With Washington coming to town, we asked five questions of Hogs Haven.
Blogging The Boys: So we're guessing Colt McCoy will start Monday night. Given that, how do you expect him to perform? Does he bring anything new or different to the Washington offense?
Hogs Haven: Cousins did a lot of good things while he was the starter. He can make every throw, and was really connecting with DeSean Jackson on the deep throws, and making some tough throws in tight coverage. The problem was he would also try to force throws, or throw to where the receiver was supposed to be which led to turnovers and his eventual benching. Cousins had a good connection with Andre Roberts and DeSean Jackson.
I'm not going to try to hype McCoy up too much here. He can manage a game and he'll be able to run Gruden's offense, and should be effective in the short passing game, but he didn't throw over the middle and I think you'll be able to choke off his favorite targets and force him to try to make plays where he's not comfortable. I don't trust his arm on the deep throws, which could limit DeSean Jackson's effectiveness. McCoy should be a little more mobile than Cousins, and hopefully they will use more rollouts and play-action. McCoy will lean on Pierre Garcon and TE Jordan Reed, and hopefully the running game can be a factor to take some of the pressure off of his first start in years.
BTB: In a follow-up question, where do you see Washington's future at QB? Is it going to be RG3 or do they need to start looking again?
HH: Robert Griffin III will be given every opportunity to be the QB of the future in Washington. The media loved to tease that Cousins could be the guy, and Gruden was coy about it after Griff was hurt. I still think that Cousins could be a low end starter for some teams in the league, but that's not going to happen here unless of course Griffin is hurt. If McCoy falls on his face on Monday night, Cousins could easily be inserted as the starter. And if McCoy really bombs, he might get pulled at halftime. Why not, our two wins this year have come from the backup, relief QB coming in and finishing the game.
But seriously, Griffin is the guy. He still has some things to prove, and he has a lot of people doubting his long-term durability and success in the NFL. Those doubts were there before he was drafted, then he had a great rookie year, and then he got hurt. The ankle injury this year was just a freak play where he rolled out and landed badly on it, while completing the pass to DeSean Jackson. He should be back after the bye, and hopefully returning to a 4-5 record...
BTB: How have things progressed in Jay Gruden's first year? What is noticeably different about the team this year?
HH: The wins aren't there, so there is a lot of frustration early. For me personally, it started off on the wrong foot by retaining defensive coordinator Jim Haslett. I wanted a fresh start, but Gruden and Haslett have history so he got a year to prove he was a competent DC... Another frustrating thing this year has been the running game, which has taken a step back. Gruden only has one new starter on an offensive line that has been very good in the running game the last several years.
There are a number of reasons for this, Morris not being as effective, the offensive line making mistakes and not getting to the second level, TE and WR blocking has been inconsistent, and playcalling/game situations. It needs to get fixed quickly, because the game should not be placed on the arms of the 2nd and 3rd string QBs when you have a good RB at your disposal.
I think Gruden will be fine once he is able to get more of his players on the team. Having one QB start the entire year would help too. He's a huge change from the last four years of Mike Shanahan and Co. in attitude, honesty, and player interaction. One way he's similar is the lack of wins, which will hopefully not have to wait until year three to change.
BTB: Just want to check in on our old friend Jason Hatcher. How has he performed over the season so far?
HH: Hatcher needed a knee scope after OTA's which caused him to miss most of training camp/preseason. He has also had a hamstring injury that limited him in at least one game. But Hatcher has been a disruptive player on the line, and he is the type of player the Redskins needed to get pressure on the QB. He has 3 sacks this season, but has been a factor in many other big plays.
I wasn't high on the signing at the time, but I understand why the Redskins wanted him. The Redskins secondary has been questionable for a long time. They wanted someone like Hatcher to be disruptive, pressure the QB, and mask the secondaries issues. But one player can only do so much.
BTB: Brian Orakpo is out for the year, how big of an impact is that? How has the Washington defense been in general?
HH: Brian Orakpo has been playing hurt since his ankle was injured in a preseason game vs the Ravens. Then he tore a ligament in his finger which affected him the rest of the season. His lack of sacks this year, after receiving the franchise tag, caused a lot of frustration and anger in Redskins Nation. But Orakpo was still bringing pressure, played decent in coverage, and was a top 5 OLB in the NFL for run stops for a loss.
The loss will be bigger than people want to admit, in my opinion. Ryan Kerrigan has been having his best season as a pro, but he works well with Orakpo causing pressure on the other side. Now we will be relying on rookie Trent Murphy who has been active all season. Murphy has a lot to prove, and will switch sides with Kerrigan depending on the matchups. It's a significant dropoff right now, and I need to see more strength and quickness from Murphy.
The defense as a whole has been average. They have been put in bad situations almost every game due to offensive turnovers and continued bad field position from special teams. They've been better against the run than the pass, and the secondary is the definite weak spot. We have second-year player David Amerson and rookie Bashaud Breeland as the starting CBs with DeAngelo Hall out for the year. A lot of youth there to go with the age at the safety position. The loss of Hall, Orakpo, and Barry Cofield (IR-return) has been rough so far.