Well, at least the Vikings don’t have the quarterback question hanging over their head this week. Coach Leslie Frazier already has announced that Christian Ponder will make his third consecutive start. A goal-line stand at the end of regulation and 500 total yards of offense helped Washington earn an overtime victory against San Diego on Sunday. As the teams prepare to play their second game in five days, here are three things about Thursday’s matchup that you should know:
1. The Vikings defense is getting a cram session on how to defend Robert Griffin III and the read-option offense.
Frazier said the Redskins are utilizing more option now that RGIII looks more like himself after having surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate knee ligament.
“You can see they’ve gone back to what they did a season ago and had success,” Frazier said. “That’s in large part due to the quarterback seeming to be more confident in what he’s doing and the coaches calling plays they ran a year ago. It seems they’re becoming that offense again.”
The Redskins are ranked sixth in the NFL in rushing and have eclipsed 200 yards in three games. The Redskins have posted seven 200-yard rushing games since 2012, the most in the NFL in that span.
The Redskins are 10-1 in games in which Alfred Morris gets 20-plus carries. Morris averages 5.2 yards per carry. The Redskins lead the NFL in rushing yards per attempt (5.0).
By comparison, Dallas ran the ball only nine times against the Vikings on Sunday.
“Not much comparison for these styles of offenses,” Frazier said.
2. Ponder accounted for three turnovers — two interceptions and a fumble — in a loss to Washington last season. Former Vikings safety Madieu Williams returned an interception for a touchdown.
The Redskins already have scored five defensive touchdowns this season, second most in the NFL. They have returned four of their nine interceptions for touchdowns, two by DeAngelo Hall, who also has returned a fumble for a touchdown.
Washington needs only one defensive touchdown to tie the team record, last accomplished in 1984.
“You watch DeAngelo Hall and he’s jumping all over routes,” Ponder said. “[Linebacker] London Fletcher does the same thing. They’re a ball-hawking team. Each game they kind of play differently schematically for each game, so they’re going to do a lot of game planning. And they’re good at finding the ball.”
3. The Vikings were one of only three teams that started the same five offensive linemen for all 16 games in 2012. The San Francisco 49ers and New York Jets were the other two teams.
The Vikings started that same group — left tackle Matt Kalil, left guard Charlie Johnson, center John Sullivan, right guard Brandon Fusco and right tackle Phil Loadholt — the first eight games this season.
Their streak will end Thursday with Loadholt sidelined because of a concussion. J’Marcus Webb, who replaced Loadholt in the second quarter Sunday, will get the start.
Johnson suffered an elbow injury in the Dallas game and did not practice Tuesday. Joe Berger likely would start if Johnson is unable to play.