In this new Pewter Insider feature, Pewter Report investigates opposing
teams through the eyes of those who follow the Bucs’ opponents daily. In
this week's installment, PR interviews Rich Campbell who covers the Redskins as the beat writer for the Washington Times.
Rich Campbell serves as beat reporter covering the Redskins for The Washington Times. Pewter Report interviewed Rich to get a closer look at the Bucs’ next opponent.The Redskins come to town this weekend, and RGIII is the talk of the league. We’ve seen the highlights, but what have you seen that he does better than expected, and what are the things that he’s working on?
“I think RGIII is as dynamic a player as Washington expected in the running game, although the Redskins didn’t show any of the running plays designed for Griffin in the preseason. Now they’re calling a lot of zone read and triple option plays, challenging the opposing defensive ends on design runs, stretching plays outside the pocket. That’s exactly what we expected from Griffin’s play at Baylor. But the reason that the Redskins have to run so many zone read running plays, which result in Griffin taking a lot of hits, is that he’s still developing as a drop back passer, which is typical of a rookie. Griffin is able to use his feet to cover up for that. He will get better as a passer, and won’t have to run the ball so much, so in time the Redskins’ offense should become a little more diverse.”How has Washington’s offense changed or developed this year with new talent?
“Kyle Shanahan is running the zone read and the triple option, which is something Bucs fans have seen from Cam Newton. Washington studied the way the Panthers use Newton, and Denver’s use of Tim Tebow last year, as well as Griffin’s Baylor games, and they’ve incorporated a lot of those option concepts into the Redskin offense. They still haven’t installed their entire offensive playbook yet because they are doing so many runs designed for the quarterback. That really affects the opposing linebackers, who get sucked up to the line to play the run and then are suckered by play action passes. RGIII really does well in the play action, so the Redskins are doing a lot of that.”
How much has the injury to Pierre Garcon hurt the Redskins, and is he able to play on Sunday?
“Garcon has been limited in practice all week and is improved over last week, so the Redskins are optimistic, and there’s really a sense of urgency after having lost two games in a row. When you give a receiver $25 million, you want him on the field. But nothing is determined yet for this week. Garcon is explosive after the catch, which we saw against the Saints with his 88-yard touchdown, all but about 16 of those yards coming after the catch. He’s also a really physical receiver. I’ve been impressed by how well Garcon blocks in the running game. More than anything, that’s what Washington has missed from the X receiver. That’s why Leonard Hankerson played at X receiver last week, because he’s a bigger body and better blocker. That’s a big reason why Washington really needs Garcon back.”What are the strengths and weaknesses of Washington’s offensive line?
“There’s a good chance that left tackle Trent Williams will not play because of a bone bruise in his right knee. That’s a huge loss for the Redskins. He’s the most irreplaceable player on team after RGIII. Washington gave up six sacks last week, and although one of them was because of a collision in the backfield, they’re having protection problems, and it shows. Tyler Polumbus is filling in at right tackle with starter Jammal Brown on the PUP list, and he has a long body at 6'8", but the tradeoff is athleticism. He doesn’t move extremely well, so opposing defenses are using a lot of “9" technique, rushing wide to get around Polumbus. Washington is good running the ball because of the threat of Griffin running, but the bookend offensive tackles are problematic, which Tampa Bay may exploit.”How do you expect the Redskins’ defense to play the Bucs’ offense?
“The Redskins’ priority on defense has always been to stop the run, but now they may be the worst pass defense in the league, giving up about 9 yards per pass. Defensive Coordinator Jim Haslett must decide what to do with the safeties, maybe to play 2-deep to help the pass, as the Redskins have given up a bunch of long touchdowns. The wildcard is whether Brandon Meriweather comes back, although he’s not known as a 2-deep safety. DeJon Gones hasn’t played particularly well either. Still, the Redskins need to try to focus on pass defense and try to stop the run with seven men in the box, not eight in the box.”How has the defense adjusted to the injuries to Brian Orakpo and Adam Carriker?
“Rob Jackson took Orakpo’s place at outside linebacker and played an excellent game last week. Washington used him in its base defensive package, then put in Chris Wilson and Markus White to rush the passer in nickel coverages. It worked pretty well. Jackson had a couple of run stops, one for minus 8 yards. He had some really good run reads, played smart, read his keys well and anticipated well, so that was a real positive. And Wilson drew a holding call and had one-half sack. As for Carriker’s loss, Jarvis Jenkins out of Clemson is getting most of the reps at defensive end. He’s coming off a torn ACL and is working his way back. Last year the Washington coaches thought he was best defensive tackle on the team, and his power is now coming back slowly, which showed for the first time last weekend. Cincinnati’s offensive line may have contributed to some of last week’s success, so it’ll be interesting to see how Washington does against better O-lines.”What’s the mood of the Redskins’ team?
“That’s a good question. There’s a real sense of urgency right now. The Redskins have been a losing team as long as Shanahan has been there, so it’s not unfamiliar territory for them, but they know how miserable it can be. Washington is just looking to get the defense shored up because there’s a lot of optimism about the offense, which was stuck in neutral in years past. So there’s optimism that things will turn around, but also some urgency because the schedule gets a lot harder in the coming weeks. This is a game they have to win.”What do you expect to see in Sunday’s game?
“I think that the Redskins are going to try to run the ball. They gashed Tampa Bay at home a few years ago in rain, having success with the outside zone running game, and I think they will go back to that. On defense, they’ll probably use a lot of man coverage, as they’ve been getting beat with too many quick passes. They’ll challenge Josh Freeman to be accurate, which is something that both Sam Bradford and Andy Dalton were able to do well to beat the Redskins the last two weeks. I expect it to be close, but I do expect the Redskins to win because of the urgent need to win. This coaching staff has only 12 wins in its 3rd season, and it’s really an uphill climb after this game. Of course, Raheem Morris knows the Tampa Bay personnel pretty well, so that may play into it.”Are there any players flying under the radar that Tampa Bay fans might not know about?
“Center Will Montgomery is playing as well as he’s ever played in his 7th season. Last year, he had problems with slow or off-target shotgun snaps, but has done a great job so far this year, which is really important to Washington’s offense because of the timing of the zone-reads for RGIII. And Montgomery has also been exceptional in the run game. He’s fast, so the Redskins use him on screens, and they love screens. Montgomery has some pretty good chemistry with left guard Kory Leichtensteiger and right guard Chris Chester, and their combination blocks the last few weeks have been really good.”–Bob Levine contributed to this report
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