Well the New England defense has finally allowed the first offensive unit to find the end zone against them this year. The divisional matchup in Buffalo proved to be all the Patriots could handle as they squeaked out a six point victory, but as the saying goes: “Not all wins are pretty”. Not all victories are going to be blowouts and as Matthew Slater acknowledged in the postgame locker room celebration footage that was released through Patriots.com, not all games can be like the first three games. Nevertheless the Patriots this week find themselves heading to Washington to take on the hapless Redskins, who are hoping to get their first win.
1st Down: As with other weeks the Patriots have a few ties to their opponent through both coaches and players. However, there are very few ties to them this week. The only player who is a former Patriot is linebacker Jon Bostic, who was a special teamer for the Patriots. On the coaching side of things, the Redskins have one coach who may jog the memory of some fans: Kevin O’Connell who was once thought of as the heir to Tom Brady as a former third-round pick, is their current offensive coordinator. O’Connell is well thought of in the coaching ranks.
2nd Down: On the offensive side of the ball the Redskins are unlikely to be able to test the Patriots if their season stats to this point are any indication. The Redskins are 28th in the NFL in total yardage, 16th in passing yardage per game, and 31st in rushing yards per game. There is also the fact that Jay Gruden hasn’t yet named a starting quarterback for this upcoming game with the decision being between Colt McCoy, Case Keenum and rookie Dwayne Haskins. I think the Redskins are leaning with Colt McCoy to see if they can salvage anything before going to Haskins full-time, but Gruden is unlikely to make a decision on who is playing until the final minute for strategic purposes as all three are very different.
3rd Down: On the defensive side of the ball, the Redskins have some serious issues as they are 28th in the league total yards allowed, surrendering a putrid 399.2 yards per game. They are towards the middle of the pack in rushing defense at 18th in the NFL, but they’re 29th against the pass, something that should be able to help jumpstart the Patriots’ offense once again. Particularly their once prized acquisition, Josh Norman, has looked anything but a shutdown corner recently, getting burned multiple times over the start of the season. If you want a true depiction of just how thin they are at corner, the third name on the list is Aaron Colvin. Colvin was released by the Texans after a brutal game against the Saints, but also after signing a four-year $34 million deal with the Texans THIS offseason. If everyone is healthy and a go, you have to think Josh Gordon could have a couple of deep shots headed his way this week and Brady will no doubt look his way.
4th Down: Before losing Stephen Gostkowski most fans had been clamoring for him to be replaced numerous times over the last few seasons. Gostkowski after all, had struggled to start the year, missing four extra points in just as many games. However, one can’t help but admire his professionalism. Gostkowski was always at his locker answering tough questions any time he had a tough game, something that is not always the case in today’s game. He also worked diligently and was a weapon on kickoffs putting the ball wherever the coaches wanted it. There is a reason why his teammates loved him, and the fact he didn’t make excuses despite having a very good one this year says all you need to know about him.
The result of that though is Mike Nugent coming aboard. With that, there is a strong possibility that Jake Bailey takes kickoffs with Nugent not possessing the kind of leg strength that result in touchbacks. Bailey was a top rated kicker coming out of high school before becoming a punter at Stanford. Moreover, with Nugent there is a strong likelihood that Belichick attempts to go for more fourth downs. After all, Belichick is aggressive, but Gostkowski earned his trust with a number of huge kicks in his day.
Prediction: Patriots 34, Redskins 9
The Patriots had a tough game last week as the Bills defense is legit. (2nd the Patriots total defense) This game I think will get them closer to a performance like they had against the Jets. The Redskins are creative with their offense, but just do not possess the talent needed to test the Pats’ corners. Paul Richardson is a speedster and rookie Terry McLaurin is a gamer but is not healthy even if he plays. I think the Patriots offense breaks out again and reminds people although they may not always put up 40 points, they can still move the ball on teams. Look for Josh Gordon to have a big game on Josh Norman as they look to restablsh him.
–David Albiani is a Staff Writer for Full Press Coverage and covers the New England Patriots. Follow him on Twitter @david_albiani