Today I caught up with Redskins’ blogger Anthony Brown to go over his thoughts on the Redskins and the game Sunday. Anthony runs Redskins Hog Heaven, a top notch Redskins blog that you can find right here on the Bloguin Network. Anthony is also very active on twitter and a worthwile follow. I highly recommend you check his stuff out and make sure you go to his site to brush up on the Redskins before the game on Sunday. Anthony asked me some questions about the game as well which you can check going by going HERE. Many thanks to Anthony for taking the time, it’s much appreciated. Make the jump for 10 questions on the Redskins @ Saints matchup!
Saints Nation: How relieved are you that you go into this season with RG3 instead of the Grossman/Beck carousel? As a fan that’s got to be a huge relief.
Redskins Hog Heaven: Search my site for “giddy as a school girl.” It’s repeated numerous times. After the disappointment of Donovan McNabb and the disaster that was Rex Grossman and John Beck, Redskins fans are not ashamed of their quarterback anymore.
SN: How are fans feeling about RG3 at the moment? Is he already anointed as the next messiah or is there cautious optimism?
RHH: Is that a trick question? Fans see Griffin III as the savior of Redskins football. Redskins Hog Heaven wants readers to take the cautious optimism route. For a start, Griffin has fewer game reps than Kirk Cousins. Andrew Luck made 35 more preseason pass attempts than Griffin. Griffin is so under wraps that we haven’t see enough pass attempts to know his normalized performance. The preseason offense was plain vanilla and not what Mike Shanahan is scheming for him. Griffin showed himself to be a talented rookie. What to you get if you cross an elephant with a rhino? Eleph-ino. That’s what I expect for Griffin this year. I do believe Washington has a very bright future with RG3.
SN: Your running backs are Royster, Helu and Morris. Is it misguided of me not to be scared by these guys? Is the running attack a weakness for the Redskins or do you expect big things from those guys?
RHH: Fear Mike Shanahan’s running scheme. This is not the first time that he has plucked unknowns and made them stars. Of course he’s done better with franchise rushers (Terrell Davis, Bronco Clinton Portis), but Royster, Helu and Morris offer Shanahan as much as Mike Anderson did. You will see hard running by young players whose bodies are still adapting to the NFL. Thus, none will be featured. Rotation is more helpful. Pass blocking is another story.
SN: My inkling is the Skins’ offense is weakest on the right side of the line, especially with Jammal Brown injured. Do you agree that the best way to attack their offense is to expose that right side of the line and continually attack it?
RHH: It’s no inkling. The right side has been an issue since the Redskins kicked RT Jon Jansen to the curb (2009). Jammal Brown never regained the Pro Bowl form of his Saints’ years. I admire him for playing through rehab, but this has been a forlorn hope. Journeyman Tyler Polumbus is filling in for now. The line is in its third season of Shanahan’s zone blocking scheme. We hope that scheme and execution will balance the scales.
SN: Defensively, are the Redskins still as good as they used to be or have they fallen off a bit?
RHH: (See below)
SN: I sense this defense is all about their linebackers with Riley, Fletcher, Kerrigan and Orakpo. Is that accurate? Would you say they are very strong and linebacker and a little light everywhere else – or am I off base?
RHH: The defensive front seven is as good as any in the NFL. Some day, London Fletcher will slow down, but there is no hint of it in his performance in recent seasons. I’m looking for double-digit sacks from Orakpo this season, and something close to it from Kerrigan. DE Jarvis Jenkins drew rave reviews preseason 2011 before a ACL injury knocked out of the entire regular season. He is the secret weapon. I don’t expect him to be in game condition until game six or later, but he is in the rotation. Perry Riley is a better fit for the 3-4 alignment than Rocky McIntosh, the man he replaced. Defense is the main reason the 2012 Redskins will improve over 5-11.
SN: If you are the Saints offense, how do you go about attacking the Skins defense? What is the best way to be successful against them?
RHH: Test the safeties and target DeAngelo Hall. S Tanard Jackson’s suspension is a blow. He was having a good preseason. S Madieu Williams struggled a bit. DeJon Gomes is a developing player. DeAngelo Hall is the Rex Grossman of the secondary. He takes chances to win a game. It’s wonderful when it works, and Grossman-bad when it does not. I do not trust Hall in man coverage with no safety help. Shootouts are my greatest fear with this defense.
SN: After being 5-11 with no real QB last year, I’m assuming you have higher hopes for how this year pans out. What do you think the ceiling of this Redskins’ team is?
RHH: The ceiling is nine wins. The realistic expectation is somewhere near .500, good for division third-place. Those people calling for 2 to 4 wins are out of their heads. The Redskins did not become a worse team during the offseason.
SN: I’m curious what the locals think of Jim Haslett. He’s the defensive coordinator of the Skins and there’s mixed feelings about him in NOLA. Obviously he coached the team to their first playoff win, so he’s had some success, but his demise is attached to his loyalty to Aaron Brooks – a quarterback that couldn’t cut it that Haslett was committed to regardless of what it meant for job security. Is he still as stubborn? Has he done a good job in Washington?
RHH: Mike and Kyle Shanahan suck the oxygen out of all coaching discussions. Offensive coordinator Kyle is especially controversial. Feelings were negative towards Haslett when the Redskins switched to the 3-4 defense. Transition struggles were inevitable and fans wanted Haslett fired. Fans and some owners (ahem) expect instant results. Opinion about Haslett has risen as the defense has improved.
SN: Give me a prediction on the final score.
RHH: I give the Redskins a chance. There is no better time to face the Saints than game one. They will not have all the kinks of the Bountygate sanctions worked out by the first game. No one outside of Redskins Park has seen the real RG3 offense. It takes defensive coordinators six or eight games to figure out how to game plan a player who brings a new element to the game. Scoring-challenged Washington put up over 30 points in three preseason games. Lets discount that to 24 points in a real game. Washington, with Jason Campbell at QB and without Clinton Portis, took New Orleans to the brink (33-30, OT) in 2009.
I’m calling it 27-24, Redskins.