By Kevin Ross
Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul of the New York Giants felt that it was in his best interest to send a message to Robert Griffin III this week.
“Don’t bring it to my side,” Pierre-Paul warned RG3. “Go the other way…“Yes, it’ll be a very good matchup. Not on my side, though. Not on my side. Or the other side,” said Pierre-Paul.
But the question of the hour is this: How will these disrespectful comments affect Washington this Sunday? The answer has two possibilities: 1) The comments will mean nothing to the Redskins, or 2) This bulletin board material will light a fire under the burgundy and gold.
Some say that there’s no such thing as bulletin board material; that if an NFL player needs to be inspired by words to perform at his best, then his best isn’t good enough to begin with. This rhetoric sounds OK, but logically, it is flawed.
Players don’t always perform at their peak, and sometimes are unfocused on gameday. This is why playoff competition is the NFL’s best product, as every player is at his optimal level of focus and the play shows on the field.
Unequivocally option number two will describe how the Redskins will respond to Pierre’s words. Expect a fire to be lit under the Redskins, in particular look for left tackle Trent Williams to have his very best game as a professional.
Make no mistake about it; Trent Williams, who is performing at a probowl level this season, will be inspired to play because of Pierre’s comments, and subsequently will be bringing his “A” game to New York this week.
If Trent Williams can dominate Jason Pierre-Paul, that will be significant in helping Robert Griffin lead the burgundy and gold to a curly “W”. However the battle between Pierre-Paul and Trent Williams, may take a backseat to another key matchup on the line that will have a bigger impact on the game.
If the Washington Redskins are to defeat the New York Giants, they must make Eli Manning’s day as miserable as they possibly can. The Redskins secondary will be diced up like pineapple if pressure is not applied to Eli Manning.
Therefore the key to the Redskins winning will not be in the hands of Trent Williams, but will be in the hands of Ryan Kerrigan. Kerrigan has had many shining moments this season, and has shown great potential. But the young superstar has failed to dominate a game from start-to-finish this season.
Kerrigan will need to have a DeMarcus Ware like day, and finally look like a player who will be one of the league’s top pass rushers, if Washington is to seize first place this weekend.
Kerrigan will be going to battle against ex-Redskin Sean Locklear. Locklear was a disaster with Washington last season, but has started at right tackle for New York this year and has not given up a sack. It will be up to Ryan Kerrigan to bring back the old Sean Locklear and to help display Locklear’s many weaknesses that he put on film while here in Washington.
That may seem like a tall order given that Locklear has not yielded a sack, but Locklear has allowed Eli to be “hurried” 11 times. And that might be answer for Washington, “They’ve been doing a great job. Three games without a sack and I think the fourth game they had one sack. Eli [Manning] is doing a great job getting rid of the ball. If you can’t get to him, you have to put some pressure on him because he’s so accurate and he’s going to come up with big plays. If you can’t get a sack, you better get in his face or you’re in for a long day,” said head coach Mike Shanahan.
Providing pressure on Eli and containing Pierre-Paul are the ingredients needed to cook the Giants. The only question is, will Washington have this recipe?
Kevin Ross is a freelance writer covering all things Washington Redskins. His work can be found on Examiner.com.