With the quick turnaround between games for the Minnesota Vikings and the Washington Redskins, we managed to get our Five Good Questions in with the SB Nation bloggers from this week's opponents. I exchanged those questions with Kevin Ewoldt of Hogs Haven, and here's what he sent back my direction. If you'd like to see how I answered the questions that he posed to me, you can find those right here.
1) We here in Viking land went through Adrian Peterson going through the recovery process for his torn ACL during the 2012 season and how he responded. How has Robert Griffin III's recovery from the same injury gone as this season has progressed?
It's been extremely painful. All off-season fans and media wanted daily updates on his readiness for Week 1 and training camp. When he was doing sprints and cuts in minicamps, the expactations were set for a full recovery. The decision to bench him all of pre-season, which seemed like the only solution, has basically led to his first four weeks of the season being his pre-season. Early on in the regular season, Robert deservingly was given the nickname "RGIII and Out" as the Skins offense was putrid. There was no running threat as the read option was gone and it was clear Robert was not trusting his plant foot on his throws. That has all gone away and the last few weeks he has returned to form. He is currently on pace to break the Redskins franchise record for most passing yards in a season. While his accuracy is not as perfect as last year and he is still taking hard hits week in and week out, the Redskins offense is posting lots of points.
2) Do you feel that all of the recent focus on the Redskins nickname is detracting from the focus on the on-field product at all? As someone that has to cover both, how have you folks handled it?
It has not been a distraction for the team. The media knows they have too much on their plate to worry about such things. In addition, players come and go from teams so often it's well known most NFL players don't have a vested interest in team politics. Dan Snyder and Bruce Allen however get bombarded quite a lot. As for our website, most of the readers are beyond sick of the topic, but any mention of the name spurs nearly 300+ comments in a couple hours. Both Ken Meringolo (Hogs Haven Co-Editor) and I have made our stances known that we're OK with a name change. I laid out my reasons why in this post.
3) The NFC East has been. . .well, interesting, thus far. The Redskins find themselves in a similar situation to last year, when they were also 3-5 after their first 8 games. What will they have to do to pull off the same sort of comeback they did in 2012, when they went from that 3-5 record to 10-6 and an NFC East Division title?
I was at an event in D.C. last week and I asked Redskins Strong Safety, Reed Doughty, about the slow start, what's next and he replied "winning seven games two years in a row just doesn't happen." He didn't mean that the team is giving up, it's just the reality given the Redskins essentially have 25 games on tape now of their offense. The element of surprise is gone. For the Redskins to run the table again, players that didn't contribute last year, like rookies Bacarri Rambo and Jordan Reed, need to contribute at a high level and consistently. It's not out of the realm of possibility...but rookies are known for inconsistency and one mistake can be the difference in the 4th quarter. At least the entire team is healthy!
4) While the Redskins' offense has been putting up a decent amount of yards and points, the defense is at the bottom of a lot of statistical categories halfway through the season. What have been the biggest issues on that side of the ball for Washington?
The Redskins have not even come close to finding a starting caliber Free Safety since Sean Taylor died. This year they have been rotating Strong Safeties over there and even employing 1-high with SS Brandon Meriweather. Last year was 17 weeks of Madieu Williams. Vomit. It's been really rough. Sixth round draft pick, rookie FS, Bacarri Rambo, was benched early for the inconsistent play (missed tackles, bad angles), but he is starting to see more time now. The pass rush has been solid with Kerrigan and Orakpo but WRs have been running wild and the Redskins were leading the league in missed tackles as of a couple weeks ago.
5) Give us one guy on each side of the ball that Vikings' fans might not be familiar with that you feel will play a big role for the Redskins on Thursday night.
On offense, without a doubt, it's TE Jordan Reed. The kid has it all: size, speed, hands...and his blocking has improved a lot since week one. RGIII finds him often and when Reed has the ball, things happen. (things = TDs)
On defense, I'll go with rookie CB, David Amerson. He's been an INT machine the last few weeks. While he's been inconsistent in coverage, he's good for at least one big play each game. Given the Vikings 2013 season, hopefully that play happens in the 59th minute on the play clock.