So it’s up to defensive coordinator Perry Fewell to optimize the pieces he does have healthy in order to contain Robert Griffin III and the Redskins’ offense.
RG III has been hampered himself by injuries all season, but Fewell still considers him the same dynamic player that he showed he can be last season.
“He (Griffin III) surprised everybody with just his abilities last year,” Fewell said. “I think he’s still a dangerous threat. I really see no difference. I think defenses have learned how to defend him a little bit better, not that you can totally shut him down.”
Starting the defensive line, Fewell said the absence of JPP opens up a spot for Damontre Moore at defensive end. Cullen Jenkins will also shift to the outside, with Markus Kuhn available for some snaps on the inside.
But since the Redskins’ offense relies heavily on unconventional looks, the experienced Jenkins may see the bulk of the time on the outside, Fewell said.
“This is a difficult offense for any defensive end because it is a read option offense; it is a play action offense,” Fewell said. “They do a number of things to make the defensive ends think, so it is quite difficult.”
As for the secondary, Jayron Hosley practiced all week with the first unit, and rookie Charles James also may contribute. Fewell said he’s confident these guys can do the job, especially Hosley.
“Jayron has good cover skills,” Fewell said. “I think he’s a good matchup for some of the quick guys that they (Redskins) have in there in their lineup, so I don’t think we’ll miss a beat from that standpoint as far as the quickness and the matchups are concerned.”
On that final drive against the Cowboys last week, Fewell said that the defense was in its dime formation with six defensive backs (Antrel Rolle, Prince Amukamara, Terrell Thomas, Will Hill, Ryan Mundy and Hosley) on the field. Rolle was moved down to slot cornerback, and Dez Bryant had his way with him.
Rolle still may be called upon before James in a nickel-type situation. The injury to McBride – who very quietly was a consistent pass defender the past few weeks – has made this secondary thinner than it already is.
Containing Griffin III will be the main focus Sunday night, but that task becomes even more difficult given the lack of healthy starters on this unit.
Follow Jim Mancari on Twitter @JMMancari.