When these two teams met earlier in the season, the Redskins were really struggling defensively. In the last two months, there has been improvement in their run defense, but where they are still struggling is defending the pass.
What is strange is that they are middle of the pack when it comes to sacks per attempt at 17th, but at the bottom when it comes to yards allow per attempted pass at 31st.
I still worry about facing this defense and what Jim Haslett can dial up at any time. I have seen plenty of their games this season where they have knocked the opposing quarterbacks all over the field. Green Bay comes to mind, as does Philadelphia and Atlanta last week.
I really do like these outside linebackers for the Redskins. Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo are pressure players and if not accounted for, they are going to cause some serious issues. Kerrigan is relentless and never stops attacking the scheme. He can rush from a two-point stance or put his hand down and come at you that way.
There are situations where they put Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo on the same side and let them attack you that way. Orakpo, who missed all of last season with an injury, is back to his normal self. Where teams have taken advantage of him is when they run the ball at him. He is very aggressive trying to get up the field and tackles have been able to work him out of the play.
In the October meeting between these teams, both Tyron Smith and Doug Free were up to the challenge in the way they handled these two. This time, it's a home game for the Redskins and that will factor into how this matchup might go.
Barry Cofield is very active at nose tackle and he will be a nice test for Travis Frederick, who had trouble with the quick swim move which Cofield can pull off. Frederick has done a much better job as the season has progressed when it comes to handling those big, power nose men.
He will also be ready to help when the Redskins get in the nickel and he is uncovered, where he has to be ready for the inside blitz games that Haslett likes to bring.
The guy you keep an eye on is at defensive end -- Chris Baker. The Redskins got him off the street in 2011 and he sure has shown up on film. He is a hard guy to move, and he spent a great deal of time on the Falcons' side of the line of scrimmage last week.
London Fletcher is still the leader of this linebacker group, and if you leave him unblocked, he is going to find ways to make plays. Fletcher might have slowed down a step or two, but he still plays this game with a great deal of passion and intensity.
Perry Riley plays next to Fletcher and he leads the team in tackles. Where he does a nice job is reading the scheme and then making his way to the ball. On tape you can see that if he gets in position, he can finish plays. Rookie Brandon Jenkins is not a starter at outside linebacker but he does see action as a nickel rusher off the edge.
Defensively, where the Redskins have struggled the most has been in the secondary with their pass coverage, and opponents have been taking advantage of that.
DeAngelo Hall is the veteran of the group and still plays with that swagger during a game. He has made a career of playing routes and staying in position while in coverage. He can play press man and do it quite well. [embedded_ad]
Where Hall has always been productive is when it comes to baiting a quarterback into a throw. There are times where you see him playing this way. There is always a risk when throwing it in his direction. I expect him to shadow Dez Bryant in this game and try to shut him down.
Hall is a big talker and Bryant has to be very careful not to make it a personal battle in this game and just focus on the task in hand -- it should be another great matchup.
If there is a corner to attack, it's Josh Wilson who is the starter on the right side. Wilson also doubles as the nickel and there are plays to be made there. Where Hall shows aggressiveness, Wilson shows none.
Balls that are thrown in his direction are generally successful plays. There is some separation in the way he plays. I actually think David Amerson is a better player and he will come in the game when they go to their nickel look. Amerson has had his issues as a tackler himself, but he looks like he has far more coverage skill than what Wilson has shown.
Keep an eye on whomever Wilson has to defend in coverage.
I am not a huge fan of these Redskins safeties, and I feel like that reason that as a group the secondary is struggling is because of their play.
Brandon Merriweather and Reed Doughty are the starters. I have always felt that Doughty is a guy that Jason Witten can beat any time that he is in coverage on routes. I don't see a great athlete when it comes to movement skills and his ability to turn and run.
Merriweather has a history of delivering big hits, but there are plenty of times where he doesn't wrap up when he has a chance to tackle and sees the ball get by him. When the Redskins do blitz, it will most likely come from Merriweather. Bacarri Rambo is also seeing time in some certain packages but Merriweather and Doughty are going to get the majority of the work