When you start defense of your NFC East title 0-2 with both losses at home, expect changes. Seeing as coach Jay Gruden nor the players are likely to tip their hands too much, we enter the projection zone. Here are a few changes that could and perhaps should happen when the Washington Redskins travel to face the New York Giants in Week 3.
1. Josh Norman WILL track Odell Beckham Jr. on the majority of snaps. This isn't, from my perspective, a case of enough is enough after two weeks of largely keeping Norman on one side of the field and most in town openly complaining about the tactic. According to Pro Football Focus, the early returns have Norman playing the best football of his career. After watching Antonio Brown and Dez Bryant shine against others in the Redskins secondary combined with the winless start, look for a change in approach. The Redskins had Norman more on Bryant in the fourth quarter as is.
In last season's fabled New York-Carolina regular season matchup, Beckham and Norman lined up across from each other on 56 snaps, according to PFF. Only when Beckham moved into the slot (18 snaps) did Norman not follow. By the way, despite all the talk over the 2015 meeting, neither graded out high, per PFF. Beckham was thrown at nine times overall -- seven with Norman in coverage. He caught six passes, four against Norman, for 76 yards and one TD. Beckham also had two drops, per PFF.
[UPDATE: One report surfaced later in the week that Norman will indeed trail Beckham more than not.]
2. Staying with the secondary, Dashaun Phillips struggled in the slot thru two games while rookie Kendall Fuller was inactive both games. Reverse that for Week 3. Another rookie, Giants WR Sterling Shepard, is taking names from the slot two games into his career.
[UPDATE -- Coach Jay Gruden's comments this week make it sound like it's not Fuller's time yet. As for the slot, look for Breeland lining up inside more than normal based on practice observations and conversations this week.]
3. The Redskins have barely attempted running the ball in two games. Only 29 carries in two games, 31st in the league. The Giants are fourth in the NFL in run defense (71.0 ypg). This combination means...the Redskins will rush at least 20 times in New York. Why not? Matt Jones is averaging 4.3 yards per carry. More draws for Chris Thompson and some work for rookie Robert Kelley also would work. The Redskins are 26th in time of possession in part because they've abandoned the ground game.
4. This next one less reaction to the past and more about what's on deck, but look for three cornerbacks on the field at all times. That means more Greg Toler (4 snaps against Dallas) and Quinton Dunbar (zero defensive snaps).
5. If Kendall Reyes (groin) cannot practice by Wednesday, the Redskins sign a veteran defensive lineman. Otherwise the group is Chris Baker and Ziggy Hood...and 35-year-old Cullen Jenkins...and undrafted rookie Anthony Lanier who was inactive the first two games...and Matt Ioannidis who was just added from the practice squad. As for who, NT Jerrell Powe was with the Redskins all summer. Baker has another suggestion.
[UPDATE -- Reyes was ruled out Friday, but no corresponding outside addition. This unit...]