By Curt Macysyn
The New York Giants (0-2) host the Washington Redskins (1-1) on Thursday night at the Meadowlands. New York has won four straight games against the team from the nation’s capital, and usually the ‘Skins are the tonic that cure whatever ills Big Blue. One year ago, almost to the day, the Giants intercepted quarterback Kirk Cousins four times, en route to a 45-14 shellacking at FedEx Field.READ MORE: New York City Announces First-In-The-Nation Vaccine Mandate For Private Companies
The Redskins endured an off season of change as new general manager Scot McCloughan was brought in to the right the ship after the franchise endured two tumultuous seasons since making the playoffs in 2012. Largely the Redskins’ playoff run in 2012 was fueled by quarterback Robert Griffin III, but the young quarterback came back early from a knee injury and has not been the same since. Reports emanating from Washington indicated that the team was looking to move away from RG3, even before a late preseason concussion landed him on the bench.
In their season opener two weeks ago, the Redskins hung tough with the Miami Dolphins on the road, before Miami got a fourth quarter Jarvis Landry punt return touchdown to squeak out a 17-10 victory. This past Sunday, in their home opener, the Redskins jumped out to a 17-0 lead against the St. Louis Rams and coasted to a 24-10 victory to even their season record to 1-1.
Even without star receiver DeSean Jackson, who is out of action with a hamstring injury, quarterback Kirk Cousins has embraced the starting job. Cousins went 23-27 (85 percent) against the Rams on Sunday, after going 21-31 (68 percent) against the Dolphins. Cousins can get sloppy with his passes, but the veteran from Michigan State played clean against St. Louis after throwing two picks against the Dolphins. The Giants would like to rattle Cousins early, and weaken his confidence level.
Rookie running back Matt Jones has been a revelation, and he scored twice against the Rams. Jones had 123 yards on the ground on Sunday, and averaged 6.5 yards per carry. So far the Giants have been respectable in their rush defense, but the Redskins also have Giant-killer Alfred Morris available as well. Tight end Jordan Reed has 13 receptions on the young season, including a touchdown grab against the Dolphins. Veteran wide receiver Pierre Garcon has 12 catches, including a touchdown as well.
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The Redskins defense is revamped and led by safety Trenton Robinson, who leads the team with 14 tackles. Linebacker Keenan Robinson has been a solid performer and has 11 tackles on the season. Veteran Dashon Goldson was brought in after being released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and he loves to bring the lumber from his safety position. Another veteran signing was defensive lineman Steven Paea, who played four seasons with the Chicago Bears. Paea has one sack and five tackles on the season.
The Giants usually have difficulty containing hybrid linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, but Kerrigan only has half a sack and six tackles thus far in two games. Ageless wonder DeAngelo Hall returns for his 13th NFL season and eighth in a Redskins uniform. Hall ruptured his Achilles tendon last year, and many thought that would be his swan song, but he is back.
Players to Watch
In the pass-happy NFL, the Redskins are throwbacks and still are a run-first squad. The Giants need to be aware of running back Alfred Morris at all times, or he can take over the game. Morris is averaging 90 yards on the ground per game, with an average of 4.2 yards per carry.
Defensively, the Redskins rely on Ryan Kerrigan to pressure the quarterback, but if the Giants’ offensive line can mitigate Kerrigan’s impact, then Manning should be able to pick apart the Washington secondary.
Last year, the Giants beat the Redskins twice and had two separate three-touchdown performances to boot. In the September 25, 2014 match-up, tight end Larry Donnell caught three TD passes from Eli Manning. Donnell has not matched the same level of success since that game. On December 14, 2014 at the Meadowlands, Odell Beckham, Jr. shredded the Redskins defense for three scores in leading the Giants to a 24-13 victory.
On Thursday, the Redskins secondary will have a tough time keeping up with Beckham, and he will make a huge difference this week as the G-men secure their first win. Beckham likes playing before a national television audience, and he will not disappoint in helping the Giants get in the win column.MORE NEWS: Fire Officials: Powerful Winds Blow Jersey City Building Under Construction 5-10 Feet Off Foundation
Curt Macysyn has been covering the New York Football Giants for the past four seasons for Examiner.com, and he is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA). Born and raised in New Jersey, Curt attended Seton Hall Prep School in South Orange, N.J. and is a graduate of Rutgers University – New Brunswick. Follow him on Twitter @CurtMac23 for the latest NFL and New York Giants news.