The Washington Redskins have an additional issue to be concerned about. As most people know, Redskins’ quarterback Robert Griffin III’s status for Washington’s Week 15 game against the Cleveland Browns is in question. This time, it’s the Redskins’ defense that is on high alert against the Browns.
While Washington’s defense has struggled defending the pass, the unit has been effective in stopping the run. Washington ranks seventh in the NFL in rushing defense, surrendering around 99 yards per game. However, the defense had difficulty containing Baltimore Ravens’ running back Ray Rice in the Redskins’ 31-28 Week 14 victory over the Ravens.
On Sunday, Washington will face another great featured back in Cleveland rookie Trent Richardson, who leads the Browns in rushing touchdowns with nine. Richardson is a tough, punishing runner who is difficult to bring down. At five foot nine inches and 230 pounds, Richardson has a low center of gravity. He also has lower body strength that allows him to churn forward for extra yardage.
The Browns hope to use a ball control offense to keep the potent Washington offense on the sideline. Richardson is a great asset to the Cleveland offense that can achieve that goal. If he is effective in the running game, it forces the Redskins to bring a safety closer to the line of scrimmage to stop Richardson. That would allow quarterback Brandon Weeden to focus on play action passes to wide receivers Josh Gordon and Greg Little. That scenario could exacerbate Washington’s deficiencies in defending the passing game.
Redskins’ fans are hopeful that their team is staked to a lead large enough where Richardson won’t be a factor. However, if the game is close, the defense will definitely get a large dose of Richardson. If Washington’s defense isn’t up to the task of containing the Browns’ rookie running back, it could be a long day for the Redskins.