As we get closer to Sunday’s key NFC East game between the New York Giants and Washington Redskins let’s turn to our friends at SB Nation’s Hogs Haven for some inside info. Alex Rowsey of HH answers our “Five questions” this week.
Ed: Your thoughts on being part of the whole Beckham-Norman feud now? What do you expect from Norman on Sunday? Is he going to trail Beckham, or just play his side?
Alex: I'm excited to be a part of it because I'm excited to have a player the caliber of Josh Norman on the Redskins. I don't care much about the "feud," but I'm glad to have a top corner when facing you guys and a top WR like Beckham. I expect Norman to shadow Beckham Sunday and do well. Don't take "do well" as "shutdown OBJ." I'm not saying that. But Norman has continued to prove himself as arguably the top CB in the league this season. On a team full of disappointment through two weeks, Norman has been the brightest of bright spots. His play really has been stellar. The ESPN report came out earlier this week saying there were folks in the organization saying Norman would shadow Beckham. I believe them. The Redskins made a clear and obvious mistake not having him shadow AB and then Dez last week and I'm thinking they've learned. Beckham's one of the top WRs in the game. I have no doubt he's going to put up some stats. But I also have no doubt that the best way to attempt to limit the damage he can inflict is to put our best CB on all the time. I don't know if the Giants put Beckham in the slot much, but I haven't seen Norman there much. I do wonder if the Giants were to line Beckham up in the slot, if Norman would follow. It'll be fun to watch. They're both great players and arguably tops in the game at their spots.
Ed: An 0-2 start and reports that there are teammates sniping at Kirk Cousins. Is this team already on the verge of imploding from within?
Alex: I really don't think so. Those "reports" are like a lot of other "reports" nowadays. A bunch of anonymous stuff with no backing. The key part of your question though is to remember that the Redskins are 0-2. I don't think there's any team ever in the NFL at 0-2 that's got a real happy-go-lucky locker-room. I'm sure guys are upset. They're probably upset at themselves, their teammates, and their coaches. But I think those guys know that it's been about a lot more than Kirk Cousins. Don't get me wrong, he's pretty much sucked, but so have a bunch of guys on the team. I have no doubt that there are some receivers that have been upset because Kirk has missed them or thrown them some uncatchable balls. But this guy was the man last year. I don't think they're ready to implode because he's had a couple of bad games. Lose a couple more games (especially at home against Cleveland after the Giants game), then we'll have to talk again.
Ed: Your thoughts on Kirk Cousins. Is the "real" Cousins the guys we saw last year? The guy who we have seen so far this season? Somewhere in between? The bigger question -- are the Redskins back in the market for quarterback after this season?
Alex: The "real" Kirk Cousins is both/all of that. He's hot and cold. He's inconsistent. When he's hot, we've already seen he can play with anyone in the league. For 8-9 games last year, he was possibly the top QB in the league. That's not some lucky game. The dude can play. But, he wasn't that great the first half of last year ... or so far this year ... He throws picks. His confidence fluctuates too much. So I really don't want to say Kirk's the guy in between the highs and lows, either. He's both. When he's confident and comfortable, he's incredible. When his confidence is low and he tries too hard, he's really pretty bad. He just needs to find a way to level out that imbalance. And maybe he never will. There have been plenty of QBs that showed enough to keep getting chances but never showed enough to just lock down a spot for a decade. We don't know if he'll figure it out, yet. That's why our GM was smart to give him the tag this year rather than just give him some astronomical long-term deal.
To answer your big question about after this year, I don't think so. If Kirk struggles like has the rest of the year, then yes, they will be shopping. I don't think that's going to happen, though. It'd be too big of a drop-off from last year. I expect he'll improve here soon. Maybe he won't be tops in the league like the end of last year, but I think he'll be good enough that the Redskins will know they're not going to be able to just go out and find someone better. They could always give him the tag again next year, too. I think he'll be around.
Ed: If you could take one player off the Giants' roster and put him in your lineup, who would it be? Why?
Alex: I'd take Odell. He's the best player on the Giants roster, in my opinion. He's still only 23 and yet he's one of the top hand-full of receivers in the game. Having him on one side with DeSean Jackson on the other and Jordan Reed at TE would be the most ridiculous set of weapons I can think of. He'd allow us to not re-sign Garcon after this year and have a guaranteed top receiver for a long time. You could re-sign Jackson after this year and bring he and Beckham along with Reed, Jamison Crowder, and Josh Doctson and be set with the top receiving corps in the NFL for years.
Ed: Are there any young, under-the-radar players we might not know about but who Giants fans should be aware of Sunday?
Alex: There are a few:
- ILB Su'a Cravens (21 years old) - Su'a was our second-round pick this year and he's already looking like the best ILB on our team. For the first two games, he's been our nickel/dime ILB, but he's been one of the top 10 rookies in the league so far this year (#6 according to PFF). He's bound to be a full-time starter sometime very soon (should be right this second, as far as I'm concerned).
- WR Jamison Crowder (23 years old) - Jamison is our slot WR and he's been our main receiving threat behind Reed and Jackson. He's been targeted more than Pierre Garcon this year and for good reason. The kid is almost uncoverable in the slot. He's also done an excellent job as our PR. He's small, but lightning quick with sure hands.
- RB Matt Jones (23 years old) - He's huge (6'2", 232 lbs.) for a RB and has good speed, too. An all-around back who is a good receiver. He had major fumbling issues last year, but that hasn't been a problem so far in 2016. He's running better this year than last and the staff thought enough of him to let Alfred Morris go. The only thing holding him back is our play-calling. We simply don't run the ball. When we have, he's done well this year.
- OLB Preston Smith (23 years old) - Led all rookies in sacks last year with eight. He's a great pass rusher and great against the run. Hasn't started off the year very well, but showed a ton of promise last year. Big dude at 6'5", 268 lbs.
- CB Bashaud Breeland (24 years old) - He's been beaten like a drum this year (by Antonio Brown and Dez Bryant) and his confidence seems to be suffering majorly right now. Still, he had an incredible off-season and was looking like he was going to be a top 10-20 guy at CB this year after how good he was last year. Most everyone felt comfortable with him being our CB1 coming into the season before Norman was signed. Those skills and that potential are still there, despite a terrible start to the year.
- G Brandon Scherff (24 years old) - #5 overall pick last year and has been solid. He's started every game and played every single snap since being drafted except for one. Still young and improving, but he's a stalwart at RG. Very big and strong. Excels in the run game, but is a solid pass protector, as well. Mauler.
- OT Morgan Moses (25 years old) - Struggled as a rookie but was one of the top RTs in the league last year. He's been decent this year and has the prototypical size for the position. Was a third-round pick who some thought could go in the first.
- OLB Trent Murphy (25 years old) - Really coming on in his third year. He was our second-round pick back in 2014 and led the NCAA in sacks that year. Was asked to gain weight and move to DE this off-season, but the season-ending injury to Junior Galette saw him move back to OLB to play there along with Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith. He's been dynamite over the first two games getting sacks, forcing fumbles, and playing the run well.
- RB Chris Thompson (25 years old) - Third-down scat-back who's really more of a receiver than a runner. He's small, but very quick. He's also an excellent pass protector, despite his size limitations. He gets a lot of play and does a great job protecting Kirk and being a real weapon as a receiver out of the backfield. He's a little injury-prone but he's very fast. He's also our KR.