the Cowboys and Falcons offenses.
This Week #3 test between NFC East rivals; New York Giants vs. Washington Redskins 2015: Preview and Betting Odds for Thursday Night game is mission critical, for both teams, if either want to be considered playoff contenders this season.
Can the Skins’ new style of play lead them to their second win of the season, on Meadowlands ground, against the still-winless New York Giants? Or will the Giants secure their first “W” of the 2015 campaign in the oldest rivalry in the NFC East holding serve at MetLife Stadium Thursday night?
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