Redskins injuries turn strategy for beating Bengals on its head

Brian Orakpo, Redskins
How close is today’s Washington Redskins – Cincinnati Bengals match-up? Of the 12 experts at ESPN.com, seven back the home team ‘Skins to win. Sportsbook Bovada calls it a three-point spread with the advantage to Washington. The sportsbooks favored Washington by 3.5 against the Rams last week. Just saying.

Paul Bessire’s Prediction Machine had the Redskins winning 54 percent of the preseason game simulations. The Prediction Machine flashed a loss to the Saints (wrong) and had the Rams winning a bare majority of the of the game simulations (right).

Games are not played on paper. They are played on television. That’s why we love sports – the possibility that human effort will overcome fate.

“Never tell me the odds, kid.” ~ Han Solo, Star Wars V, The Empire Strikes Back

The Redskins and the Bengals are evenly matched. This game could go either way.

The early season has not panned out as Hog Heaven expected. The defense is not carrying the team to provide cushion for the rookie quarterback. Robert Griffin III carried the team, and this week may carry the defense. St. Louis hit Washington where it hurt, in the secondary. The video is there for all to see. Bengals QB Andy Dalton saw it.

When the secondary is second-rate, teams count on the pass rush as an equalizer. Losing LB Brian Orakpo and DE Adam Carriker for the season adds pressure on Washington. It’s the offense, not the secondary that will answer. Washington’s secondary made Rams WR Danny Amandolo a Pro Bowler. The Rams did most of their damage in the second half with Orakpo and Carriker out.

Robert Griffin III gave Washington two opportunities to pull out a win late in the game. On one, Aldrick Robinson dropped a beautifully thrown deep pass that surely would have been the game-winner. The last chance was ruined by Josh Morgan’s empty-headed reaction to Cortland Finnigan. The resulting penalty gave Washington less than a one-percent chance to tie on Billy Cundiff’s 62-yard field goal attempt. Things like that just seem to happen when it’s ‘Skins vs. Rams. The point is that Griffin gave the team its chances.

Don’t call Robert Griffin III a running quarterback. The term itself is a kind of slur. Let me digress. In college football, a running quarterback emerges from an option formation where he either tosses the ball to a running back, or is himself the running threat. It seems passing is optional in those systems, which is not how option play got its name. Running quarterbacks mostly ran the ball and were less skilled passers when they reached the pros.

Tim Tebow was a running quarterback. He is still a running quarterback. What do you expect him to do when the Jets feed him the ball on a Wildcat play? Surely, not to pass it. People rarely call Tebow a running quarterback. Michigan’s Denard Robinson proved himself a running quarterback against notre Dame last night. He will enter the NFL tagged with that label.

Griffin was a dual threat in his last year at Baylor, excellent at both passing and running, but a better passer than rusher. In keeping with his Baylor profile, RGIII is an efficient passer (70 percent completion rate, 9.6 yards per pass attempt), and he is Washington’s second-leading rusher. With only one interception, Washington enters the game as the league-leader in net take-aways. Today he matches up with Andy Dalton whose 2011 passing performance I believe RGIII will match. 

Through two games, Griffin and Dalton have thrown for three touchdowns. Griffin averages 268 passing yards per game; Dalton averages 270. Dalton’s TCU squad beat Griffin and the Baylor Bears 45-10 when the two faced off in September 2010.  

I’m going with the spread, but expecting a high-scoring game with both teams scoring over 30. Redskins 35, Bengals 31.

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Hear Redskins Hog Heaven’s game commentary during the game thanks to the techno-magic of Let Me hear Ya. Follow the link to my profile page and click your way through the instructions. Those of you who are handy with your DVR can adjust the timer and have Hog heaven commentary in synch with the game. The rest of us will notice a slight lag of my audio to the game action you see on your TV. I’m not attempting to do play-by-play, just my thoughts as the game unfolds. To comment on my comments, use “#HogHeavenTV” on Twitter.

I promise a completely Redskins-biased view based on reality. To those who heard me last week, gimme another chance. I promise to do better.
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Injury Report -

The Redskins report that WR Pierre Garcon is DOUBTFUL. Unofficial reports say he is OUT. Who ya gonna believe? Must be one of those “force the Bengals to prepare for him” things.

The Bengals report that DE Jamall Anderson and CB Dre’ Kirkpatrick are OUT.

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Anthony Brown

About Anthony Brown

Lifelong Redskins fan and blogger about football and life since 2004. Joined MVN's Hog Heaven blog in 2005 and then moved Redskins Hog Heaven to Bolguin Network. Believes that the course of a season is pre-ordained by management decisions made during the offseason. Can occasionally be found on the This Given Sunday blog and he does guest posts.

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