In every NFL matchup, there are a seemingly endless amount of angles to analyze. It's hard to get to them all during the week of practice, and I'm sure there were some that slipped through the cracks despite all of the Vikings vs. Redskins preview content we provided on vikings.com this week.
With kickoff fast approaching, here are a few final thoughts on today's Vikings-Redskins contest.
How to Take in Today's Game Game Time: 12:00 p.m. CT TV:FOXRadio:Vikings Radio Network; KFAN-FM 100.3/KTCN-AM 1130Mobile:NFL Mobile (exclusively on Verizon)
Cordarrelle Patterson is trending up, and could go higher todayLast week in Tampa Bay, Cordarrelle Patterson was targeted a season-high 12 times, and he responded by coming away with season-highs in catches (6), receiving yards (68) and receptions for 1st downs (4). This week while speaking to reporters, Patterson was complementary of the progress rookie QB Teddy Bridgewater is making and he explained that the two had a great week of practice together leading into the Buccaneers game.
Look for the Vikings to build upon last week's production by Patterson. The Redskins have been an aggressive blitzing team so far in 2014, but they rarely bring cornerbacks on blitzes. Their pressure packages are primarily with linebackers and safeties, and a lot of the time the packages ask the cornerbacks to play off coverage. If that's the case today, the Vikings may be able to hit Patterson in the quick game and the screen game, and then once the Redskins compensate for that it could open things up down the field. In both instances, it won't be surprising to see the ball get to Patterson.
RG3 brings unknown to matchupBy this point in the season we usually have a pretty good idea about each team. Eight games is a fair sample size to use. That is not the case with the Washington Redskins, though. They have started three different quarterbacks in the first eight games and it's expected they'll start a different one this week than they did in last week's Monday Night Football win over the Dallas Cowboys.
It's been widely reported that Robert Griffin III, who hasn't played since Week 2 because of an ankle injury, will be the team's starter. His inclusion adds a great unknown to the Vikings-Redskins matchup. We know Griffin III can be a great player. He took the League by storm as a rookie in 2012, completing 65.6% of his passes with a 20-5 touchdown-interception ratio. He also had 815 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns. Vikings fans are especially familiar with Griffin III's abilities because in two games against the Vikings Griffin III is 41 of 59 (69.5%) for 463 yards with four touchdowns and one interception; he also has 182 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries.
But the dynamic playmaker has also had some tough times. He's dealt with two serious injuries now and last year threw at least one interception in 10 of 13 games. He also took 2.9 sacks per game in 2013, including 24 in the final five games.
Today, I would expect Griffin III to be at his best. He is coming off a long layoff and the Redskins are a 3-5 team, but he's also going to be fresh and also consider that before his injury Griffin III was 31 of 40 for 305 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions – pretty solid numbers.
Griffen, Robison are first defense vs. Zone-Read/Read-OptionWhether it's Griffin III or Colt McCoy at quarterback for the Redskins today, the Vikings will be tasked with defending the zone read. In doing so, it'll be DEs Everson Griffen and Brian Robison who will key the defense.
Often times in the Redskins zone read strategy, the offensive tackle to the play side will leave the defensive end unblocked in order to either double down on the defensive tackle (if he's shaded to the outside shoulder of the guard) or go up to the second level to block a linebacker (if the defensive tackle in shaded to the inside shoulder of the guard). The quarterback then reads the defensive end. If the end crashes on the running back, the quarterback keeps the ball. If the end hesitates or takes the quarterback, then the quarterback hands the ball to the running back.
However Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer and Defensive Coordinator George Edwards have designed it, expect Griffen and Robison to be important parts of the plan. They will likely be unblocked defenders on several snaps today and their reaction on those plays could set the tone for the rest of the defense.
To find the ball, follow FB Darrel YoungRedskins FB Darrel Young is not a household name, at least not in Minnesota. But he's a player worth watching today when the Vikings defense is trying to defend the Redskins offense. Young is the Redskins starting FB. And while he's averaged just 14 snaps per game, he sees plenty of action on his snaps. On 77 of Young's 109 (70.6%) meaningful snaps (non-kneel downs, non-spikes), the Redskins have used the fullback as a lead blocker, a rusher or a receiver.
If Young played the majority of the snaps, this rate wouldn't represent a significant trend. But given that he plays in just 22.2% of the snaps, the fact that he's a lead blocker or ball-handler nearly 71% of the time, he's worth watching. On the season, Young has seven receptions for 63 yards and two touchdown as well as four rushes for 17 yards and one touchdown.