Redskins-Packers Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated September 11, 2013
A quarterback known mostly for his mobility sat back and picked apart the Green Bay Packers' defense through the air last week, leaving half of the team's defensive game plan in ruins. Not much went according to plan for Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins in their opener either, mainly due to their once-dynamic running game being held in check. Green Bay faces a similar test Sunday, as Griffin looks to help Washington turn in a more complete effort on offense in his first visit to Lambeau Field. While the Packers focused on keeping Colin Kaepernick in the pocket after he torched them for an NFL quarterback-record 181 rushing yards in January's NFC divisional playoff loss, Kaepernick was busy throwing for a career-high 412 yards and three touchdowns - while totaling just 22 yards on the ground - to help San Francisco beat Green Bay 34-28 last Sunday. "When you're playing a quarterback that has those kinds of talents and can move around and has a strong arm, you've got to be able to (stop) both (aspects of his game)," defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. "We played one phase well, we didn't play the other phase well enough." Griffin is considered one of those quarterbacks despite having offseason knee surgery after leading all NFL signal-callers with 815 rushing yards as a rookie in 2012. But after taking zero preseason snaps, Griffin appeared rusty in Monday night's 33-27 loss to Philadelphia. A fumble, an interception and a botched handoff that led to a safety on the first three possessions forced Griffin to throw a career-most 49 passes while rushing for only 24 yards. He set career highs of 30 completions and 329 yards passing while tossing two touchdowns, but he also threw a pair of interceptions for the first time as a pro. "I'm responsible for the way I play," Griffin said. "You move on from it. I'm not going to sit here and say I was rusty. I've got to be accountable." Coach Mike Shanahan wouldn't bite on questions about Griffin's play. "I don't critique players though the media," Shanahan said. "We didn't do the things offensively that we needed to do as a group." Packers coach Mike McCarthy was more open about the challenges he faces attempting to stop Griffin. "He's a mobile quarterback that has the ability to stretch the defense," McCarthy told the team's official website. "He has the ability to make plays in space and he can make all the throws. In any Mike Shanahan offense, it starts with running the football." The Redskins, though, didn't do that very well Monday either, much to the disappointment of Shanahan. Their 74 rushing yards were far below last season's average of 169.3 that led the NFL. Alfred Morris carried 12 times for 45 yards and a touchdown, fumbling on the first offensive play and combining with Griffin to fumble the handoff in the end zone that led to a safety on the team's third possession. When asked about the performance of the running game, Shanahan sarcastically asked, "What running game?" Washington also had issues trying to slow Philadelphia's no-huddle, up-tempo offense, something it also should get a glimpse of from Green Bay. McCarthy described his team's no-huddle offense as "up and down" in last week's loss. Four touchdown drives combined for 287 yards in 8 minutes, 21 seconds, but their remaining eight drives included going three-and-out five times. Aaron Rodgers threw for 333 yards and three touchdowns, while Jordy Nelson (130 yards) and Randall Cobb (108) each caught seven passes and a TD. Eddie Lacy ran 14 times for only 41 yards, though, as the Packers totaled 63 on the ground. "It's one game, we lost, now we go back home," Rodgers said. "You want to look at the big picture but also address the things you did wrong. We're going to do that and be back next week." Green Bay has won 20 of its last 21 regular-season games at Lambeau Field, with the only loss coming to San Francisco in last season's home opener. Redskins receiver Pierre Garcon, who caught seven passes for 64 yards Monday, knows his team is in for a tough environment. "You never want to start 0-2," Garcon said. "I know it's going to be loud, it's their home opener and we're looking forward to a good game." Packers safety Morgan Burnett didn't play last week due to a hamstring injury, and his status for Sunday is uncertain. Washington linebacker Ryan Kerrigan passed concussion tests and has been cleared to play after taking a shot to the head near the end of Monday's game.
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