December 26, 2010

Redskins Vs. Jaguars: Pregame Notes

I would give keys to a win, but honestly in the long run, a victory wouldn't do the 'Skins much good at this point if they want to have a shot in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes. Luck is from Stanford like another quarterback Mike Shanahan once had (no, I'm not talking about Bubby Brister) and he seems to be quite NFL ready.

But I digress, the Jaguars come in ranked as the NFL's third best rushing attack. That's a bad sign for a defense giving up 4.8 YPC. MVP candidate Maurice Jones-Drew has led the Jaguars to wins in five of their last seven games. The superstud had rushed for six 100 rushing games in a row before last week's 34-24 loss to the Colts and on the season he has accounted for over 1,600 yard of offense. He is second in the NFL in rushing and has singlehandedly given hope to a team without much in the way of a fanbase or a front office.

Unfortunately for Jacksonville, Jones-Drew is unlikely to play tomorrow meaning backup Rashad Jennings will start in his place. Jennings is averaging 6.8 YPC in limited duty behind Jones-Drew and the Redskins must stop him if they want to win the game.

Jags QB Davis Garrard has been quietly efficient this season, completing 65.2 percent of his passes and posting a QB rating of 93.2, which is the tenth best among NFL signalcallers. He also has a flair for the dramatic, completing a desperation toss to Mike Thomas for the game-winning touchdown on the final play against the Texans a few weeks ago.

While the Jaguars are a run-first team, expect them to throw it more this week without Jones-Drew in the game. The Redskins secondary is depleted and will be without safeties Reed Doughty, LaRon Landry, and possibly Kareem Moore. The Jaguars pretty much need this game to remain in contention for the AFC title and they will think outside the box to win the game.

For the Redskins, they should look to establish the run early; something they really haven't done this year (with the exception of the game vs. Tampa). The Jaguars also give up yards against the run (4.6 YPC) and their pass-rushing defensive tackles in Tyson Alualu and Terrance Knighton (7.5 combined sacks) would be neutralized with early success on the ground.

However, considering Kyle Shanahan will probably continue to sling it around 40 times a game, the Redskins will be going up against the 28th ranked passing defense in the league. The downside will be of course containing the rush up the middle since Washington has been unsuccessful stopping other defenses' interior pass rush.

If the Redskins play this game wisely, they will keep it close because Jacksonville has their fair share of flaws. It won't matter in the end though as it's the Jaguars who have the incentive. The Redskins have won one game since their bye week while Jacksonville is making a significant play-off push. Intangibles go to the Jags and so does the win.

If you can't stomach a fifth straight loss watch this and remember it's for the greater good.

Update: Here's today's inactives via Grant Paulsen. With Jammal Brown out, Stephon Heyer starts at right tackle. Kevin Barnes and Macho Harris will start at safety. Anthony Bryant starts at nose tackle, Andre Carter at OLB, and Vonnie Holliday at DE due to injuries to Kedric Golston. Expect to see some of Chris Wilson and Rob Jackson at OLB as well.

Also per Adam Schefter, Donovan McNabb is expected to ask for his release at the end of the season. Trade or release, he's a goner.

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