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Matchup of the Game

Posted Sep 20, 2012


Robert Geathers

BENGALS LE ROBERT GEATHERS VS. REDSKINS QB ROBERT GRIFFIN III:

It turns out that RG III is going to meet RG II Sunday (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 12) when the beleaguered Bengals defense takes on Griffin's NFL-best scoring offense. In fact, Robert Geathers Jr., already knows an RG III: his son, Robert Geathers III.

"He's more than unique; he's good," RG III's dad says of the one he plays Sunday.

Geathers should have some help at left end with the return of Carlos Dunlap, but how effective the team's best pass rusher is going to be after not playing since he sprained his knee in the Aug. 10 preseason opener is anyone's guess. With how the Redskins attack the edge with Griffin on rollouts in their version of "The Pistol," it would seem the Bengals have to go with four ends and one of them has to be the just-arrived Wallace Gilberry from the street via Tampa Bay.

The task is simple, the foe is not. Dave Lapham, the Bengals radio analyst who broadcast about a half dozen of Griffin's games at Baylor for the Big 12 Network, has been raving about him for three years.

"He's rare. There aren't any quarterbacks that run a sub-4.4 and throw the ball downfield 70 yards. Shanahan must love it," says Lapham, referring to Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan. "He's got another one."

It was Shanahan that head-coached John Elway to two Super Bowl titles at the end of his career in Denver and that's all Lapham can see.

"He's a faster John Elway," Lapham says. "Maybe you're splitting hairs on who has the stronger arm. He's got a very strong arm. Elway had a rocket. Griffin is close. He's faster than Elway and Elway could really move before he messed up his knee."

It begins and ends on the perimeter when the Redskins deploy Griffin on the zone reads. Basically Washington is running the outside veer and the defensive end has to take the QB or the back. No matter what they do, the ends have to chase Griffin relentlessly and pen him into the pocket.  

Geathers, 29, dean of the Bengals defense with 120 games played, returns to the site of his first NFL start in 2004. He's the only guy still with the club that played that day the Bengals beat Redskins quarterback Patrick Ramsey behind Rudi Johnson's 31 totes and Geathers's second NFL sack in their last trip to FedExField.

Geathers goes from the old to the new in a span of a week when it comes to rookie QBs. Geathers is the same age as Cleveland's Brandon Weeden, but at 22 RGIII is the first QB the Bengals play that was born in the '90s, and they have to find a way keep up with the former world-class hurdler with a depleted roster of ends.

Geathers has been talking about his team's lack of discipline up front in the first two games and he says the Bengals need it now more than ever against Griffin's speed on the perimeter.

"He can roll out and get out of the pocket and he's not looking to run; he's looking to throw," Geathers says. "We have to try and keep him in the pocket. We can't be all beside ourselves trying to chase him around. We have to keep him in the well. That's what he does best. He rolls out and throws it down the field. It's important for us to be disciplined in the pass rush lanes. Be disciplined in what we do up front.

"He can throw it however he needs to throw it. They do a lot of things to get him outside. A lot of the plays are designed for that. In our rushes we have to make sure we coordinate with one another and communicate and we should be fine."

Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis also talked discipline Thursday when he appeared on Sirius Radio in comments picked up by The Washington Post. Lewis said that a third of the Redskins offense is devoted to the zone read, an offense that spreads out the defense with a heady quarterback taking what the defense gives him on the perimeter. It's an offense in the hands of an Olympic athlete like Griffin that can put tremendous stress on perimeter players.

"You saw it a little less against St. Louis. The quarterback got hit a couple times against St. Louis, too." Lewis said on the air via The Post. "That’s the thing. As you go through the course of a running quarterback’s career, it’s hard to sustain it, because they’re taking these licks out there. And he took a couple good licks last week."

“[Defenders] all are somewhat familiar with how to make the read, but you don’t have a guy that’s going to [show RGIII’s] athleticism once he pulls the ball, so you can forget that. But you just have to be very disciplined, you have to take some time, and it becomes a little bit of the focus of what you’re doing."

The Bengals have to be disciplined because Griffin is going to be. Lapham has sat in enough production meetings with Griffin to get that.

"Both his parents are master sergeants and he's smart, disciplined, a leader, you name it," Lapham says.

As long as the Bengals defenders talk to each other, RG II thinks they can still fly around with discipline.

"You can still play fast; you just have to be smart," Geathers says. "If we're going to try something, we have to let each other know what we're doing so we can work off that move."

 

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