Here are my keys to the game for the Washington Redskins to go into New Orleans and upset Drew Brees and the Saints Week 1:
It’s Robert Griffin’s first regular season start, and it occurs on the road in a very tough stadium to play in. The Washington Redskins would be wise to keep their offense simple to help Griffin transition to the NFL game. They should utilize a lot of quick screens and slants when he’s asked to stand in the pocket. On other plays they need to focus on moving the pocket with simple one or two read bootlegs and rollouts. Though simplifying the offense will make it easier for the Saints defense to take away certain things, it’s worth doing if Griffin is his most comfortable and by extension effective.
The New Orleans Saints aren’t known to have a great pass rush, but still do a solid job at getting pressure on the quarterback. With questions throughout the Washington dRedskins offensive line, this is going to be a crucial battle that will determine the success of the Redskins on Sunday. Pressure is an absolute killer for quarterbacks, and Robert Griffin has enough things to worry about already. Scheme wise hopefully a quicker passing game and moving the pocket more will help relieve some of the pressure, but it is hardly a guarantee. The Washington Redskins need to use their tight ends and backs more to stay in and block, or at least chip defenders on their way out on routes. It limits their offense some, but a limited offense with a quarterback standing is perferable to a more expansive offense with a quarterback running for his life or on the ground.
The only way to “Stop” the Saints offense is to keep them off the field as much as possible. The Redskins need to milk the clock with sustained 10-12 play drives, that neutralize Jimmy Graham and company. A stronger rushing attack also makes Robert Griffin’s life quite a bit easier. Not only does he not have to do everything himself, but if the Saints need to stop the run, it could open some things up in the passing game. How successful Evan Royster, Roy Helu, and Alfred Morris are, will have a direct correlation to the Redskins chances of winning.
There is really not a lot the Redskins can do to stop Drew Brees and the passing offense when they are on the field, but they can try to take away the Saints running game. It’s not an easy task as the Saints were a top 5 unit (in yards per carry) last season. They maintain quality backs and a good offensive line, but if the Redskins defense can find a way to stop them it could be enough to keep the Saints score manageable. The one caveat for the Washington Redskins defense, is that they not only have to stop the Saints rushing attack, but they have to do so without bringing in any extra guys in the box. The can’t afford to give Drew Brees any additional space in the defensive backfield, meaning the Redskins front seven will be on their own.
– You can’t beat a team like the Saints on the road by settling for field goals and not finishing drives. When the Redskins get inside the red zone they have to make sure that they are finishing the drive in the end zone. The Redskins offense last year stalled out far too often last season as they got close to the end zone, but that simply can’t happen if they want to win this game. Also, when they do go to attempt longer field goals in this game, new Washington Redskins kicker Billy Cundiff has to connect. He has no excuses to miss anything while playing inside a dome.