The Washington Redskins pay the New York Giants a visit this Sunday, and hope to carry over the improved offensive play displayed against New England into this week’s game.
Meanwhile, Washington’s defense, which has done a solid job this season, struggled to slow Tom Brady and the Patriots, and hope to get back on track this week against the Giants.
The odds don’t appear to be in Washington’s favor, however. This week they placed their ninth player – strong safety LaRon Landry – on injured reserve, and they could be without starting right tackle Jammal Brown, who is hobbled by a groin injury.
Here are five story lines for Washington’s Week 15 matchup with the Giants, who enter the game as seven-point favorites.
1.) Gomes’ opportunity – LaRon Landry’s season has officially come to an end as the team placed him on injured reserve. And now, the Redskins are turning to rookie DeJon Gomes, whom defensive coordinator Jim Haslett has named as his starting strong safety for the final three games of the season. “It’s just an opportunity for us to see what he can do for the future and see if he can be that guy,” Haslett said. Gomes actually started last week, had the tough assignment of accounting for Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, and came away from the game thinking that he didn’t play very well. Now he gets the chance to redeem himself and make the case to coaches that he has a bright future in Washington.
2.) Smith’s progress – Rookie Willie Smith received a fiery baptism into the NFL last week as he surrendered a sack and fumble to Andre Carter in the end zone that resulted in New England’s first touchdown. But as the game progressed, Smith improved. The East Carolina product is expected to again see significant time – and possibly start – at left tackle. The Redskins will need a strong effort from Smith, who is charged with protecting Rex Grossman’s blind side as Washington takes on a Giants defense that ranks sixth in the league with 36 sacks.
3.) Helu’s streak – Rookie running back Roy Helu has provided one of the few bright spots for the Redskins in the last three weeks, and on Sunday, he’ll go for his fourth consecutive 100-yard rushing game. The Redskins offense is at its best when the team is able to put together a balanced attack and use a strong running game to set up big gains through the play action attack.
4.) Hall’s follow-up – DeAngelo Hall has never been a shut-down corner, but he’s always prided himself on being a playmaker. Last week against the Patriots he looked nothing like a playmaker, nor a leader as he gave up on a crucial first-quarter play, and later cost his team 20 yards when he was called for defensive holding and then picked up the flag and threw it upfield (and this wasn’t the first hot-headed incident/poorly-played game of the season for Hall). Mike Shanahan said that Hall – as well as the entire team – was embarrassed by his performance against New England, but Hall has ducked reporters all week, so it’s hard to say what his mind-set is. But, he’s likely aiming to redeem himself with a strong performance for his team against he Giants. How will No. 23 bounce back?
5.) Improved Eli Manning – Everyone from Mike Shanahan to Barry Cofield say that Eli Manning – already a good quarterback – has taken the next step this season and points out how he is carrying the Giants this season. In addition to putting up career-best numbers, making better decisions, getting rid of the ball more quickly and taking fewer sacks, Manning has proven clutch late in games. He has directed six fourth-quarter comebacks this season. The Redskins hope to continue the offensive progression they have displayed the last several weeks, so if this game happens to come down to the final quarter, it’ll be interesting to see if Washington can find an answer for the Giants QB.
More on the top story lines for Redskins vs. Giants: