Last Sunday, the Redskins accomplished two things. They established their position atop of the NFC East by getting their second divisional win and gave quarterback Donovan McNabb a homecoming to remember in the form of, fittingly enough, a five-point victory over the Philadelphia Eagles.
“I was very happy for him,” linebacker Andre Carter said. “I am sure it was an emotional game for him but he held his poise and came out fighting. Winning in Philly is no easy task. The city, the crowd and the arena can be pretty harsh. We didn't allow those factors to control our goal.”
Carter appreciated the response that McNabb was given from a Philadelphia crowd that is normally very critical.
“I was happy for him to see the city applaud him. He's established himself as one of the greatest QB's to ever play the game. It was great seeing the city show him love.”
A win against a division rival for the second time in the first four weeks of the season is a refreshing change for Carter.
“It's a great feeling,” Carter said. “I can't recall being 2-0 in the division since I have been here in ‘06. It's a stepping stone. Now it's on us to be more successful week-by-week.”
Another change Carter will have to adjust to will be playing outside linebacker in a reserve role. Lorenzo Alexander took his place in the starting lineup against the Eagles and appears to be the starter for at least the near future, if not the whole season.
“It was a decision based upon the coaches,” Carter said. “I can't really say it's a permanent move but I am prepared for whatever comes my way. I am still contributing and preparing to battle against my opponent.”
Carter did play a significant amount of snaps against the Eagles, with his biggest play coming as a down lineman when he sacked quarterback Kevin Kolb. He says that despite his size, he’s still contributing to the new defense.
“I am too small [for] a typical 3-4 defense,” he said. “However, it was more of a changeup rushing the passer in a 3-point [stance]. I am a versatile player that can play linebacker or as a true rush defensive end. Either way, I want to contribute to each game the best way I know how.”
Playing Carter as a down lineman was a good decision from a matchup standpoint and showed how flexible this 3-4 defense is when it comes to looks and fronts that opposing offenses will have to face.
Coming to FedEx Field this week are the Green Bay Packers, who made the change to a 3-4 last year and are one of the leagues top defenses with weapons such as the NFL’s sack leader Clay Matthews, Jr., cornerback Charles Woodson and injured linebacker Nick Barnett.
Progress will be made with this current Redskins defense, Carter says, but it will require a little bit of patience.
“The defense is always evolving when it comes to scheme and matchups. It often depends on who we are playing against. Are they aggressive in the running game and passing game? It varies week-to-week. The Packers defense has come a long way from playing in a 4-3 and converting to a 3-4 defense. Obviously it's working and it came with time. We are coming along but at the same time it's a process.”
One bright spot from the defense was the secondary’s ability to shut down Philadelphia’s star wideouts DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin by limiting them to just four catches and making them non-factors in the Eagles offensive plans last week. Cornerbacks DeAngelo Hall and Carlos Rogers took the Eagles playmakers out of their element by jamming them at the line of scrimmage and disrupting their route-running ability throughout the game.
Carter says that the play of the secondary last week helped create opportunities for the rest of the defense.
“The secondary brought their A-Game against two great receivers. For 60 minutes they were physical at the start and allowed the linebackers time to be on point with their coverage and the defensive line to pass rush.”
The Packers also have a pair of playmaking receivers in the form of Donald Driver and Greg Jennings, each of whom has three touchdowns this season. A bit of physicality should be what the doctor ordered for the Redskins secondary two weeks in a row.
When asked if the secondary should keep the same game plan as last week, Carter placed emphasis on the pass rush as opposed to the secondary playing physical at the line of scrimmage.
“I think in general we need to have good pass rush in order to help out our secondary. Pass rush and coverage come hand-in-hand. We can't have one without the other,” Carter said.
Considering the man behind center for Green Bay is the only player to throw for over 4,000 yards in each of his first two full seasons in the NFL, keeping him confused and under pressure isn’t a bad idea.
Aaron Rodgers isn’t playing quite as well as he has the past two seasons but he is still a threat whenever he steps on the field. A year after passing for 4,434 yards, 30 touchdowns and only seven interceptions despite being sacked a league-high 51 times, Rodgers has passed for 940 yards, eight touchdowns and already has tossed five interceptions.
The Packers will rely on their passing game more in 2010 than in previous years because of the season-ending ankle injury to starting running back Ryan Grant. Another of Rodgers’ favorite targets is tight end Jermichael Finley, who is second among NFL tight ends in receiving yards with 301, which is also a team-high. Finley will be on Carter’s mind throughout tomorrow’s game as well.
“He has a great motor for a tight end. He creates big plays and when players try to tackle him, he is able to maneuver effectively and make people miss,” Carter said.
Keeping the Packers’ offensive weapons in check will allow the Redskins to gain another important NFC victory against a playoff-caliber opponent.
“Games like this, in general, are great,” Carter said. “It brings momentum in the organization and boosts confidence. What we have to do is play on a consistent basis similar to or above last week’s performance and take it one week at a time.”
Countertrey: Superficial question: Which uniform combo do you prefer?
AC: I would say all burgundy.
PAPDOG67: Andre, I know Vick was knocked out relatively early on Sunday but will it be a little easier preparing for another mobile QB like Rodgers this week after a game in which you were chasing Vick around?
AC: I wouldn't say it would be easy, however, I think having two mobile QB's back-to-back gives us an idea on [how to] pass rush effectively. On a sense of humor side note, it also prepares us to be the best conditioned defense on the field.