After a 3-1 start, the Redskins have lost three in a row. Last week against the Bills their offense was inept as it has been all season. The offensive line allowed 10 sacks to quarterback John Beck and the offense was shut out. When Beck was still upright he didn't fare much better. He threw two interceptions on the day and had a quarterback rating of 53.6. Overall they had just 178 yards of total offense. This is starting to sound a bit like the Browns offense I previewed last week.
Defensively, they weren't much better, but they didn't get much help from their offense, as they were on the field for 35 minutes. Ryan Fitzpatrick didn't let his new contract get to his head and had a great game, going 21 for 27 for 262 yards and two touchdowns. The Redskins also allowed 138 yards rushing and 4.2 yards per attempt.
After the jump, let's take a look at how the 49ers match up against the Redskins.
Like the Browns, the Redskins defense is ahead of its offense. Football outsiders ranks them 30th in offensive efficiency and 9th in defensive efficiency. The Redskins rank 12th in passing yards allowed with 223.1 per game. It is worth noting that they rank 20th in average yards per pass attempt with 7.6, however. Football Outsiders ranks their pass defense at 10th overall and the rushing at 20th overall.
Like I said earlier, the Redskins defense seems to rank very similarly to the Browns. Luckily for the 49ers, the Redskins deficiency coincides with the 49ers greatest strength: the running game. We could be in for another ugly game that features a heavy dose of Frank Gore and defense.
Greg Cossell, an NFL films analyst, had this to say about Quarterback John Beck:
It’s a really hard position, and I’m not trying to defend anybody but it’s really hard. John Beck at his best is a rhythm quarterback. Three step, five step, ball comes out. Play-action, boot action – that’s designed movement off play action. That’s what John Beck is. If John Beck is forced to take deep drops because they’re behind and have to throw the ball at intermediate and deeper levels, then you’ve won. That’s not something he can do with any consistency. He needs to be, as we say, an ‘on-schedule’ quarterback. He needs to be 1st and 10, 2nd and 6, 3rd and 3, and then John Beck’s positive traits can come out. If he’s behind schedule, behind the maker as we say, then he’s not going to well at all.
The 49ers should be able to stop the Redskins running game, which ranks 26th in the NFL and averages 3.9 yards per carry. With the Redskins question marks on the offensive line and at the quarterback position, the front seven should have a field day. I'm sure Justin Smith, Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks are licking their chops after seeing Beck get sacked 10 times against the Bills.
Judging from Cosell's scouting report, Beck is more comfortable getting the ball out quick on underneath routes. This should bode well for the 49ers, who only seem to struggle on deep balls. With Navorro Bowman and Patrick Willis they are well equipped to handle screens and short passes over the middle.
The strength of the Redskins defense is the play of their safeties, so we may not see Vernon Davis have a breakout game after being pretty quiet the last few games. It will be imperative for Braylon Edwards and Michael Crabtree to win their match-ups on the outside if Davis is taken away again.
The 49ers should be able to win on Sunday and bring their road record to 4-0 on the season (all east coast road trips by the way). They match up well with the Redskins, as the 49ers strengths seem to be their weaknesses. Look for the 49ers to pressure Beck without blitzing and give them a healthy dose of Frank Gore. I wouldn't bet on this being a pretty win with Alex Smith throwing for 350 yards and three touchdowns.
I know everyone wants to see the 49ers throw down the field for big gains, but if things go according to plan they won't have to do that on Sunday.