"If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle."
- Sun Tzu, The Art of War
The great Sun Tzu's famous saying still holds true today, even in the world of football. Planning and learning about your enemy (the opposing team) is so crucial in preparation for that week's battle (game). That's why we here at the Beatdown like to correspond with our fellow SBNation blogs each week. This week, I talked to Alex Rowsey of Hogs Haven. Alex was very knowledgeable about all things Redskins and his comprehensive answers to my questions blew my own answers to his questions out of the water. Special thanks to Alex and all of the folks over at Hogs Haven.
So without further ado, I present this week's Surveying the Enemy'.
#1: How big of a blow is Junior Galette's injury to the team?
This is a tough question to answer. On the surface it's easy, this is a huge blow. Junior Galette is an elite pass rusher and obviously would have been a huge part of our defense and team. We know our secondary isn't great, so really improving the front seven and getting after the QB is going to be how the Redskins improve as a defense. While the front seven will still be good and much improved over last year, it won't be as good as it would have been. Galette added something that no one else on our roster has. He had elite speed/burst/explosion. Of all the pass rushers on our roster (Ryan Kerrigan included), Galette is the only one who has consistently been giving Trent Williams trouble in practice and actually beating him sometimes. We're talking about a guy with 22 sacks in the last two season. That's crazy good. He would have made Ryan Kerrigan much better on the other side and obviously aided our secondary. While not excellent against the run, he is terrifying in passing situations.
The reason I said the question isn't all that easy to answer is because I still feel our team has great talent and depth at the OLB spot. Junior hasn't been a Redskin but for a few weeks. He wasn't part of the original plan coming into camp and most fans were very happy/satisfied with our defense before he was added. So now we're just back to where we were before he came here. Everyone was and still is very excited to watch the development of last year's second round pick Trent Murphy. Trent may have even started games over Galette when Galette was healthy because Trent has already proven to be excellent against the run. He's much bigger/stronger coming into his second year and he led the NCAA in sacks two years ago, so there's excitement over what he can do. Make no mistake about it, he doesn't have the explosion/burst/speed that Galette does, but he could still become a very good player. We also spent our second round pick this year on the position in the form of Preston Smith. He's looked very good in the preseason games so far and will get plenty of PT. That's two second round picks with a lot of talent and potential who will now have to step up and people around here have high hopes for those guys. That excitement and potential helps to alleviate the pain felt by losing Junior Galette. On a final note, we're pretty excited about a couple of guys, Jackson Jeffcoat and Houston Bates, who have been on the bubble at the OLB position. The loss of Galette this year improves their chances and they have some exciting potential as fourth or fifth OLBs.
2.) What has the general consensus around Brandon Scherff been so far? Was he worth the pick?
There is no consensus on the Scherff pick. It's been fairly divided though I'd still say a majority of fans are pretty happy about it. Redskins fans love OL. I mean, our site is called Hogs Haven because of the great "Hogs" OL that led our team to three Super Bowl victories. We love to run the ball and have a big, bruising, awesome OL that makes it possible to have a successful offense regardless of the skill positions. So prior to the draft, everyone was all about getting an OL. But there are a few reasons for the divide in our fan-base with regards to Scherff.
For one thing, he came into camp as our starting RT after playing LT in college. After a couple of weeks, he's been moved to RG. That worries a lot of people. Many draft pundits were already saying how Scherff will be a G in the league and a lot of people didn't want to see us spend the #5 overall pick on a guy who was going to play G. Well that's where Scherff is. Will he stay there? I don't know. But if he does, plenty of fans are convinced he can't be worthy of that high of a draft pick.
Another thing is the simple fact that Leonard Williams was available when we selected Scherff. Plenty of fans wanted Scherff all along, but most agreed that Williams was the one guy we'd really have to take if he was available. He was. We passed. Some fans aren't happy about that. It doesn't help when we see/read that he's been looking pretty good in the preseason.
Finally, and this is silly in my opinion, but to give you an honest look at how our fan-base feels, people are down on Scherff a little more this week because he really struggled last Thursday against Detroit. It's his second quarter of preseason action in the NFL and he's on this third OL position in the past two years, so I'm not worried about it. But some fans are. It'd be nice to see him come out, play solid, and hold his own against you guys on Saturday. It'll be a big test for him.
#3: Being a 'Skins fan who has seen Robert Griffin's development from the beginning, is his recent poor play due to lack of talent, or a rather lackluster supporting cast? (sorry for asking the tough questions!)
Don't be sorry for asking about RGIII. Everyone does and everyone will continue to. He dominates the headlines and gives us all headaches having to read about him all the time, but we know that's how it is now. His poor play over the past couple of years is due to a multitude of things, but in my opinion his biggest issue is psychological. His mind just seems shot right now. Of course, there are a million other factors: repeated injury (including some very major ones like a torn ACL and dislocated ankle), changing offensive playbooks/coaches, learning to be a pro-style QB after having never been one before, a poor OL, a constant media circus, etc. It's been bad. The worst part is, there doesn't appear to be just one major issue that can be corrected and then he'll be good. It's so many things that it's getting to the point where we're all really wondering if he's done.
#4: Which off-the-radar Redskins players should unknowing Ravens fans be looking out for?
Here are some guys to look out for:
- RB Matt Jones - third round pick who is an absolutely huge beast of a RB. He's looked great throughout camp.
- WR Jamison Crowder - fourth round pick who has yet to play in the preseason but probably has more hype than any other "unknown" Redskin right now. Making his debut against you guys and fans are on the edge of their seats to see what this guy can do.
- RBs Chris Thompson and Trey Williams - both little scat-back types who are competing for the third-down back job. Thompson looks like he'll probably get it, but Williams is an impressive UDFA who plays an exciting brand of football. Both will be fun to watch tomorrow.
- ILB Terrance Plummer - UDFA who's been looking like he belongs. Makes tackles all over the place. Very solid.
- OLB Jackson Jeffcoat - has looked very good and his chances have really increased with Galette gone.
- OLB Preston Smith - mentioned above. Second-round rookie who has looked great in preseason games. Will be counted on even more with Galette gone.
- OLB Houston Bates - little known UDFA who has three sacks (including two-in-a-row) in our two preseason games. He's playing himself onto the roster.
- ILB Martrell Spaight - fifth-round rookie. Tackling machine.
- S Kyshoen Jarrett - Has looked way better than a sixth-round rookie so far. Plays both S spots and some nickel CB.
#5: Why do you think the Ravens-Redskins rivalry isn't that big of a deal?
I think it really just depends on who you talk to about whether it's a big deal or not, but for those who don't think it is, I have a few reasons:
- You guys are in the AFC and we're in the NFC
- It seems we have like a preseason rivalry going, but don't play all that much (especially in any games that are important) during the regular season.
- You guys have been consistently good and we've been consistently bad. Kind of hard to have a rivalry that way.
- There's not much to trash-talk about. Y'all are better and have been for a while. We're not much in the same league. Also, it seems that most Redskins fans don't really "hate" many guys on the Ravens. We like teams that are built around defense and respect that. Probably a little more jealous than anything. We're excited to finally have an actual GM (hopefully he turns out to be as good as y'all's).
Once again, special thanks to Alex and Hogs Haven for their time. Good luck this week! Here's to an injury-free, productive game.