1. Who won't play?
Only Cornelius Griffin and Shawn Springs. Those are
crucial losses as Griffin remains the best lineman and Springs the most
versatile defensive back. Griffin's loss is worse as Springs has missed
a number of games already. Because Carlos Rogers has played so well,
the Redskins don't miss Springs nearly as much as they could have.
2. How will they replace Griff?
Anthony Montgomery will get the bulk of
the snaps in his place. The good thing is how well Kedric Golston is
playing. He's made plays all season, going back to the New Orleans
game. Lorenzo Alexander and Demetric Evans will play inside as well.
Alexander's pass-rushing quickness should help Sunday. Griff is a load
and commands double teams. Monty is a load and will get doubled, but
hasn't really played that well this year. He still gets too upright.
3. How effective will Jason Taylor be?
Considering he'll likely have
surgery at some point after the game, I can't imagine he'll be that
effective. However, he'll face George Foster who is a stiff. He's been
benched five times in two games. So if Taylor is going to have a
breakout game – at this point, one sack and some pressures would
qualify given his injury status – this is the time to do it.
4. Is the secondary healthy enough?
Every starter in the backfield
missed at least one practice this week. That's a bad sign. All, except
for Springs, are expected to play. But there's no doubt the Lions will
test them downfield. I'd worry most about Fred Smoot and his groin;
that seems to be a nagging issue.
5. Can they stop Calvin Johnson?
Yes. But stopping him does not mean
shutting him down. They just can't let him go crazy. Johnson is big and
fast, a freakish athlete. Carlos Rogers did not have a great game
against Braylon Edwards last week. The reason Edwards didn't have a
huge game is because he dropped passes and was missed on other times
when he was open. Rogers has had a very good year and it's not as if he
played poorly last week. But Edwards should have posted big numbers.
Johnson is a similar type receiver and averages 21.2 yards per catch.
That means safety help downfield.
6. What must they do defensively?
Pressure Dan Orlovsky. He's struggled
in his two starts and is only a 52 percent passer. His line does not
help as he's been sacked nine times, though that's often a function of
a young QB as well. Still, the Lions have allowed 24 sacks for the
season. The Redskins won't play it vanilla against Orlovsky. They do an
excellent job disguising coverages and that will lead to pressure and
7. What else must they do?
Create a turnover for heaven's sake. Give
the offense a short field. The D has been outstanding this season, but
they haven't provided many short fields to work with. The offense has
started a drive in opposing territory only 10 times all season; two
came at the end of games when they ran out the clock. But the other
eight times all resulted in points. The poor field position is why
Washington is 7th in yards and 23rd in points scored.
8. What about the Lions' D?
They allow a lot of yards. Which is why
four teams have held the ball for at least 35 minutes. Look for the
Redskins to do the same with Clinton Portis. Opposing backs average 4.8
yards per carry. If Portis were going to crack the 200-yard mark, this
would be the game.
9. Who should they worry about?
Defensive end DeWayne White and
linebacker Ernie Sims. They're probably the Lions' top two defenders.
White has four sacks, two of which have forced fumbles. But he'll be
matched against Chris Samuels. Sims, the weakside backer, is a tackling
machine. He's small, only 225 pounds, but fast. Mike Sellers, among
others, will have to wear him down.
10. Will the Redskins win?
First off, I'll abandon the notion that they
might overlook Detroit. I agree with Jim Zorn: They didn't overlook St. Louis. They turned the ball over three times and dropped two would-be
interceptions. That's why they lost. And it's the only way they lose
this game. Washington will limp to the midway point with a 6-2 mark
after Sunday. Redskins 24, Lions 10.
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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