The feared Redskins defense is sneaky good, now here comes the Ravens

 

Victor Cruz and Cedric Griffin, Giants at Redskins, December 2012

Just when Hog Heaven is ready to say nice things about the Washington Redskins defense, Michael Lombardi goes and writes my story for me.

Robert Griffin III and the Redskins are getting a big boost from the defense says Lombardi in a story up today on NFL.com.

"Yards allowed are not a true indication of how a defense is performing. Points allowed, red-zone success and third-down conversions allowed in the red zone are the true barometers of defensive health, and the Redskins have improved in all three categories since returning from their bye week. Even during their win over the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving, when the Cowboys scored 31 points, the Skins' defense played a big role, preventing Dallas from making the big play, allowing RG3 to build a huge 28-3 first-half lead. Before the bye, a tendency to give up big plays had been a major issue for Washington's secondary."

Something was different in the second half of the Giants game. New York converted 8 of 10 third-down attempts in the first half; yet, they had but four possessions in the second half and made a single third-down conversion. The Redskins held two of three first half scoring drives to field goal attempts – one was a miss. The Giants left eight points on the field helped by a Redskins defense that was good enough for the day.

My Minnesota friends at Purple Jesus Blog said nice things about former Vikings free agent pick-up CB Cedric Griffin. They said he was "awesome" on the 2009 Vikings defense, but lost his speed after his ACL tear.

If you are old enough, you remember ex-Vikings RB Terry Allen and concern for his "two bad knees." In the fantasy world of the time, smart players said after every bad game to trade him for said bad knees. I did not outsmart myself. I kept Allen and won a fantasy title. I secretly hoped the same of C.Griffin.

The Griffin gamble seemed to pay off for the Redskins, but sadly, the league suspended him for use of Adderall. C.Griffin, Jackson and Brandon Meriweather were supposed to backfill the secondary after LaRon Landry's departure. Landry is disgustingly healthy for the Jets, while those three are idle.

Meh. Press on.

Next, the New York Baltimore Ravens

The Redskins next face the Baltimore Ravens, the AFC team most like the New York Giants. Thank the gods of scheduling for that. The Ravens are clones of the Giants. There's a blessing in continuity to prepare for them.

I do worry about the match up of Ravens RB Ray Rice vs. ILB London Fletcher. Fletch is the defensive quarterback and the Redskins leading tackler, but his ankles are gimpy and he may be showing early signs of age. 

The Ravens are perfectly balanced targeting their top two wide receivers, but Torrey Smith is the more dangerous of the two.

PLAYER

TARGETS

CATCHES

PERCENT

AVERAGE

TDs

Torrey Smith

92

42

45.6

17.4

7

Anquan Bolden

96

55

57.3

13.6

2

.   Ravens receiver Torrey Smith    

For point of reference, Victor Cruz caught 57.6 percent of balls targeted to him for a lower average (13.0) and one more score than Smith.

If Smith is less reliable than Cruz or Bolden, he's still a big strike receiver. We know when the Redskins are in deep cover two against the Ravens, they have to be deeep back on critical down out of concern concern for Smith. The Ravens will target whoever is playing slot receiver in a favorable match-up against whoever is replacing C.Griffin.

That brings up names you've never heard of, Jerome Murphy (signed November 20), Domonique Johnson (signed October 22), and 2012 seventh round pick Richard Crawford.

Coping with necessary gaps between cornerbacks and safeties and unequal match-ups in the slot must haunt Jim Haslett, but not all those fans who want to fire him.

The defense role is to be complimentary to the offense – keep scoring close and force a turnover or two. It would really help if the D scored off a turnover, too.

Go take a look at the Lombardi story on NFL.com. We'll be here when you come back.

Image: Victor Cruz and Cedric Griffin found on Giants.com here.
Ravens receiver Torrrey Smith found on boston.cbslocal.com here.

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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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