Redskins vs Jets: Top 3 factors to ponder


Oct 4, 2015; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) drops back against the Philadelphia Eagles during the second half at FedEx Field. Washington Redskins won 23 – 20. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The Redskins vs Jets Week 6 matchup promises to be a good one as both are starting to turn things around.  This Sunday is a “trap game” for Gang Green, before their visit to New England next week to face the Patriots. 

This game is a classic pick-’em.

The Jets (3-1) and Redskins (2-3) stack up evenly in most regards.  Both major market franchises are undergoing similar transformations, from laughing-stock pretenders to rising contenders.  They both have finally hired competent front office personnel, who seem to be successfully wresting control of operations from meddlesome, gridiron-incompetent billionaire ownership.  Both are overcoming the disastrous results of previous regimes investing precious time and resources on overrated, immature young quarterbacks.  Both have die-hard, long-suffering fan bases that have become incredibly energized by recent on-field results.

Statistically speaking, both teams are essentially even — the Jets rank #2 in total defense, the Redskins #6; the Jets’ offense is #14 in the NFL, Washington #11.  The skill sets and field leadership skills of Ryan Fitzpatrick (78.1 QB rating) and Kirk Cousins (81.9) are comparable, and the rushing stats for Chris IvoryBilal Powell and Alfred MorrisMatt Jones virtually identical.  Similarities abound between the receiving tandems of Eric DeckerBrandon Marshall and Pierre Garçon-DeSean Jackson; the latter Skin to possibly make his season debut this Sunday against Gang Green.

For the Jets, this really feels like another “trap game.”  Last week’s London lashing of the Fins that resulted in former Cowboy TE Dan Campbell‘s rapid rise to Miami head coaching status, gave the Jets a restful recovery week back in Jersey to reflect at the 1/4 point of the season.  That game, preceded by their Monday Night massacre of the Colts that hastened Andrew Luck‘s trainer’s room stay, and their opening week win over the improving Browns, highlighted by Calvin Pryor‘s touchdown-stopping stomp on Josh McCown that left that veteran QB seeing stars for two weeks — set some overrated expectations.

Indeed who would’ve possibly thought a team, less than a year ago fielding offensive sets featuring Geno Smith throwing to Greg Salas and T.J. Graham, could possibly be spoken of in the same sentence as “viable wild-card playoff contenders.”  After getting trampled by the Eagles, the Jets want to avoid a similar result to another tough, physical NFC East opponent.

Here’s a few top factors to ponder as the Redskins come to MetLife Stadium this Sunday.

Next: 3. The New Skins

Oct 11, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden is shown before the Redskins game against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

3. The New Skins

Face it, both franchises had nowhere to go but up.

Let’s all forget about the bad ol’ days of trading three prime first round draft picks for Robert Griffin III.  Or of Mark Sanchez doin’ The Buttfumble.  Or of a certain super-sized head coach’s kinda-creepy foot fetish.  Quietly competent professionals are finally making the football decisions in New York and DC.

New Redskins GM Scot McCloughan has done a yeoman’s job of standing up to egomaniacal owner Daniel Snyder.  Gone are Snyder’s silly spending sprees of the team’s Albert Haynesworth-to-RG3 error.

Mel Kiper, Jr. rated McCloughan’s first draft the highest grade for any team, mostly for transforming the soft Skins with an infusion of nasty tough guys at every single positions.  Top draft selection Iowa lineman Brandon Scherff — chosen to keep their million-dollar quarterback RG3 upright — has shown a few flashes of becoming a future Hog with his name emblazoned in the Redskins Ring of Honor at FedEx Field in Greater Landover, Maryland.

NFL insiders are already paying close attention to later round selections like former Mississippi State outside linebacker Preston Smith, Florida running back Matt Jones, Duke wide receiver Jamison Crowder and Virginia Tech strong safety Kyshoen Jarrett.

Second-year head coach Jay Gruden — the Vince Lombardi of the Arena League and the lesser-known brother of celebrity Super Bowl-winning coach John Gruden — also deserves much responsibility and credit for the move toward a young, feisty roster.  Gruden, unlike his wildly overpaid predecessor Mike Shanahan, was able to hand over the team’s leadership to Kirk Cousins — a gritty QB unafraid to seize the moment; equal parts Joe Theismann and Jay Schroeder.  What Cousins lacks in running speed and arm strength, he adequately compensates with smarts and guts.

