With just three wins on the season to eight losses, the Redskins aren't going to be challenging for any playoff positions in 2003. For a team that may have had higher aspirations this year, the time has come to hold their chin up and remember the proud tradition that goes along with wearing the burgundy and gold. The coaching staff will be paying close attention to the players that continue to put forth the effort each game, and show their worth as 'team' players. Here are this week's key personnel match-ups:
Jason Whittle vs. Cornelius Griffin
by Scott Hurrey
Jason Whittle is a versatile lineman out of Southwest Missouri. The 7-year veteran has played center this season for the Giants and with the return of Shaun O’Hara, will shift over to the right guard spot against the Redskins on Sunday. Whittle has spent the majority of his career with the Giants, playing one season for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last season, before returning to the New York club.
Cornelius Griffin has been the most outstanding defensive lineman on the team this season. He leads the line in tackles and is tied for the team lead in sacks with 4. In Coach Joe Gibbs’ conference call with the Giants media, he stated, “I would say that I can’t imagine anybody playing better than [Cornelius Griffin] has played for us this year”.
Jason Whittle is a wily veteran, but he is staring at a tall order against Cornelius Griffin. If he is to win this matchup, he will need all of his experience to keep Manning upright and keep Tiki Barber rushes effective. Look for Griffin to have a huge game this weekend.
Clinton Portis vs. Kevin Lewis
by Fran Farren
Coming off his worse game of the year, Clinton Portis has something to prove this week against the New York Giants. Last week, the Redskins all but abandoned the running game, resulting only 6 attempts for Portis and a parse 17 yards rushing. This is not why the Redskins brought Clinton Portis to Washington D.C. so don’t look for this to ever happen again in his tenure.
Look for Clinton Portis to improve those numbers this week dramatically against a Giants defense ranked 25th against the run. The defensive line of the Giants is banged up so they’ll have to rely on Kevin Lewis and the other linebackers to step it up in run support. For a middle linebacker, Kevin Lewis does not have a lot of tackles this year, averaging only 4 tackles and about 1 ½ assists per game. A big part of that is his small size for a middle linebacker. Standing only 6’1” and weighing only 235, Lewis should easily be pushed around by offensive linemen and tight ends. Look for that to continue this week.
The days of giving Clinton Portis the ball only 6 times per game are likely few and far between. Look for Joe Gibbs to start hand it to Portis at least 20 times this week. Portis presently has 945 yards rushing…and can reach the 1,500 yard mark (which he so desperately wants to do) if he averages 111 yards rushing per game from here on out. This is a goal that he certainly can reach…and it will start this week, with Portis easily gaining over 100 yards against the Giants.
Advantage - Portis
Laveranues Coles vs. Will Peterson
by Fran Farren
It is often difficult to assess a wide receiver match-up without also equating the quarterback's ability to get him the ball. So far this year, the Redskins’ QBs have simply not gotten the job done in getting the ball down field to their wide receivers.
You will see a lot of short passes like the “quick out” to the wide receiver, especially to Coles. What we’re not seeing, however, are those 20-yard post pattern passes or 20-yard out passes. The downfield passing game of the Redskins is simply non-existent right now.
Giants cornerback Will Peterson is good, but he certainly can be beat. He has the speed to make up ground on a wide receiver, however, he tends to play off receivers which will present openings for Ramsey and Coles to exploit.
But the way the offense has been struggling, will they?