Despite the losing record, the 3-4 Cincinnati Bengals offense can be dangerous and the Washington Redskins (4-3) defense will have its hands full containing the duo of QB Andy Dalton and WR A.J. Green in England Sunday.
At 6-4, the No. 2 ranked six-year vet has an uncanny knack for catching uncatchable balls and he is stronger than his 205 lbs. frame makes him look. Just last week he caught a ‘Hail-Mary’ pass from Dalton in the end zone while three DBs covered him; one of them actually holding on to his arm. He batted the ball down to himself, juggled it and then pulled it into his chest for the completion.
While Redskins All-Pro cornerback Josh Norman (concussion) was on the practice field today, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden confirmed that he is not cleared to play Sunday. He said in today’s presser that Norman (and tight end Jordan Reed) will both see independent doctors tomorrow and the team will decide if either (or both) will fly to London for the game.
If Norman does not go to London, fellow CB Bashaud Breeland will likely get assigned to the receiver. If the Redskins defensive line — much improved since Week 1 of the season — can get to Dalton and at least hurry and even hit or sack him, then Breeland, Quinton Dunbar and Kendall Fuller won’t be left hanging out to dry for five, six or seven seconds trying to cover Green and/or fellow WR Brandon LeFell.
It’s going to take every man stepping up as well as defensive coordinator Joe Barry coming up with an excellent scheme to stop a receiver as talented and prolific as Green.
“There’s a couple of ways to look at it,” Gruden said about handling Green. “I feel good about our guys that we have in-house. A.J.’s been pretty effective against just about any corner he’s ever gone up against. And you have to do different things against him… you know, if you think we’re going to play Cover 0 man-to-man the whole time, you’re going to be really mistaken. We’ll have to change up the coverages, figure out ways to beat ‘em up a little bit at the line of scrimmage, play a safety over the top from time-to-time, play a third, play somebody underneath him; and then play some man-to-man. We’re going to have to play man-to-man eventually whether it’s Dunbar or whether it’s Breeland or [safety Greg] Toler or whoever it is if Norman doesn’t go so… those guys have shown a skill set out here that they can cover pretty good receivers so far this year. But A.J.’s a different animal. He’s what… 6-3-and-a-half, 6-4? He’s very strong and he’s got a ball-tracking ability unlike anybody we’ve ever seen.”
If Washington’s defense can at least slow down Green, they’ve got a shot at getting to 5-3. Otherwise, it will likely be a long day.