1. Are the Redskins ready?
After the last two preseason games you'd be
hard-pressed to say yes. But what helps is the lack of panic in Jim
Zorn's voice. Of course, that might be a bad thing, too. We'll find
out. But they remain a confident upbeat bunch. And they've been around
long enough to know that it was just the preseason and that they looked
good the first three games. The Redskins genuinely believe people
underestimate them. They don't say it with a chip on their shoulder,
just with a matter-of-fact tone.
2. Are the Giants better than last year?
It's hard to say yes
considering they lost their top two pass rushers in Michael Strahan
(retirement) and Osi Umenyiora (injury). They nearly didn't even make
the playoffs in 2007 and the Redskins should have swept them. Sources
close to the Giants say they haven't been distracted by winning the
Super Bowl and they say the team looks much better.
3. Where is New York better?
At quarterback with Eli Manning
. Until the
postseason, he was much like Jason Campbell
– awesome for stretches and
maddening for others. Then he took care of the ball better and managed
the game better in the postseason. Daily observers of the Giants'
practices say Manning is much more accurate and consistent and
confident. Something changed last January. Until he does it for a full
le will wonder if he truly has changed.
4. Will Jason Taylor play?
The Redskins call him a game-time decision,
but he was only going about half-speed Tuesday. That's not a good sign.
Clearly he'll want to play – and no doubt Vinny Cerrrato would like his
prized acquisition to perform in a national game – but if he was only
going half-speed the other day, why risk him in the opener? If they
want to play him, they'd be wise to only use him on passing downs. Let
handle the run duties.
5. How much worse is the Giants' pass rush?
Maybe not as much as you
think. Justin Tuck
is a solid rusher, though he's not as good as
Strahan on the left side. And Mathias Kiwanuka
won't be a big dropoff
from Osi Umenyiora, who had nearly half of his 13 sacks in one game vs.
an overmatched rookie. They still have enough to threaten the Redskins
in this area. What I wonder about Tucks is how he'll handle being more
of a focal point; he would move inside last season and hurt teams with
his quickness. It's how he got 10 sacks. Without Strahan around, more
focus will be on Tuck.
6. Where should the Redskins exploit New York's defense?
They need to
attack the outside linebackers, Danny Clark
and Gerris Wilkinson
That's the trickle down of Kiwanuka moving to end from linebacker. It's
a bigger step down there than
it is at end where he replaces Umenyiora.
The Redskins absolutely must exploit this matchup; they should be able
to get Chris Cooley
open against these guys –though the Giants are
smart and won't leave them one-on-one against him. Still, exploit this
7. What are the concerns with Washington's defense?
New York has a big
fullback and big running back. They will try to run downhill much of
the game, which means the Redskins interior must be strong. They
haven't been this summer. And the ends must be stout against the run.
Neither is considered a run-stopper (though Evans, if he starts, is
stronger than Taylor).
8. Anywhere else?
The secondary. New York worked on a lot of deep
passes early in training camp. Pay attention to that. They no doubt
will test LaRon Landry
's hamstring and see how much ground he can
cover. The corners must hold up; Shawn Springs
needs a good game vs.
. But the guy who had the best preseason was speedster
9. Who must come through?
Antwaan Randle El on offense and Cornelius Griffin
on defense. Randle El is simple; the Giants will try to take
away Santana Moss
by rolling coverage his way and they'll focus a lot
on Cooley. That means Randle El should get plenty of good looks
underneath. As for Griffin, we stated it above; the Redskins need a
strong game up the middle. He's their best inside
and must be
disruptive on a few occasions.
10. Will the Redskins win?
The Giants were 3-5 at home last season; so
much for taking care of your home turf. If ever there was a night to
get them, this would be it, with another Super Bowl ceremony before the
game and with a few key player losses. Maybe they'll be distracted.
However, they believe they've been very much ignored for a Super Bowl
champion. So they're still motivated. Plus my concerns with Washington
are that we don't know how Jim Zorn will handle a real game; we don't
know how good the offense will be or when it will click and there are
questions about both lines. That's too many unknowns. Giants 23,
John Keim covers the Redskins for the Washington Examiner and is a contributing editor for Warpathinsiders.com. He has covered the team since 1994. Some of his other stories can be found at dcexaminer.com
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Are the Redskins Ready? Will Jason Taylor play? Where should the Redskins exploit the Giants' defense? All this and more as John Keim takes a look at ten burning questions going into tonight's game and offers his predictions.
John Keim takes a look at ten burning questions going into Sunday's game and offers his predictions.