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Giants vs. Redskins: When Washington has the ball

Let’s break down the matchup

Chicago Bears v Washington Redskins
Case Keenum
Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

What will we see on Sunday when the New York Giants are on defense in their matchup against the Washington Redskins? Let’s break down some of the areas to focus on.

Case Keenum, not Dwayne Haskins

The Giants will see the veteran Case Keenum at quarterback instead of the rookie Dwayne Haskins, who was taken 15th overall by Washington. Coach Jay Gruden has been adamant that the veteran Keenum “deserves a chance to get us out of this thing here this week against the Giants.”

The Giants have only one takeaway so far in 2019, an interception by Ryan Connelly in Week 3 of an errant Jameis Winston pass. Washington quarterback Case Keenum is coming off a game on Monday vs. the Chicago Bears in which he turned the ball over five times. Keenum threw three interceptions and lost two of his three fumbles.

Could this be the week that the Giants create a few turnovers?

“I have a lot of respect for Case. I was with him the one year we were in Minnesota, we went 13-3 and had the Minneapolis Miracle thingy,” Giants coach Pat Shurmur said. “I know when Teddy (Bridgewater) and Sam (Bradford), when those guys got hurt and Case was there, he stepped in and he was a warrior. He was a significant reason why the Vikings that year won as many games as they did. I certainly know that he can play extremely well, because I’ve seen it firsthand.”

Keenum is on Washington’s injury report with a foot injury and did not practice on Wednesday. Indications are that the Redskins expect him to play. That, though, is something that should be monitored.

Can they contain Terry McLaurin?

The second-round pick from Ohio State is tied for the Redskins team lead with 16 receptions. He leads the team in yards receiving (257), yards per reception (16.1) and touchdowns (3). McLaurin leads all rookie receivers in receptions and touchdowns and ranks second in yards per game (85.7) through three weeks.

Per the Redskins, McLaurin is only the second player since 1970 with at least 60 receiving yards and a receiving touchdown in each of his first three career games.

During an appearance on the ‘Valentine’s Views’ podcast, here is what Emory Hunt of Football Gameplan told us about McLaurin:

“What I like about him is he has that DeSean Jackson type ability where he can track the football really well. He’s not as fast as Jackson, but he tracks the ball like Jackson,” Hunt said. “He’s got good acceleration. He snaps out of his break ... he’s so doggone fast and savvy, he understands leverage, he understands how to speed up to gear down and things like that. He has a lot of polish in his game.”

Considering how poorly Jenkins fared last week it will be interesting to see how the Giants choose to guard McLaurin, and whether they have any success in limiting his impact on the game.

The first half counts, too

In Week 1, the Dallas Cowboys scored on five straight possessions, three of those in the first half. In Week 2, the Buffalo Bills on their first possession and then reeled off three straight touchdowns. In Week 3, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers scored the first six times they touched the ball to build a 28-10 lead.

The Giants have allowed 31.3 points per game so far, tied with Washington for second-most in the league. They have given up 70 of those points, 23.3 per game, in the first half. Per Inside Edge, that is second-worst in the league, with the league-wide average at 10.4 first-half points allowed.

That’s nearly a two-touchdown hole each week. Daniel Jones isn’t going to be able to climb out of that every week.

Defensive coordinator James Bettcher said Thursday he doesn’t have a good reason for the disparity between first- and second-half performances.

“If there was a magic pill for that answer I would 100 percent give it to you,” Bettcher said. “The truth to the matter is this — we have to call things better, we have to coach things better in the position meeting rooms and we have to execute better.”

Will we see Corey Ballentine?

Janoris Jenkins had an awful game Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and it very nearly cost the Giants a victory despite the heroics of rookie quarterback Daniel Jones.

Jackrabbit hasn’t really played well all season.

Jenkins, 31, almost certainly won’t be a Giant next season. At some point, the Giants need to begin to find out if they have capable replacements in sixth-round pick Corey Ballentine and 2018 Supplemental Draft selection Sam Beal (currently on IR/Designated to Return).

Bettcher said “I don’t have concern” about Jenkins.

“As long as they’re working the process, and I think ‘Jack’ is doing that. He’s coming to practice, he’s competing, he’s working on fundamentals and techniques in individual. He’s all-in on fixing what he needs to fix.”

Bettcher wouldn’t address the possibility of Ballentine, ghe sixth-round pick, getting some snaps.

“Play time will always reveal itself on Sunday,” Bettcher said.

New York Giants v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Dexter Lawrence
Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Speaking of young players

The Giants got solid contributions from four rookie defenders on Sunday — linebacker Ryan Connelly, cornerback DeAndre Baker, EDGE Oshane Ximines and defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence.

Bettcher said he was “absolutely” encouraged by their play vs. the Bucs.

“It’s a continuing process. That’s how young players get better,” Bettcher said. “They have to practice, they have to work those techniques they have to improve at, whatever they might be. We have to make sure as coaches we’re identifying them and being part of the solution.”

Linebacker depth? What linebacker depth?

With Alec Ogletree (hamstring) and Tae Davis (concussion) sidelined the Giants ended up Sunday with only Connelly and veteran David Mayo as available linebackers. They added Nate Stupar for depth, but with both Mayo and Stupar being more suited to special teams play how the Giants get around that weakness on Sunday will be interesting to watch.