What a difference a year makes for both Robert Griffin III and Colin Kaepernick. Two of the games most explosive quarterbacks in 2012, have stumbled in 2013. Kaepernick’s 49ers sit at 6-4 and have lost 2 straight games, while the Redskins playoff hopes are hanging by a thread at 3-7.
Griffin and coach Mike Shanahan don’t seem to be on the same page. After last Sunday’s game, Griffin said that the Eagles knew what was coming inferring bad coaching on the part of Shanahan, and then early Sunday it was reported that Griffin asked the team not to show his bad plays during the teams film session. Something’s gotta give with these two quarterbacks squaring off at FedEx Field on Monday Night.
While the Redskins sport the league’s 6th rated overall offense, and the NFL’s top ranked rushing attack, Griffin isn’t the player he was last year as he recovers from ACL surgery. He’s already doubled his interception total from a year ago, his completion percentage is down 6 percent, and his quarterback rating is down nearly 20 points. The key for Griffin will be playing a full game and limiting his turnovers, something he hasn’t done all season. In other areas of the offense, Alfred Morris is having an excellent season running the ball averaging over 5-yards per carry. Pierre Garcon, Jordan Reed, and Leonard Hankerson all have 3 touchdowns in the receiving game, but it looks like Reed will be out for this game with a concussion. Still, RGIII certainly has plenty of weapons to rely upon.
In his first full year as the 49ers starting quarterback, Colin Kaepernick isn’t coming close to enjoying the same success he had last year. Kaepernick ranks 31st amongst qualified quarterbacks completing only 56.2 percent of his passes, and has thrown only 11 touchdowns through 8 games. As a team, San Francisco is last in the NFL averaging just 168 passing yards per game. After throwing for 412 yards in the first game of the season, Kaepernick has only surpassed 200 yards once, and has thrown for 218 combined yards the past 2 weeks. The 49ers have had success running the ball, but the passing game has to step up. A matchup against the Redskins secondary could be exactly what this offense needs.
Even – Running the ball hasn’t been a problem for either team, but the play of the quarterback has. Neither quarterback has distinguished themselves this season to deserve an edge over the other.
The biggest reason why the Redskins are 3-7 is Defense. Washington’s defense ranks 30th in points allowed, 26th giving up 274.9 yards per game, and 19th giving up 115 yards rushing per game. Overall, this is statistically the worst Redskins defense since the 1960s. If Kaepernick can’t put up big numbers against this defense, then that’s a real problem. Brian Orakpo’s return from a torn pectoral muscle hasn’t gone well and he hasn’t recorded a sack in 6 of Washington’s 10 games.
As bad as the secondary has been playing, if quarterbacks continue to have all day to throw, not much else will matter.
San Francisco’s defense hasn’t been able to mask the problems left by Colin Kaepernick. The 49ers lost its past 2 games by a combined 4 points. NoVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis are playing well, but the pass rush hasn’t been there. San Francisco ranks 27th in the league with 21 sacks. A lot of that has to do with Aldon Smith only playing in five games. As he gets back to his old form, expect this defense to play better. The 49ers secondary ranks 10th giving up 220 pass yards per game, and the rush defense ranks 12th giving up 103.8 rushing yards per game, so it’s been an above average unit.
49ers – Washington’s defense is on pace to be historically bad.
Kicker: Phil Dawson vs. Kai Forbath
Punter: Andy Lee vs. Sav Rocca
Return Man: LaMichael James vs. Chris Thompson
Kai Forbath and Phil Dawson have both struggled kicking field goals. Forbath has missed 4 of 11 tries, while Dawson is kicking at a 50 percent clip from beyond 50 yards, but he did hit a 55-yarder during last week’s loss to the Saints.
In the punting game, Sav Rocca has one of the league’s weakest legs and ranks 32nd out of 33 NFL punters averaging 41.2 yards per punt. Andy Lee on the other hand, is 3rd in the league averaging 48.8 yards per punt.
With Kyle Williams being placed on injured reserve, LaMichael James will take over as the 49ers main return man. He’s only returned one kick this year, but as was the case during last year’s playoffs, James has the ability to break one at any time. Rookie Chris Thompson hasn’t made a significant impact returning kicks for the Redskins. His long for the year is 28 yards.
49ers – Phil Dawson is more reliable than Kai Forbath, Sav Rocca has the NFL’s weakest leg, and LaMichael James has proven he can be a legitimate threat in the return game.
San Francisco’s defense is much more equipped to get the job done, and there’s no reason Kaepernick shouldn’t put up big numbers against a bad Redskins D.
49ers 35 Redskins 23