KRAVITZ conversation: Colts vs Redskins

Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Preston Brown (52) intercepts a pass by Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) during the first half of an NFL football game in Indianapolis, Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
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Bob Kravitz

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - The Colts (0-1) travel to Washington Sunday to face the Redskins (1-0) in a 1:00 p.m. kickoff.

Here's Bob Kravitz' conversation with Washington beat reporter John Keim of ESPN.com:

KRAVITZ:

How has Washington rebuilt itself this offseason besides the obvious addition of quarterback Alex Smith?

KEIM:

They drafted nose tackle Daron Payne to pair him with his former Alabama linemate Jonathan Allen. Of their top five linemen, four are 24 years old or younger so it’s the first time in a real long time that they have excellent building blocks. Payne’s strength in the middle has been obvious since training camp opened. A big difference, too, is that Allen is healthy after missing 11 games with a Lisfranc injury and third-year end Matt Ioannidis has recovered from a broken hand. They also drafted another defensive lineman, Tim Settle, in the fifth round and he’s become a part of their rotation.

They really didn’t add too many other key parts on defense as much as get players healthy, such as safety Montae Nicholson. Two of their three starting corners have changed – but both were on the roster last year (Quinton Dunbar and Fabian Moreau). Inside linebacker Mason Foster missed 11 games with a shoulder injury and he’s back. But the “rebuilt” aspect comes in the form of Payne.

On offense, they drafted running back Derrius Guice with the idea he’d be a playmaker. But he tore his ACL in the first preseason game and, eventually, signed Adrian Peterson. He looked good in the opener with 96 yards on 26 carries. They also signed speedy free agent receiver Paul Richardson. He’ll run a variety of routes and his speed will be felt as much on crossers – shallow or deep – as on straight go-routes or deep posts. But, as on defense, the big key has been a return to health of key players such as left tackle Trent Williams, running back Chris Thompson and tight end Jordan Reed. All missed at least six games in 2017 and their presence makes a tremendous difference.

Finally, adding Smith prompted them to re-shape their run game because of his ability to handle zone read and run-pass option looks. Frank Reich will see a lot of familiar looks when scouting this offense. They were more creative with the run game in the season opener thanks to what Smith adds.

KRAVITZ:

Ryan Kerrigan is a local guy for us, coming from Purdue. He continues to have a very fine career. What kind of impact has he made and continue to make for that Washington defense?

KEIM:

A big one. Kerrigan has never missed a start in the NFL, a remarkable feat for any player let alone one who must crash into players on practically every down. He’s never been a captain or anything, but he’s definitely an example in the locker room of how to do things right; how to take care of your body; how to be a professional; how to study. He’s not a rah-rah guy, but rather a leader by example. The more guys you have like that the better off you’ll be. The Redskins have helped in recent years by rotating their outside linebackers more, trying to keep them fresh.

He’s been steady with his approach and with his play. He’s capable of excellent sack totals (13 last year; 13.5 in 2014), but it’s really just his consistent play that coaches love. They know he’ll be where he needs to be and they know how he’ll rush the passer and that he’ll be relentless in doing so. He’ll make the occasional Pro Bowl at a difficult position.

KRAVITZ:

Ok...the picks. The weather may impact the game but either way, I see the Colts losing. It’ll be close but Indy always seems to find a way to lose these kinds of games. Their lack of a running game, with or without Marlon Mack, concerns me. Make it 21-16 Washington. What’s your pick and why?

KEIM:

So here's my prediction:

The forecast for this weekend, as of now, is dry so weather shouldn't be an issue. I think. The Redskins' run game was creative and energizing in their opener, using more RPOs and zone read looks in addition to motions to freeze the defense. Frank Reich will recognize some of this from his Philly days. It'll be enough for the Redskins' offense to power through. And the Colts' offense lacks enough weapons to threaten the Redskins' defense, which is stronger up front than it has been in years. If the back end plays disciplined, that will be enough. Redskins, 24-17.

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