By Kevin Ross
This Sunday represents what Washingtonians have been waiting for: A chance to play meaningful games in December; a chance to be this season’s version of the 2011 New York Giants.
Followers of the burgundy and gold can sniff the playoffs, and the odor seems to get stronger week by week. But what stands in the way of that lovely smell is the Baltimore Ravens, who are on the cusp of securing a playoff berth themselves.
In Baltimore they’re saying that Ed Reed and the Ravens’ defense is exactly what the doctor ordered to cure Griffin mania. Raven’s nation is under the impression that –even with Terrell Suggs and Ray Lewis out– Ed Reed will provide problems for RG3 who has never seen a defense of this caliber.
Even on SportsCenter today they posed the question, “Will RG3 be able to continue the magic, against the Ravens defense?” The problem with the city of Baltimore, and the problem with the national media is this, they are ignoring the facts. The facts say that this is not your father’s Ravens defense, and probably not even your older brother’s Raven’s defense. This is not the year 2000 when the Ravens had one of the greatest defenses of all times. This is year 2012 and the current group of Ravens should not be put on a pedestal, and should not be given respect locally or nationally.
The Ravens defense that some are predicting to shutdown Kyle Shanahan’s beast of an offense, find themselves ranked 23rd in rush defense, 23rd in pass defense, and 25th in total defense. Ask yourself this, when does anyone ranked 25th at anything deserve fear and respect? To think that anyone inside of the Redskins locker room fears the Ravens’ defense is ludicrous. Especially in Washington’s case, where RG3 and Alfred Morris have the Redskins ranked number 1 in rush offense.
Frankly, Washington has a good chance of winning this weekend, and not by stumbling to a victory, but by coasting to one. The key to the game will be Washington’s ability to limit the Ravens’ offense by controlling Ray Rice.
Looking at the statistics, the Redskins’ defense is among the league’s best at stopping the run, as they’re ranked fourth. The truth is Washington may be able to control Ray Rice on the ground, but they could very easily struggle against him in the air.
Rice makes his money running the football, but he’s equally as good in the passing game and can be devastating after catching a screen pass. This could be a major problem for the Redskins’ defense, who have struggled, to say the least, against teams that execute the screen pass.
“First of all, Ray Rice is a great football player, not just in the run, but in the pass game, his route running, his pass receiving, his screens. In running the ball, you’ve got to be ready for spin moves, stiff arms. He’s got it all,” said Jim Haslett. “He’s violent when he runs the ball. I love watching him run. I don’t really want to particularly have just one player have to tackle the guy. But we’ve got our work cut out for us because that’s the No. 1 goal. You’ve got to handle Ray. He’s a heck of a football player in all areas. He’s one of the best in the league.”
The Washington Redskins will be poised to stop the run, and if they can prevent Ray Rice from killing them in the screen game, Washington will blow this game wide open.
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Kevin Ross is a freelance writer covering all things Washington Redskins. His work can be found on Examiner.com.