Need to Know: Redskins vs. Saints tale of the tape


Here is what you need to know on this Friday, October 5, three days before the Washington Redskins visit the New Orleans Saints.  

Talking Points

Here is a comparison of the elements of the Redskins and Saints as they prepare for their game on Monday night. 

Alex Smith has top-10 stats this year but Drew Brees’ numbers are in the top five all-time. The Saints’ quarterback isn’t slowing down at age 39, getting off to a sizzling start. He has completed 75 percent of his passes with eight touchdowns and no interceptions. Smith has been efficient, and he got the deep passing game going last week but he still is a few notches below the elite status that Brees shares with just a few other quarterbacks. 

Strong advantage Saints

Running Back
This is a similar situation to quarterback. The Redskins have two good running backs in Adrian Peterson and Chris Thompson. But the Saints’ Alvin Kamara has 100 yards either rushing or receiving in three of the Saints’ four games. And New Orleans will get back Mark Ingram, who rushed for over 1,100 yards last year. 

Strong advantage Saints

Wide receivers/tight ends
The Saints will have the best receiver on the field in Michael Thomas, who has more receptions through four games than any other player in NFL history (42). Paul Richardson of the Redskins will be the second best, although Ted Ginn of the Saints still has a few deep balls left in him. The best tight end on the field will be Washington’s Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis also is better than the Saints’ starter, Benjamin Watson. This is close, but Thomas tilts the balance to the home team. 


Advantage Saints

Offensive Line
While it would be a mistake to underestimate the Saints’ offensive line, they aren’t quite up to the level of the Redskins’ group. Trent Williams and Morgan Moses are one of the better tackle tandems in the league and Brandon Scherff has Pro Bowl credentials. The Saints group is, from left to right, Terron Armstead, Andrus Peat, Max Unger, Larry Warford, and Ryan Ramczyk. Their strength is that there really isn’t a weak link on the line. 

Advantage Redskins

Defensive Front
Both teams have a top edge rusher. Both Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan and Washington outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan had 13 sacks last year. This year, however, it’s a different story as Jordan has four sacks and Kerrigan has none. The Saints are third in the NFL in rushing yards allowed, but the fact that the New Orleans pass defense has been very leaky has teams throwing the ball more and running it less. 

The Redskins’ young defensive line of Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne, and Matt Ioannidis is already living up to its potential. The Saints traded away next year’s first-round pick to take DE Marcus Davenport, who is being worked into the lineup. Washington has a slight advantage in the non-edge linebackers as Mason Foster and Zach Brown have better playmaking potential than the Saints’ Manti Te’o, A.J. Klein, and Demario Davis.  

Slight advantage Redskins

Defensive Backs
Last year, New Orleans cornerback Marshon Lattimore was the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year. So far this year he has not been playing up to that level, allowing 75 percent completions on passes thrown into his coverage, per Pro Football Focus. He is part of a secondary that has given up an adjusted net yards per pass average of 9.9 yards. It’s a passing league this year but compare that to the league ANY/A of 6.5.

The Redskins are giving up 4.3 adjusted net yards per attempt, second best in the NFL. If you prefer the traditional passer rating metric, Washington opponents have compiled a 77.0 rating, third in the NFL, while the Saints’ opposing quarterbacks have rolled up a rating of 128.7, which is 31st in the league. 

Strong advantage Redskins

Special Teams
Neither team has done much outstanding on special teams. The Redskins’ Dustin Hopkins has a better touchback rate than New Orleans’ Will Lutz but Washington has difficulty returning kickoffs (last in the NFL at 14.6 yards/return) so that doesn't make much difference. The Saints are 31st in punt returns with a 3.9-yard average. It appears that this game will be decided on offense and defense. 



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The Agenda

Today: Practice 12:15; Jay Gruden news conference and open locker room after practice, approx. 2:00

Upcoming: Redskins @ Saints (October 8) 3 days; Panthers @ Redskins 9; Cowboys @ Redskins 16