1. OK, so I watched the Giants play the Panthers and a few things stuck out. I know the Giants faced the zone read, but it is not the same and Robert Griffin III runs it a little differently than Cam Newton. Not that Newton is bad at it, but Griffin looks like he sells the fakes a little better at times and his footwork on the zone read pass is quicker. Griffin hops back around; Newton sort of turns his feet around.
2. I also noticed that when Newton runs the zone read pass, he keeps his eyes downfield at his intended target. A couple times I didn’t see the linebackers bite hard because of this. And I saw Jason Pierre-Paul read him and get ready to jump and, indeed, he batted the pass. When Griffin runs it, he doesn’t do the same thing and is therefore a little tougher to read. Is this legit? Talked to some with the Redskins who said nope. They would know. And I think this could be a case of stretching to find a difference. However, what you also see on tape is that Griffin has more options off the zone read and that’s where it’ll get tricky for the Giants. Ultimately, that is the major difference.
3. Here’s what nose tackle Barry Cofield said about the difference (he obviously played Newton last year and faced Griffin every day this summer):
“It’s not the same. It’s almost like a tight end playing quarterback vs. a receiver. Carolina employs Cam more in the red zone. He’s a finisher. But he’s not a consistent run threat throughout the field. The dynamic in the run game is different. They use a more traditional run game and then they have a guy who’s athletic who can hurt you in the red zone. Robert’s a threat all the time. Robert’s a scrambler. Cam is looking to throw the ball down the field. It’s completely different. I don’t think playing against Cam prepares you for playing against Robert.
“I just think it’s more difficult against our offense because of the deception and knowing who has the ball. In camp I remember not knowing where the ball was. I didn’t know if he was taking it himself or throwing it. It’s more deceptive and Robert is just faster and a more explosive athlete.”
4. If you’re a defensive line that likes to “pin its ears back” and get after the quarterback, it’s tough to face the Redskins because of the multiple options and misdirection they throw at a team.
5. While the Redskins fared well vs. the Giants’ offensive line last year, the players know this is a much different group than what they faced in 2011.
6. No one should start talking NFC East titles after seven games if the Redskins should win Sunday in New York. There are too many examples of crash-and-burns in recent history. But, obviously, a win would be huge. Think it would validate the direction they feel they’re headed, whereas last year’s sweep only served as a consolation prize.
7. This is a confident, relaxed team.
8. Sean Locklear is still starting at right tackle, though David Diehl could end up taking over soon. Sounds as if Locklear is playing well, which is surprising given how bad he looked last season. Not much physical play.
9. Corner Prince Amukamara, the Giants’ second-year player, looked unbelievably lost at times when facing the Redskins (injuries impacted his game last year), but sounds like he’s playing much better lately.
10. My big concern remains, as always, the defense. Can they generate any pressure on Eli Manning? Can they collapse the pocket? This is a big game for the interior rush as much as the linebackers.
11. Apparently some teammates said Lorenzo Alexander’s ability to blitz partly stems from his wedge-busting play on special teams. It’s funny because I thought the same thing in August after watching the preseason games. But when I asked Alexander about it, his take was: the way he plays makes him a good wedge-buster and not vice versa.
12. The Redskins were fined $20,000 for not accurately reporting Robert Griffin III’s status during the Vikings game (changing him from questionable to out). They knew he was out and therefore the status should have been updated. Did they handle Griffin wrong? Nope.
13. The receivers need to be more productive without Pierre Garcon. No wideout has gained more than 80 yards in a game aside from Garcon. Joshua Morgan has had two games with more than 50 yards receiving with a high of 62. Leonard Hankerson has a high game of 68 – which includes a 68-yard touchdown catch. Santana Moss had 80 yards on a day where he caught a 77-yard TD pass. Yes, the ball is being spread around but more is needed from the others.
14. If Sav Rocca can’t punt, they’ll go with David Sepulveda, who held while a punter in Pittsburgh. Good thing Kai Forbath isn’t bothered by the timing of the operation. It’ll be different; a new holder has to know how the kicker likes the ball tilted, etc. Is it a big deal? We’ll find out Sunday.
15. Every game there are points left on the field by this offense. That’s a scary thought. Brandon Banks could have gone the distance on a fourth-quarter play (the series before Griffin did) had Hankerson made his block; Griffin could have gone the distance if Antoine Winfield had not made a backside tackle on an option run through left guard. On Griffin’s interception Santana Moss runs an out and up and breaks free as Griffin rolls that way.
16. That’s not a criticism because for as well as Griffin has played he’s still learning. But it is to say that more plays are there to be made. Of course, you could say the same thing about other offenses as well. Griffin is very careful with his decisions (which is why the pass on the interception was unusual).
17. I didn’t know this before today, but: linebacker Ryan Kerrigan was a high school baseball center fielder and a middle-of-the-order hitter.
18. Now you know.
19. Now I’m done.