For this week's "Five Questions with," we go "Behind Enemy Lines" and talk with John Keim, Redskins beat writer for the Washington Examiner and PFW's Redskins correspondent.
PFW: Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan have been quite the pair at outside linebacker, but the Jets' tackles seemed to keep them in check. How was New York able to shut those two out in terms of sacks and QB hits?
Keim: A couple of ways. The protection was solid, but Mark Sanchez also did a good job getting rid of the ball. He only threw nine passes that traveled at least 10 yards in the air. They moved the pocket a little bit but not a whole lot. They doubled them once or twice. Both players did apply pressure; Orakpo's bull rushes did move Ferguson back. But the one time he got close to Sanchez, he spun away from him. Kerrigan did hit him once after the throw.
PFW: What do you see Washington doing in the secondary to keep the receivers and Rob Gronkowski in check? What matchups can we expect to see?
Keim: Really, they'll need to get a lot of pressure up front to make Tom Brady uncomfortable. Not much they can do if they're not pressuring Brady. They will play multiple coverages, some bracket, some double teams, some man and zone. I would think with Gronkowski that they'll have to double him quite a bit. They really don't have anyone to match up with him solo, unless it's only for a play or two. I'm not sure yet what they'll do with Wes Welker; Kevin Barnes has covered in the slot but this would be a mismatch. DeAngelo Hall likes to cover the top receiver, but Josh Wilson is a little quicker.
PFW: How does losing Trent Williams and Fred Davis affect the offense?
Keim: It kills any momentum they started to build. Davis is their one playmaker. They loved using him on misdirection routes, running across the field. He's an athletic tight end and consistently got a lot of yards after the catch. No wideout or tight end can do that now. Williams is their best blocker, period. There's a considerable dropoff between he and his backups (Willie Smith and Sean Locklear). His work in the run game is solid and he just finished a stretch in which he played his three best games.
PFW: Teams obviously have had success passing the ball against New England. How do you expect the Redskins' offense to come out, will they let Rex Grossman air it out early and often or try to get Roy Helu running the ball to keep Brady off the field?
Keim: Well, I think they know they have to score. New England can score so quickly that you can have an eight-minute drive result in three points and they can score a touchdown in one minute. What good did that do? This staff likes to be aggressive and I'd expect them to stay that way. They need to run Helu, if only because teams have run well on the Patriots. He's also their remaining legitimate big-play threat.
PFW: Looking at this game, what is one area that you think the Redskins can exploit and gain an advantage to try and pull off the upset over the Patriots?
Keim: Well, I really don't think they can pull it off. They're just not equipped to beat a team such as this. New England has scored at least 30 points nine times this season; the Redskins have scored 20 or more five times — and the offense hasn't scored more than 24. The Pats do give up yards and points, but this is a bad matchup. The Redskins turn the ball over quite a bit; the Pats have intercepted 17 passes. Washington would need to play mistake-free ball and force turnovers. The Redskins have struggled in both areas. The benefit for Washington is that the defense has played well. The Redskins need to make sure the Pats settle for field goals; easier said than done. The Redskins just need to be able to pressure the Pats' defense. It'll be hard for them to do that given what they've lost in personnel.
You can follow John Keim on Twitter @John_Keim.