Packers Periscope: Eyeing the Enemy (Washington)

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With the heated battle with the San Francisco 49ers behind them, the Green Bay Packers now move on to their home opener against Washington.

Last week, Washington was defeated by the Philadelphia Eagles 33-27 after their late charge fell short.  Washington was down 33-7 at one point after their defense was exhausted by the incredible pace of the new Eagles offense under head coach Chip Kelly, but quarterback Robert Griffin III was unable to bring his team all the way back.

It took Griffin a little bit to reclaim his form from last season but he finished the game 30/49 with 329 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.  His struggles early put his team in a bit of a hole while the Eagles’ high-octane offense left the Washington defense gasping for air early.

The last time we met

The last time Green Bay and Washington met was back in 2010 at FedEx Field where Washington beat Green Bay 16-13 that saw tight end Jermichael Finley go down for the year.  It was the game where the Packers’ injury problems that season really began to mount.

Green Bay was in position to win the game in the final second of regulation, but Mason Crosby’s 53-yard field goal attempt clanged off the left upright in a bit of foreshadowing for 2012. Aaron Rodgers had a pass intercepted late and it was a game no one really expected the Packers to lose.

This also was the last time the Packers had a 100 yard rusher in the game when Brandon Jackson ran for 115 yards.

What’s Up with Washington

Heading into the game against the Packers, a lot of hype will be around second-year quarterback Griffin. He had an outstanding rookie season that came to a crashing halt when he was injured in the playoff game against the Seahawks.  Coach Mike Shanahan felt it fit to run him into the ground that game anyway.

There is real concern out there that Griffin is not 100% thanks to Shanahan’s controversial decision in the playoffs. The Packers aren’t biting though, and they are preparing for Griffin based on what they see on film from last year according to the Washington post.

Any Shanahan-coached team always has a strong running back, and Washington thought they had one after last season in Alfred Morris.  Morris struggled badly against the Eagles last week, fumbling on the first snap of the game and finishing with a career-low 45 yards on 12 carries.  It’s too early to be talking about a sophomore slump, but Morris faces another tough test in the resurgent Green Bay rushing defense.

Washington also will the Packers’ first regular season opponent at new and improved Lambeau Field where the fans are sure to be pumped to watch the Packers come back from their Week 1 loss.  At least, that’s what the Packers hope.  Washington receiver Pierre Garcon didn’t seem too concerned about it and actually said he thought the team’s own FedEx Field was a louder stadium than Lambeau Field. Packer Nation will be looking to prove him wrong on Sunday.

Defensively, the Redskins struggled mightily early against the Eagles offense but that is understandable. Chip Kelly’s offense is different than anything the NFL has seen before and it might take time for the league to catch up and learn to scheme against that kind of an attack.

Washington faces another tough challenge in stopping Rodgers and the Packers’ aerial assault.  Washington’s defense is very respectful of the Green Bay quarterback and are aware of the task that awaits them.  They will be looking to get some pressure via a four man rush to get to Rodgers and disrupt his rhythm.

Shanahan has always played the Packers tough,  whether he was coaching Washington or the Denver Broncos.  The Packer have beaten him a few times, most notably on that dramatic Brett Favre hail mary in 2007, but the games have always been close.  Despite some serious fan criticism, Shanahan praised the Green Bay defense under Dom Capers, saying “Anytime you take a look at a defense that’s right at the top 10 from a year ago – 10th or 11th – that you know is going to play a very sound defense, very consistent with [defensive coordinator] Dom Capers over the years.”

This is a game many fans are looking at and seeing a Packers blowout win, but any team can win on any given Sunday.  Expect a tough battle against Washington.

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Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for AllGreenBayPackers.com and WTMJ in Milwaukee. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and his work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and CBSSports.com.

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  • Ed Schoenfeld

    I don’t know anyone who expects a blowout win by GB. For myself, any win will do.

    Hope Lacy and the OL can get the run game going and the defense (especially Safety paly) holds up against an option-capable QB who can also throw.

  • Dobber

    Not to hold up Washington’s game with Philly as the example, here, but getting off to a fast start will do a lot to simplify things on Sunday.

    Getting Alfred Morris out of the game and forcing the ‘Skins into a more pass-happy attack should be the goal…aside from winning, of course.

    • mudduckcheesehead

      “forcing the ‘Skins into a pass-happy attack should be the goal…”

      I’m not so sure about this strategy.

      • Dobber

        The other option would be to dare them to run, where you make RGIII, Morris, the read-option and play-action all part of the game. Knock those out and things become much simpler. These guys aren’t the Niners. Bring last week’s intensity and physicality and it all works out.

        • mudduckcheesehead

          The Skins may not be the Niners, but our pass defense is still our pass defense.

          All I heard In the run up to the Niners game was that we should make Kaepernick beat us with his arm.

          He did.

  • GBPDAN

    That strategy seems logical, but, without Burnett and Hayward, it didn’t work all that well last week. I hope Capers and his staff got through to the young safety’s on what they did wrong and I hope we get more of a pass rush then last week.

    The Skins D is better than they showed last weekand they have talent on O. The key to Washingtons O is RG3s legs, which opens up the whole offense. It appears that he was held back last week due to caution regarding his knee. I wonder if they will open things up more this week.

    I hope Burnett and Sitton play, but I hope thet are not brought back to early and re injure themselves.

  • Chad Toporski

    Someone has to make the middle of the field more protected… It’s not Jennings, McMillian, Jones, or Hawk, so if Hayward is out until after the Bye, then let’s cross our fingers that Burnett can play. Perhaps Banjo might surprise, but I’m not going to hold my breath on that.

  • Shavager

    Don’t see the Redskins team close to any threat the Niners are, Packers should have advantage on both offense and defense. Short of secondary laying down or a critical turnover late in game, Packers should win this game with stout run defense and pressure on a QB who is not as mobile right now as Kaepernick was last week. Packers 34-21.