We’ve come to the point of the week where we swap questions with the folks from the SB Nation blog of the Minnesota Vikings’ opponents for this week. This week, the Vikings are traveling to the nation’s capital to take on the Washington Redskins.
I exchanged five questions with Alex Rowsey, one of the bloggers over at Hogs Haven (which, to this day, I still read the URL for as “Hog Shaven” for reasons I’m not sure of). Once he has my responses to his questions posted over at their site, I will link to it here and put it on the front page of our site. In the meantime, here are Alex’s answers to the questions I had for him.
1) Going into this season, the Redskins had a question at quarterback concerning Kirk Cousins. Rather than signing him to a long-term deal, they chose to let him play this season on the Franchise tag. Has he done enough to this point to convince you that he's the long-term answer?
Personally, yes, he has. I think the FO made the right choice in giving him the tag this season and I think it's been beneficial for both the team and Kirk. So far, we've gotten to see that Kirk is a solid, good starting QB in this league though not elite. Replacing him with someone as good or better would be an extremely difficult task right now. I think the FO knows they're going to have to pay him big money and it's worth it. I think Kirk realizes that he's not elite and that while he probably won't be getting elite money, he'll be getting a very good payday and the security and comfort that comes with a long-term deal. I also think he likes being a Redskin. The tricky part is the obvious fact that the 'Skins need Kirk more than Kirk needs the 'Skins. I hope that he'll take a look at a guy like Brock Osweiler and realize that going for the biggest paycheck isn't always the best move. Kirk doesn't strike anyone as a very greedy person and I think he's sensible enough to take a great contract to stay in a place where he's comfortable and setup to succeed long-term. Something like $17M/yr should be in order. Of course, we still have the second-half of the season to play out...
2) The Redskins made some news on defense during the off-season by signing cornerback Josh Norman after he was unceremoniously dumped by the Carolina Panthers. Do you think he's been everything he was advertised to be?
I do. He's been outstanding. He's easily one of the top few CBs in the league and he's been worth it. I think we're seeing the Panthers missing him and he's obviously the best defender on the 'Skins. He's had a game or two where he gives up some stats, but he's been better than not. He typically shuts his guy down and even when he's given up catches, they haven't been the kind that really lose the game. He had some trouble with OBJ and A.J. Green, and he racked up way too many penalties trying to cover Green, but he's locked down everyone else and even though OBJ got stats, Norman got in his head (obviously) and the 'Skins won the game. He's elite and can typically take away a receiver. I also just think he's been a good member of the team off the field. He's liked and seems to be a good leader. His teammates like him and he improves the defense in a number of ways.
3) Recently, the Redskins lost left tackle Trent Williams to a four-game suspension. Who will be stepping up in his place at left tackle, and do you think he'll be able to hold up to the pressure?
Williams' replacement will be Ty Nsekhe. At 6'8" and 335 lbs., the 31-year-old Nsekhe is a mountain of a man. He's played in 23 games with 2 starts in his NFL career and has really been a very solid reserve/swing tackle for the 'Skins. Most Redskin fans believe Nsekhe is starter-caliber and could start on a number of teams. He also seems to do better at LT than RT (in my personal opinion). Still, losing Trent is obviously a huge blow. He might be the best player on the team and the best LT in the league. There's no replacing that. Nsekhe's good and I think he can handle the pressure adequately, but Williams he is not. Luckily, the Redskins have an offense predicated on getting the ball out very quick on a lot of short, easy throws and Kirk excels in that area. He doesn't get sacked a ton and that's largely on the fact that he gets the ball out very quickly.
4) Give us one player on each side of the ball that Vikings fans might not know about that you think will play a big role in determining the outcome of this week's game.
The Redskins have an outstanding punter in Tress Way. Most fans don't know the opposing team's punter, but Way is one of the best in the league. He got robbed of a Pro Bowl spot last year. The Redskins have a very good offense and don't punt a lot, but when they do, Way plays a huge role and is a major asset.
The guy on defense is OLB Trent Murphy. Trent's 25 and in his third season. He was a second-round pick who led the NCAA in sacks the year he was drafted. He's been mediocre at best over his first two seasons with a combined 6 sacks. Halfway through this season, he already has 6. He's really come into his own after bulking up to play DE this year only to be asked to switch back to OLB after Junior Galette was lost for the year. Combining him with Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith gives the Redskins a formidable trio at OLB. All three know how to get to the QB and play the run. All three are pretty big guys, too.
On offense I'm going to say TE Vernon Davis. I have no doubt Vikings fans know about Vernon Davis, but I don't know if they really know about the 32-year-old, Washington Redskin Vernon Davis. He's still a very good TE with elite athleticism and speed. He's also the best blocker the Redskins have at TE and helps a lot as an in-line blocker in the run game. Vernon had fallen off over the past two seasons. Last year he never really caught on with Denver after being traded mid-season and suffered from missing out on an off-season in the offense and drops. Being with the Redskins for the whole season and playing a little less thanks to the presence of Jordan Reed has helped Davis look like his old self. He had 640 yards and 2 TDs over the last two seasons combined. Halfway through this season and he's already at 316 yards and 1 TD. He's basically on pace to amass his statistics from the last two years in this one season alone... playing behind Jordan Reed. I think that's pretty impressive. He plays a pretty significant role in the Redskins offense thanks to his blocking and still great ability to get open with speed and athleticism. He'll make an impact Sunday.
5) Who do you think is going to win on Sunday and why?
I think the Redskins are going to win a close one, 22-20. The Redskins have the advantage at home and the Vikings seem to be reeling after losing three straight. I think if the 'Skins can get an early lead, the Vikings may really start to doubt themselves. The Vikings have a great defense, but I think their offense is suffering right now. Injuries, a coaching change, a losing streak... That stuff can be hard to overcome, especially on the road. The Redskins are refreshed coming off of a bye week, too. And even though the Vikings #3 ranked defense is elite, the Redskins offense is ranked #4 in the league. Their defense has improved dramatically as the season has gone on and STs have been a strength overall. Still, I can't pick a team with a defense like Minnesota's really getting blown out.
Thanks to Alex for taking the time to answer our questions about the Redskins.