Welcome back to The Burgundy and Gold Report. Fans voiced their displeasure with the release of Kapri Bibbs, Martrell Spaight and most recently Anthony Lanier II. Fortunately, Bibbs was signed to the practice squad and Lanier was replaced with former Cleveland Browns DE/DT Caleb Brantley.
Brantley is a prospect with more upside and coaches feel he can play the pass & the run, as opposed to Lanier being a liability versus the run. The upgrades on the Redskins D-line will go a long way in determining the defense and ultimately the team’s success.
Today will be the first time QB Alex Smith takes the field for the Redskins and will be aided by newcomer RB Adrian Peterson. The defense is the big matchup to watch today, but the success of Smith will determine how far Washington can go this year.
Here are a few key matchups Skins fans should keep an eye on as the Redskins face the Arizona Cardinals on today.
Norman vs Fitztgerald
Josh Norman spent the offseason competing on primetime dance show Dancing with the Stars. Redskins fans have been down on the veteran corner since his play slipped last season. Taking a closer look at the tape showed Norman never fully looked recovered from the broken rib/sternum injury during the October ’17 meeting versus Kansas City. Matching up against Fitzgerald gives Norman the first test of the 2018 season. Many consider the cornerback position as the biggest team weakness so Norman’s performance will go a long way for fans’ confidence today.
David Johnson vs D-line
The Redskins’ retooled defensive line will surely be tested today. Arizona running back David Johnson is more than just a finesse back who can line up all over the field. He’s a large back who can create his own running lanes with sheer power. Arizona’s offensive line has to be the team’s #1 weakness heading into the game. Further complicating matters for the Cardinals, starting Arizona center AQ Shipley suffered a torn ACL in practice, shelving him for the year. Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky and defensive line coach Jim Tomsula have to be smelling blood in the water. This is the matchup of the day with the Alabama duo, Allen & Payne, getting their first regular season game together since the 2016 College National Championship.
Defensive lineman John Allen has looked good coming off of his early 2017 season injury and will be asked to set the edge along with Matt Ioannidis, Ziggy Hood and newcomer rookie Tim Settle. Daron Payne will be the starting nose tackle, but look for the rookie to kick outside on third downs. Keeping Johnson from getting outside will be the duty of the linebackers, but the defensive line will have to get push up the middle on the weak Arizona line. Although stunts should be used with outside linebackers Kerrigan & Smith, the Redskins just need to focus on collapsing the pocket from within. Johnson is a tough match-up for the new look Skins defensive line, but The B&G Report foresees big things from the unit and it starts today.
Bradford vs Preston Smith
Saying Redskins outside linebacker Preston Smith has had success versus Bradford would be an understatement. In two previous match-ups versus Bradford, Smith registered 6 sacks and 2 interceptions. Unfortunately, Smith is a player that can run hot & cold at times, so keeping an eye on his play-to-play effort will be monitored by coaches. In a contract year, Smith realizes the pot of gold is at the end of rainbow, so this could be the year he adds a relentless motor to his game. Having a productive game today could make the Redskins think long and hard about extending the fourth year linebacker during the season. Look for the Redskins to exploit Bradford and to force the Cardinal’s porous offensive line into making bad decisions. Smith seemed to benefit anytime the Redskins brought pressure on the veteran quarterback. The B&G Report anticipates Preston will have another good game with 2 sacks and a forced fumble.
Morgan Moses vs Chandler Jones
Moses going up against Jones should be the matchup most concerning for Skins’ fans. Moses spent the offseason recovering from ankle surgery and reportedly will have the other ankle operated on at the conclusion of the season. New Arizona Head Coach Steve Wilks and defensive coordinator Al Holcomb bring a heavy zone defensive philosophy, which could lead to Alex Smith holding on to the ball longer than desired. Having the benefit of a RB like Adrian Peterson could help in chipping Jones and steering him off his pass rush. However, Jones will earn his money on third downs in which Chris Thompson will draw the tall task of assisting Moses. Thompson could be the best blocking back on the team, but Coach Gruden needs to scheme away from Jones and focus more on quick hit/underneath zone beater plays.
Alex Smith vs The Cardinals Defense
This probably goes down as the most obvious match-up to watch today in Smith’s first regular season game in the burgundy and gold. Cardinals’ do-it-all corner back Patrick Peterson will be the player Smith steers away from today. From The B&G Report‘s perspective, attacking the middle of Arizona’s zone with tight ends Reed, Davis and Sprinkle should yield positive results. Arizona’s DB’s will focus on the Redskins’ receivers which in turn should leave the Cardinals linebackers and safeties one on one with the Skins’ tight ends. It’s no secret that Smith’s history has shown that tight ends have been his go-to targets, so don’t expect that to change today. Smith should have a good day with 260 passing yards, 38 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns in the win.
In the end, The B&G Report is expecting a tremendous effort on both side of the ball with the Redskins getting the win 30-17. Thanks for checking out another Burgundy and Gold Report and stay tuned for the post game wrap up and much more.
Written By Adam Aniba
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