This Sunday, the Packers will look to bounce back from their week 1 loss in San Francisco as they take on the similarly 0-1 Washington Redskins. Kevin Ewoldt of Hogs Haven was kind enough to answer some questions about Washington, and gives us a game prediction.
APC: Last Monday, the nation got its first glimpse of Robert Griffin III since the ACL tear he suffered in the playoffs. Put that performance into context. Were the Shanahans using Griffin differently than last season? How well does he compare physically to last year? Will the RGIII the Packers face Sunday be closer to the player he was in the first half, or the second?
HH: It's hard to imagine we'll see the RGIII from first half again. He was never once that bad in any game his rookie year. The Redskins basically admitted that they guessed wrong on how to game plan for the Eagles, who had brand new schemes on both sides of the ball. The Redskins adjusted at half and things got easier. Griffin definitely was used more conservatively relying less on him running. He was making much riskier throws than I'm used to seeing and his accuracy last year was flawless (unlike vs Philly). In short, fans and media are still trying to figure it ourselves, but all signs point to RGIII just being rusty. It could last another game or two but it's improving. In regards to his health, he is actually in better overall shape than last year. He bulked up and he claims he still has that turbo button on running if need be (4.3).
APC: In 2012, Washington gave up 24.3 points per game, 11th most in the league. What improvements have been made, and what does the return of Brian Orakpo mean for the defense? At 38, is it reasonable to expect London Fletcher hold up for another year? How do you expect the defense to fair against the Packers?
HH: Well, the Redskins returned all of their starters except for FS Madieu Williams who stunk out loud. The Redskins still are searching for a solid FS there. They drafted Bacarri Rambo from Georgia, but he's had an up and down go so far. He does look promising though. I figured continuity meant the Redskins D would at the worst stay in the middle of the pack statistically and then the Skins can rely on the offense to put up 25+ each week for the win. That still seems reasonable to me. Rookie CB, David Amerson, has looked solid so far as well.
For the last three years I've been saying we can't realistically expect London Fletcher to play 16 games, and he's done it. His play was noticeably off last year, but as we learned in the off-season, he was playing hurt with injuries that required multiple surgeries to fix.
I've always said Orakpo has been playing out of position at OLB, but he is still a solid player. It was frustrating to see the pass rush be so dismal vs. the Eagles. Vick had all day and the score reflects that. NT Barry Cofield has a club on his hand which is definitely hindering how much he usually disrupts the pocket.
APC: Washington enters the 2013 season with Pierre Garcon as the number one receiver and a cavalcade of lesser known commodities. Is Garcon capable of performing at the level of a top target, and is there anyone you expect to step up this year beside him?
HH: The Redskins were 9-1 last year when Garcon was in the lineup. He is a legit threat and him being on the field ensures someone else has a favorable matchup for RGIII to throw to. We saw that with Hankerson scoring two TDs last week. I've always been bullish on the speedy Aldrick Robinson, but he made me look bad dropping two balls vs the Eagles. The return of Fred Davis at TE is big as well. He was RGIII's most targeted WR last year before the Achilles injury that out him on IR.
APC: One of the biggest NFL stories this offseason centered on the relationship between RGIII and Mike Shanahan. How much of this narrative is hyperbole and how much of it is based on actual friction between the star quarterback and his head coach?
HH: It depends who you ask but I don't think there is any friction. We're talking about two super competitive people here. Of course RGIII wants to be out there, but the Redskins need to be smart and consider his long-term safety. In pre-season, there are players trying to make a team and making tackles past the whistle happens. I was OK with him sitting all four games, although all the media seem to be jumping on that decision in hindsight. Must be nice to never be wrong!!!
APC: Finally, do you envision Washington or Green Bay walking away victorious this weekend and why?
HH: I like the Packers. The Redskins pass rush is not where it needs to be which is a terrible thing to have when you're playing Aaron Rodgers. Jim Haslett loves, loves, loves to blitz so I think the Packers' woeful Guards play will get tested early and often, but that's nothing Aaron Rodgers hasn't seen before.
We'd like to thank Kevin and Hogs Haven for answering our questions. Be sure to check out our Q&A session over there as well as their fantastic coverage of the Redskins. As always, keep your internet machines tuned to Acme Packing Company this Sunday for game day coverage.
Jason Hirschhorn covers the Green Bay Packers for Acme Packing Co. He has previously written for Lombardi Ave, College Hoops Net, LiveBall Sports, and the List Universe. He is also currently a senior writer for Beats Per Minute, an indie-music webzine. Follow him on Twitter: @JBHirschhorn