Article by guest contributor Joey Billhimer
In what looks to be a ‘must-win’ game, John Beck leads the Washington Redskins (3-5) to South Beach to take on the Miami Dolphins (1-7). The Dolphins are coming off a much needed blow-out victory, defeating the surging Kansas City Chiefs. On the other hand, the Redskins have lost in four straight contests, having won their last game in early October against the depleted St. Louis Rams. Both teams have the power and tools to win this match-up, but only one will prevail. Here are some key statistical comparisons for Sunday’s game:
This is a category that has haunted both teams all season long.
WSH: Rex Grossman lost his starting position to John Beck in Week 6. So far, neither have looked impressive. John Beck has a 60.6 completion percentage, having thrown for 858 yards, 2 TD’s, and 4 interceptions.
MIA: The situation isn’t much prettier in Miami either. Losing starter Chad Henne to what may be a season-ending shoulder injury was a major blow. His replacement Matt Moore, did not please Dolphin fans too much, until his 3 touchdown performance last week against the Chiefs. Moore has thrown for 950 yards, completing 61.6% of his passes, with 4 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. Look for both quarterbacks to stick with short, simple passes to their go-to guys.
Although both teams have a lot talent at this position, the “groove” just hasn’t been found. The Dolphins acquired Reggie Bush from the Saints this offseason, and the Redskins drafted rookie Roy Helu from Nebraska and Tim Hightower from the Arizona Cardinals. With Hightower on IR for a knee injury, the rookie Helu is starting in D.C. In his first start last week against San Francisco, the former Nebraska star set a Redskins record with 13 receptions for 104 yards. For the year, Helu has rushed for 172 yards, averaging just 4.6 yards per carry. In Miami, Reggie Bush has finally gotten the chance to be “the man.” After a rough start, Bush has run the ball 88 times for 427 yards, averaging 4.9 yards per carry with one T.D. With both offensive lines looking better last week, expect both teams to have a decent running game.
WSH: With Santana Moss sidelined with an injury, center stage has opened up for young Washington receivers. Veteran Jabar Gaffney leads the pack of youngsters with 31 receptions for 441 yards and 2 touchdowns. Yet he isn’t even the stand-out. That would be tight-end Fred Davis, who is leading the team with 40 receptions, 559 yards, along with two touchdowns. Washington is averaging 228.3 yards per game in passing. And if the young receivers can come through, look for a big day in the passing game.
MIA: After complaining for most of the season, and telling his coaches he will try to improve, Brandon Marshall is back in wide-receiver mode. With 644 yards and 2 touchdowns, Marshall leads the team. He is closely followed by Davone Bess, who is has 323 receiving yards on the year. If these two fast competitors can get past the Redskins tight secondary, Brandon Marshall may be looking at a record day.
Easily the biggest factor in this week’s match-up, it will determine who comes out on top. Here is an up-close look at some key positions for both teams:
WSH: The trio of Ryan Kerrigan, Brian Orakapo, and London Fletcher has been quite the treat for ‘Skins fan this season. With bone crushing mentality on every hit, this wall of monsters make it hard rfor any player to take the ball up the middle. The three have combined for 138 tackles, 9 sacks, 3 interceptions, and five forced fumbles.
MIA: Miami also has a nice linebacker crew with Karlos Dansby and Kevin Barnett, who have 46 tackles and 37 tackles, respectively. That’s not it. Miami has a beast inside of Cameron Wake, who has 18 solo tackles with almost 6 sacks, always proving to be a pain for offensive linesmen.
WSH: Led by loud-mouthed veteran DeAngelo Hall, the Redskins secondary has looked rather disappointing this season. Surrendering big plays, not playing man-on-man close enough with big time receivers (Larry Fitzgerald) and simple missed tackles has really put a dagger in the defense’s heart. Also injuries have plagued the defense, some of the biggest being SS LaRon Landry, CB DeAngelo Hall, and FS Oshiomogho Atogwe. This secondary has allowed an average of 218 yards per game in passing, and those numbers will not make the play-offs.
MIA: Miami hasn’t impressed in the secondary either, giving up 265 yards per game to opposing quarterbacks, and over 3,000 yards on total offense. Yeremiah Bell leads the team in tackles, with a solid 49 solo tackles. Rookie cornerback Jimmy Wilson has also looked decent, with 15 tackles, 2 forced fumbles, 1 interception, and 5 block pass attempts.
WSH: Place kicker, Graham Gano, overcame a slow start making 12-16 so far on the year, including a Redskins franchise record 59 yard field goal. New punter, Sav Rocca, a has adopted well; punting 37 times, with 17 landing inside the 20, and a season high 63 yard boot. Return specialist Brandon Banks took in all the preseason criticism, and turned it into a decent return game. Banks has returned 26 kick-offs for 618 yards, along with 21 punts for 177 yards.
MIA: Place kicker, Dan Carpenter, has had a nice year, with 16 makes on 19 attempts, with a long of 51. Punter Brandon Fields has booted 40 times, landing 17 of them inside the red-zone. He has a season long 70 yard punt. Kick returner Clyde Gates has 19 returns for 419 yards, while punt returner Davone Bess has returned 15 for 180 yards with no touchdowns.
Redskins 14-13: The Redskins shifted offensive line should be able to hold off a mediocre Miami defense, and allow Roy Helu to find gaps, and give John Beck some breathing room. Also, if their receivers can execute their routes precisely, John Beck will have the opportunity to make big plays. Look for a lot of punts from both teams and a few long field goals for each as well.