Few Clouds 31° Good Afternoon
Few Clouds 31° Good Afternoon

Redskins' offense causes problems for Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck

New York Giants defensive end Justin Tuck and

New York Giants defensive end Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora celebrate a fumble returned for a touchdown by Michael Boley during the first half of an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Nov. 4, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

Osi Umenyiora is getting too old for this.

The defensive end, longest-tenured Giant and a 31-year-old free-agent-to-be has had a long and prosperous NFL career. And he's coming off a game in which he executed one of his trademark strip-sacks to help beat the Packers.

But Monday night, it will be like going back to school for Umenyiora and the rest of the Giants' defense. Back to college.

The Redskins come in with young legs -- rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III and rookie running back Alfred Morris -- and an even younger offensive system. They use the read option, in which the quarterback's and running back's actions are dependent upon the defense's reaction. Or lack of one. And it's working to the tune of 162.9 rushing yards per game.

"It's a frustrating offense in general, the things they do," Umenyiora said. "I'm a grown man, I don't really want to be playing against that kind of offense at this stage of my career. But that's what's being presented in front of us and we have to do that."

It took the Giants' defense a little while to get used to their own reads in the first game against the Redskins. Washington ran for 248 yards, by far the most the Giants have allowed on the ground this season, but 146 yards came in the first half.

"They are run first," Tom Coughlin said. "But they're multiple in terms of how they approach that run. Because they're so good at it, they create opportunities with the pass that are just incredible . . . Hell, they're running around with nobody within 20 yards of the receivers."

It's not an unfamiliar scheme. But the level of the athletes who are operating it might be unique.

"The toughest team I played against in college to prepare for was Navy [which runs a similar system], but they don't have the athletes like RG3 or Santana Moss," Justin Tuck said of facing the complicated offense.

Although it may make Tuck and Umenyiora feel old, the offense can get stale pretty quickly. NFL defenses have an ability to squelch brushfire offenses that set the league ablaze for a short time and then are doused. Anyone running the Wildcat these days?

The read option also has the disadvantage of putting its maestro at risk.

"I think in this offense, it's all predicated on the quarterback," Tuck said. "If RG3 stays healthy, I think this offense is going to continue to roll. But the thing about it is, who wants their franchise quarterback getting hit every play?"

Griffin has had one concussion this season. The Redskins have done a good job of tutoring him on decision-making to avoid further hits, but even with his advantage of being the fastest man on the field, defenses will get their licks.

"If they had a second RG3 to back him up, which there is none, then you can say that the shelf life of this offense is a little bit longer," Tuck said. "If he pulls a hamstring or has an ankle injury for a couple of weeks, where do you go then?"

New York Sports