Behind Enemy Lines: Cleveland Browns vs. Washington Redskins
I talked with lead Washington Redskins analyst Julia Scanlon about the pulse in Washington leading up to their matchup with the Cleveland Browns this weekend. See what she has to say about this game in this week's edition of Behind Enemy Lines.
Jack Kopanski: Ranking near the bottom of the league in rushing offense, how important will it be to this team to get that going?
Julia Scanlon: Just in general having a good run game is important. There are so many different defensive schemes in this league a team has to have options. You’re going to have some teams with a weak secondary, where you want to focus on the passing games, and you’re going to have other teams with a strong secondary, but a weak defensive line. I think if they are going to have any success moving forward they are going to have to get that going.
JK: What has been the general consensus in Washington about Josh Norman’s presence with the team thus far through the season, taking into consideration his contract and mainly playing one side on defense?
JS: There were a lot of mixed feelings about Josh Norman coming to Washington. I think everyone was really excited to have him, but his last season was truly his break-out season and we’ve seen it happen so many times that really great pro bowl players come to Washington and are just awful (it could be the water). On top of that uncertainty we were worried about his attitude. We’ve still got Jackson and Garcon on the team who are big talkers on the field. The Redskins get a lot of flags thrown thanks to our offensive line, we really didn’t need that on defense too. Not to mention the media surrounding him. We’ve learned that media has had a negative impact on this team in the past so that was another concern.
But from what I have seen so far this season Norman is faring pretty well here. He had a small altercation with David Bruton, Jr at the beginning of the season on the sidelines, but he’s kept his attitude in check mostly. He played pretty well against Odell Beckham, Jr (which was a big match up going into last week). As for him only playing one side, Norman was brought in for one reason. He’s Josh Norman the damn good cornerback. He’s not really there to be versatile. He’s there to do what he does best. There are so many other versatile guys on the team; I am ok with Josh Norman doing what he does.
JK: With Josh Doctson likely out for the next few weeks and DeSean Jackson still listed as questionable for this week, how big of an impact on Washington’s offense and Kirk Cousins?
JS: I am not so much worried about Doctson. I mean I am worried about his health, but not so much in regards to the upcoming game. It would be nice for Cousins to have another talented target, but honestly Doctson hasn’t had much playing time, anyway. He hasn’t really been a big enough part of this offense so far for his absence to make a huge impact.
DeSean Jackson on the other hand is a huge concern of mine. Jackson is really good at catching those nearly uncatchable passes, he’s fast, he gets past defenders and he has become such an important part of this offense that the Redskins are really going to hurt without him. However, Jamison Crowder had an exemplary game last week. He had a lot of impressive catches, and we really got to see his speed last week, so I am confident that Crowder will be able to step up, but I know that there are some plays that the Redskins will just not be able to pull off without Jackson.
JK: What will it take for the Redskins to win this game?
JS: Honestly, there are so many things the Redskins need to work on. I know people are thinking this is going to be an easy win; just because of the Browns record, but look at last week vs NYG. That game was supposed to be an easy win for the Giants. The Browns haven’t won a game, so we know they are going to go hard.
Field goals are not going to cut it this week. The Redskins need to figure out what’s up with their red zone issues and find their way into the end zone. KC has to be sharper with his passes. The Browns are going to be all over Jordan Reed, because, much like Jackson, he can catch those nearly uncatchable passes and he’s Cousins’ favorite target. Cousins also need to read the defense better and look at all his options. There were a couple of times last week, when the coverage was there for Cousins; he didn’t have to rush, but he did. He passed the ball to Reed, who thank God caught it, but Crowder was open downfield with no one covering him. That was going to be a touchdown.
They have to step up their run game and I know this is slightly an unpopular opinion, but they should use Chris Thompson more. I know he’s small, but he’s good at identifying running lanes and he can catch, so he’s very versatile.
There have been a lot of injuries this week, so a lot of guys are going to have to step up. Blackmon is going to take over for DeAngelo Hall and I imagine Quinton Dunbar getting more snaps now that Breeland will probably be out. On offense there are rumors that Arie Kouandjio is going to be getting a start at left guard, he’s going to have to be ready. Communication will definitely be key.
JK: What’s your score prediction for this game and who will be the game’s MVP?
JS: Redskins 21 Browns 20
MVP: Dustin Hopkins