Giants-Redskins: Defense Has No Answer for Alfred Morris, Robert Griffin III
Jim Mancari , Contributor
It always seems that every time the Giants have a chance to lock up the NFC East earlier than the final week of the season, they falter.
Monday night’s 17-16 loss continues this trend, as the defense couldn’t stop Washington’s rushing attack.
The Redskins came into the game ranked second in the NFL with 162.9 rushing yards per game, and they shattered that mark, rushing for 207 yards with an average of 6.7 yards per carry. The majority of these runs were right up the middle.
Alfred Morris gained 124 yards on 22 carries, setting the Redskins rookie record for rushing yards in a season. Robert Griffin III added 72 yards on the ground, setting the NFL record for rushing yards by a rookie quarterback previously held by Cam Newton.
The Redskins caught a break on their first touchdown, as a Griffin III fumble turned into a Joshua Morgan touchdown.
The Giants knew coming into the game that it would be difficult to stop RGIII. Therefore, their best form of defense was a sustained offensive attack. With Griffin III on the sidelines, he couldn’t do any damage.
That plan worked in the first half, as the Giants dominated the time of possession battle, 20:28 to 9:28. But again, the Giants’ offense settled for field goals.
The second half saw the Giants look very confused on defense and rightfully so against RGIII. It’s tough for a defense to scheme against the run, the pass, play action and the option.
On numerous occasions, the Giants’ defensive ends over-pursued their lanes, which allowed Griffin III or Morris to escape around the edge.
But when the Giants contained around the edges, Griffin III was effective passing over the middle, mainly to Pierre Garcon who caught eight balls for 106 yards.
Chase Blackburn came up with a huge strip in the third quarter on Morris as the Redskins were driving. Keith Rivers recovered the fumble, but again the Giants’ offense could only manage a field goal.
In response, Griffin III orchestrated a 12-play, 86-yard scoring drive that took up 6:38. The Giants simply couldn’t handle Washington’s combined rushing and passing attack.
Big Blue’s defense did come up with a huge stop with 6:17 remaining in the fourth, but offensive penalties forced the Giants to punt. Morris just chipped away on the Redskins’ final drive to seal the win.
Again, how do you stop a dual threat that can burn you in so many ways? If you contain against the run, Griffin III will pass, and if you drop back into pass coverage, he’ll run.
Morris ran the ball hard, but there’s no reason why he should be consistently running the ball for five or six yards right up the middle. An adjustment needs to be made among the front seven to prevent that.
The Giants really didn’t give up many huge plays in this game like they’ve been accustomed to doing, but they gave up a ton of 10-15-yard running plays. They all add up in the end, however.
The Giants now hold just a one-game lead in the division over the Cowboys and Redskins. The schedule does not let up for Big Blue as they’ll host the Saints this Sunday.
Follow Jim Mancari on Twitter @JMMancari.