Opposite Sideline: Washington confident
The lowdown on the Green Bay Packers' next opponent from a beat writer who covers the team.
The Green Bay Packers head to Washington in the midst of a three game losing streak to take on a Washington Redskins team that is playing well and hungry for revenge after dropping a wild-card playoff game to the Packers this past January.
We caught up with Rich Tandler, who covers the Redskins for CSN Mid-Atlantic and got his thoughts on Sunday night’s matchup. You can find his answers to our questions in the video above and the text below.
1. How much balance can we expect to see from Washington on Sunday night? Will Jay Gruden stick with the run even if it's ineffective early on?
"The Redskins hope to be balanced and in the process make 'Sunday Night Football' into Rob Kelley’s debut on a national stage. The undrafted rookie out of Tulane took over at running back for a struggling Matt Jones and has been very effective in two starts, going for 82 yards against the Bengals and 97 last Sunday against the Vikings. Play action has been working well for the Redskins as a result so I think they will continue to run even if the Packers stop it early on."
2. Why has this team struggled to score in the red zone so much? Is it a lack of weapons, ineffective play calling or a combination of both?
"They have the same weapons — including Jordan Reed and Pierre Garçon — they had last year when they scored TDs at a 60 percent clip in the red zone. And they have added Vernon Davis, who is having a career renaissance at age 32. They should probably run a little more often when they get close but other than that there are no obvious issues with the play calling. A part of it seems to be that Kirk Cousins is somewhat spooked by a critical red-zone interception he threw in Week 2 against the Cowboys. He’s great going down the field but when he gets down close to the end zone he gets just a touch hesitant, to the point where his passer rating in the red zone drops 20 points from his season performance.
3. One player that really jumps out on film is the rookie Su'a Cravens. How are the Redskins using him and how has he been progressing so far this year?
"They have been using him more often and in more different places as the season has gone on. Jay Gruden said that they just keep throwing more and more at him and he keeps absorbing it and executing. Cravens told me that against the Vikings he played some Sam linebacker, Will linebacker, inside backer, rush defensive end, and he even lined up as a 3-technique on a play or two. The only place he hasn’t played much is his listed safety spot but that is coming. He has made game-changing plays, including an interception of Eli Manning that killed a late drive that could have sent the Redskins to an 0-3 start."