Get ready for a physical, spirited game by two franchises who now both believe that they can win.

Next: 2. The New Jets

Sep 27, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; A young fan looks on during the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at MetLife Stadium. The Philadelphia Eagles defeated the New York Jets 24-17. Mandatory Credit: Steven Ryan-USA TODAY Sports

2. The New Jets

While we’re extolling Washington’s front office, New York’s Mike Maccagnan also merits early votes for NFL Executive of the Year.  Previous entries have extolled what he’s done with the roster, but let’s spend a moment on how he continues to quietly amass young talent for the future.  The 10-man practice squad has even been quietly transformed with the addition of NFL-ready talent.

Gone are the practice squads of John Idzik’s misfits or of Mike Tannenbaum’s acquiescence to Mark Sanchez’s “bros” (see Scotty McKnight and Konrad Reuland).  Impressive training camp hopefuls like Rontez Miles, Taiwan Jones, Julian Howsare and Deion Barnes still remain part of the organization.

But since opening day, Maccagnan has scooped up surprise cuts such as former Chiefs pass-rushing physical freak Mike Catapano (“The Big Cat” from Long Island’s Chaminade High School and Princeton University), Patriots castoff Kenbrell Thompkins (a solid receiver with kick returning abilities), and Jeremy Kerley‘s possible replacement in undrafted slot receiver Titus Davis, who smashed all of Steelers star Antonio Brown‘s reception records at Central Michigan.

Even projects who started this season on the 53-man roster like strong safety Ronald Martin, a final cut by the Seahawks, and seventh-round pick Deon Simon, an unsung DT from Northwestern State-Louisiana, show promise.

The October 29 NFL trade deadline looms, and the fading 49ers are reportedly fielding offers for injured ten-year veteran tight end Vernon Davis.  Though admittedly his best days are very far behind him, the older brother of Colts CB Vontae Davis for a mid/low-round pick would be a major upgrade for Chan Gailey’s offense.

Not counting preseason-casualties-turned-Reserved/Injured-list TEs Jace Amaro and Zach Sudfield, and frustrating South Alabama rookie free agent Wes Saxton, Jr. recently waived to make way for Sheldon Richardson, all that remains on the roster is non-receiving bruising blocker Kellen Davis and a concussed, and ultimately disappointing, Jeff Cumberland.

Trader Mike, is it time to pull the trigger?

Next: 1. The New Attitude

Oct 4, 2015; London, United


dom; New York Jets fans before Game 12 of the NFL International Series between the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins at Wembley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports

1. The New Attitude

The Jets and Redskins are both geared and primed to turn things around.  They both exude the steely confidence of their head coaches.  And with such spirited competition, comes many sobering football realities.  For instance, both teams are already dealing with injuries to key players.

New York’s top draft pick Leonard Williams, an early candidate for Defensive Rookie of the Year, will get a few games off in order to rest his sprained ankle while Pro Bowler Sheldon Richardson works himself back into game shape.  Erin Henderson was a star inside linebacker for the Vikings before his well-documented personal issues, so he should be a competent temporary stand-in for the defense’s heart-and-soul David Harris (quad strain).  Calvin Pryor’s knee injury was less than feared, but in the mean time expect to see more of Jaiquawn Jarrett and recent Seattle import Dion Bailey.

Washington’s injuries are quickly mounting.  You know that Jets head coach Todd Bowles and his staff will fully exploit such weaknesses.  The Skins are particularly vulnerable at cornerback with injuries to starters DeAngelo Hall and Chris Culliver and now to promising second-year player Bashaud Breeland.  Young stud back Matt Jones is day-to-day.  Their chippy offensive line, dealing with injuries to Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams and tight end Jordan Reed, will have their hands full with the blistering pass rush of Mo Wilkerson, Damon “Snacks” Harrison, and The MetLife Monster (Richardson’s self-given nickname).  But never ever discount the impact of a possible return by WR superstar DeSean Jackson.

Point spreads are for degenerate gamblers, but go with the Sheldon Richardson-enhanced defense of the Jets at home, well-rested and healed after the bye-week.

This game against Washington is very important, not just to attain that 4-win plateau needed to push them over the Bills and Steelers in the early wild-card hunt, but most importantly because the following Sunday they have to go play at hostile Foxboro Stadium against the vengeful New England Patriots.

Next: NY Jets: Trading for Vernon Davis makes so much sense

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