With the New York Giants facing the Washington Football Team on Thursday in a critical game for both teams, Andrew York of SB Nation’s Hogs Haven answers our ‘5 questions’ about the WFT.
Ed: How much does Taylor Heinicke replacing Ryan Fitzpatrick change/alter/hurt/help the Washington offense?
Andrew: It’s really tough to say because we haven’t seen Heinicke play all that much. On paper, it should be a downgrade. Fitzpatrick is a vet and the staff wouldn’t have brought him in if they didn’t think he’s an upgrade over Heinicke. Reports out of practice also indicated that Fitzpatrick looked like the only starter in practice. But the offense hasn’t looked particularly good with Fitzpatrick under center in any of the preseason games nor in what limited action he saw Week 1. The offense seemed to come to life once Heinicke came in, though it could just be because the opponents hadn’t gameplanned for him. The biggest thing Heinicke adds is the ability to make and extend plays with his legs, which will be important if our offensive line continues to protect as poorly as they did last week. He also seemed more accurate passing downfield than Fitzpatrick in what limited opportunities he had. I’m really interested to see him in a game where the opposing team expects him and has time to game plan for him, I think we’ll learn a lot in this game.
Ed: Since we all do this, what is your best OVERREACTION to Washington losing its season opener?
Andrew: The offensive line can’t protect, the tackles are worthless, the defensive line is overrated and can’t get pressure, and the CBs can’t cover. In reality, I think a lot of that was due to matchup. Joey Bosa looks amazing, the Chargers completely rebuilt their offensive line last offseason and it looks like they did a great job, and their big-bodied WRs were a particularly good matchup for some of our smaller CBs, using their body and catch radius to make plays over the top of our guys.
Ed: If you could take one player off the Giants’ roster and put him in Washington’s lineup, who would it be? Why?
Andrew: James Bradberry because he’s just really good. He looked like the best player on the Giants every time I watched him last year. He’s also familiar with Ron Rivera’s defense and would probably be able to slide right in and play immediately. We have bigger needs than CB, but I’d take talent over need in this case.
Ed: Tell me about the Washington draft class. Who has you really excited from that group?
Andrew: Our second- and third-round picks have been standouts. RT Sam Cosmi, taken in the second round, shined as PFF’s highest graded rookie OT of the preseason. He got schooled by Joey Bosa Week 1, which was a heck of a welcome to the NFL, but he figured things out in the second half and picked up his play against one of the best DEs in the league. Third-round CB Benjamin St-Juste has looked like the real deal in practice and the preseason so far. He profiles somewhat similar to Bradberry (I guess Rivera has a “type”). He’s still a rookie and got exposed by some of the Chargers WRs, but I think he’s going to be good. Third-round WR Dyami Brown has looked good in practice and the preseason as well. He was used primarily as a deep threat as a Tarheel, but he’s shown good route running in practice and drawn a lot of praise from the media, though he hasn’t done too much in games yet.
Ed: Washington wins if what happens? The Giants win if what happens?
Andrew: Most importantly, Washington wins if Taylor Heinicke plays like he did in our playoff game against the Bucs last year. We also need our offensive tackles to pass protect, our defense to come prepared and stop blowing so many assignments, and it would be great if we can lean on our running game, though the Giants are much better at defending the run than the pass, so a passing-oriented game plan would make more sense if Heinicke is up to it.
The Giants win if they can establish a consistent short passing game to negate our pass rush and expose our LBs in coverage. The Giants also win if Daniel Jones keeps doing whatever he’s done to beat us every time he’s played us since entering the league.