Tha Sports Junkies 101

Washington Redskins Week 7 Preview: Silencing the Naysayers

lions Keith Allison


Next up for the Washington Redskins, a road contest against the Detroit Lions. Winners of their past four games, the streaking Redskins look to extend that streak to five against the Lions on Sunday.

The Washington Redskins won’t admit it but they needed to hear the words of Steven A. Smith before their game against the Detroit Lions. Following a huge division win, Redskins defensive linemen Chris Baker and Ricky Jean-Francois expressed their pleasure with the victory.

The two were clearly emotional after the game as Washington had just defeated a division rival, en route to winning its fourth game in a row. The defense limited the Philadelphia Eagles offense to just three points and 239 Head coach Jay Gruden defended his players to the fullest extent on Wednesday.

“I know [Smith] does a good job with what he does, but he doesn’t know our team. He doesn’t know our coaches. He doesn’t know our fan base. And for him to call us all losers is out of line by him because he doesn’t know Jamison Crowder, Jordan Reed, Morgan Moses, Brandon Scherff, Will Blackmon and Ryan Kerrigan. He doesn’t know the type of work these guys put in, the type of players they are, the type of people they are, the coaching staff that we have. Hopefully we’ll put an end to it here shortly and it’ll all blow over, like most of these media things do.”

Like most members of the national media, Steven A. Smith views the Redskins as a team still being ran by a meddling owner, with a roster full of overpriced veterans marred in controversy. Since Scot McCloughan took over at General Manager, the Redskins have been strictly about football. Winning championships matter in professional sports and the Redskins take pride in being defending NFC East champions.

“We do take it personally,” Gruden said. “You have to, if people call you out like that, but you also have to understand that when somebody calls you out like that, and they don’t know anything about what we’ve done and what we’ve been through together and the work that they’ve put in, you don’t really take too much account in it. It bothers me because he’s calling my guys that. If he wants to call me that, that’s fine. But when he starts talking about the players and the staff and the ownership, all the people who work so hard in this building, it bothers you.”

Now those same comments are being used as fuel for the fire. The Redskins are now 11-5 in their past 16 games. Including winners of five straight road games. To extend that streak to six, Washington will have to contend with Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions.


Strength of the Wolfpack

Before the start of the season, Joe Barry and the Redskins defense embraced a “Wolfpack Mentality”. Surprisingly, the Redskins defense has been a huge catalyst on the four game win streak. The defense has allowed a total of 15 points in the second half since week three. Third down woes have also subsided. The past two weeks, Washington limited the Eagles to 4/12 (33 percent) and the Ravens to 3/15 (20 percent). The Skins’ had a 57 percent third down conversion rate on defense within the first four weeks.

The pass rush is now becoming a factor. After a five sack performance against the Eagles, the defense is tied for 5th in the NFL. The Detroit Lions have allowed 15 sacks through six games. They’re 25th in that category.

The secondary will be tested by Matthew Stafford. Not only does Stafford has a 3-0 career record against the Redskins, he’s playing the best football of his career. Stafford has completed 146-212 passes (68.9 percent) for 1,648 yards, 14 touchdowns and four interceptions. Stafford is also averaging 7.77 yards per attempt and 6.95 yards per dropback. Those are both career bests for the young gunslinger.

Hogs 2.0

The rushing attack has new life after their performance against the Eagles. The Redskins average 4.8 yards per carry, which ties them for third in the NFL. Matt Jones has shown drastic improvements in his second year. Jones has nearly matched his rushing statistics from last season. Jones has 433 yards  on 89 carries to go along with 3 rushing touchdowns. More importantly Jones averages 4.9 yards per carry. He averaged 3.4 his rookie season. Running backs Chris Thompson and Robert Kelley also average over 4.5 yards per carry.

The play of the offensive line has been solid all season in the run game and in pass protection. Kirk Cousins is the second-least sacked quarterback in the NFL. Spencer Long has done a tremendous job filling in for the injured Kory Lichtensteiger. Tackles Morgan Moses and Trent Williams continue solidify the tackle spots. Guard Shawn Lauvao is playing at the level the Redskins hoped for when they signed him as a free agent two seasons ago. Brandon Scherff had the finest game of his young career against All-Pro Fletcher Cox last week. The offensive line has probably one of the more consistent and underrated units in Washington.

Homecoming for Kirk Cousins

Kirk Cousins starred at Michigan State and is a native of Holland, Michigan. As he returns to Michigan, he’ll face a Detroit Lions defense that is 25th in total defense. (21st against the pass 21st. against the run) Cousins should be able to take advantage of the porous Lions defense.

He has yet to have a game with strong numbers and no turnovers, however that could change against Detroit. The Lions allowed 387 yards and 28 points to a Rams offense last week that ranks 28th in points scored and 31st in total yards. This is the week that the play of Kirk Cousins finally propels the Redskins. Washington 34 Detroit 21.