The Rams travel east for the first time since Week 4 in hopes of securing back-to-back wins for the first time this season.
Let’s just get this out-of-the-way: the Rams should win this game.
Washington is a mess. At 3-9, the team returns to third string quarterback Colt McCoy. McCoy led the team to two wins after replacing an ineffective Kirk Cousins who started in place of the injured Robert Griffin. Griffin returned in Week 9 only to lose three straight. Head coach Jay Gruden benched him in favor of McCoy.
RG III is holding a clipboard. So it’s former Texas Longhorn Colt McCoy.
McCoy has been effective, but he’s also ripe for Sack City. His two midseason wins came at home versus Tennessee and on the road in prime time against Dallas. He threw for 392 yards and three touchdowns in a losing effort last week in Indianapolis. But the Rams’ secondary is far better than the Colts–so I expect McCoy to really struggle, especially if the Rams can generate a strong four-man pass rush.
Historically, young, inexperienced quarterbacks do not fare well against Jeff Fisher coached teams. In his time with St. Louis, he is 7-2-1 against quarterbacks whose first start in the league came that particular season.
It’s no secret Washington likes to chuck the football downfield to DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon. Jackson and Garcon are two of the fastest receivers in the NFL and the vertical passing threat paired with monster running back Alfred Morris is a defensive nightmare. The problem is the ongoing Ferris wheel at quarterback… And a potential injured Jackson (bruised right fibula) who did not practice Wednesday.
One positive is the Redskins return to FedEx Field for the first time in three weeks. They got booed off the field following an ugly 27-7 loss to Tampa Bay (2-10). Washington has dropped four straight, the second four game losing streak this season.
Not much winning is going on anywhere in the nation’s capital these days, including FedEx Field.
The Redskins secondary is a huge weak spot. Starting cornerbacks DeAngelo Hall (torn Achilles) and Tracy Porter (shoulder) both landed on IR early this season. Safety Brandon Meriwether is ‘not looking good’ for Saturday with a toe injury. Two backup cornerbacks are questionable with lingering concussions.
Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett’s head could soon explode. The ‘Skins defense allowed 49 points and 487 yards of total offense to Andrew Luck and the Colts last week. Luck went 4-of-7 for 182 yards and three touchdowns on balls thrown more than 20 yards downfield last week.
Second year cornerback David Emerson had a forgettable outing, allowing six receptions on seven targets for 183 yards and four touchdowns. According to Pro Football Focus, Quarterbacks have a Rating of 135.2 when throwing at Amerson… The highest among 70 ranked cornerbacks
This could mean big numbers for Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey, and Kenny Britt. They should have plenty of opportunities to put their hands up.
MATCHUP TO WATCH
Redskins right defensive end Jason Hatcher versus the Rams left tackle Greg Robinson
Pro Football Focus rates Hatcher as the second-highest productive pass rusher behind J.J. Watt. The former Cowboy has seven sacks, six hits, and 25 hurries on 299 pass rushes.
Robinson has struggled against savvy defensive ends, most notably in San Diego against Dwight Freeney.
5 KEYS TO THE GAME
1. Don’t turn the ball over. No shit, Sherlock. St. Louis is 3-0 this season when playing turnover-free football.
2. Aside from the San Diego loss, the Rams defense is on fire. In the last 5 weeks, they’ve accounted for 13 turnovers and 22 sacks. But Washington is capable of scoring points. Phillip Rivers successfully unloaded the ball quick, negating the pass rush and forced the Rams to tackle well–which they did not.
Like Rivers, Colt McCoy has been good under duress. He completed 16-of-21 passes for 283 yards and three touchdowns when facing five or more pass rushers against Indianapolis. Hopefully the fellas learned a lesson from the San Diego game.
3. Shaun Hill isn’t Andrew Luck. Yes, the Rams scored 52 points last week. Yes, the Redskins secondary is pathetic. But if Brian Schottenheimer gets pass-happy, well, look out. Ryan Kerrigan and Jason Hatcher are very good edge rushers and nobody wants to see Hill sling the ball 40 times. Take shots downfield while maintaining a balanced attack with Tre Mason and Benny Cunningham.
4. Special Teams. The field is absolutely terrible. The grass is clumpy, thick, and knee eating. Just ask RG III. The kicking game cannot afford blocked or missed field goals. The Rams’ special teams have been a nightmare on the road this season. This is a huge key in my opinion.
5. Win the damn game. The Rams need to beat the Redskins. Things won’t go as smoothly as a 52-0 drubbing, so, overcome the in-game adversity and just prove you’re the better team. No 80-yard TD miscommunication baloney, no crucial special teams mistakes, and hopefully no absurd zebras intervening. Just win.
AND I THINK THE RAMS WILL
The Rams defense attacks McCoy, who might not last the entire game.
Thanks for reading.