-Like most quarterbacks Rivers doesn’t respond well to pressure, but it is maybe even a bit more pronounced with him. Looking at Rivers history you can see this to be the case. In 2010 the Chargers were just completely unlucky with their injuries among their skill guys. Vincent Jackson missed most of the year (he had a suspension and holdout as well), Floyd missed time, Antonio Gates missed significant time. Even some of the back-up receivers and tight ends were missing games. The Chargers were signing guys the week of the game and forcing them into action. Despite all that turmoil, Rivers had one of the best seasons of his career and the Chargers a top 5 offense. Conversely last year the Chargers had a deep skill position group, but their line was a mess with guys not producing and some injuries piling up. Rivers had the worst year of his career and the offense was in shambles. The reason why was because he was under constant pressure and just couldn’t handle it.
This year is playing out like 2010 for the Chargers as they are dealing with multiple receiver injuries, but are still able to have a top offense. The Chargers offensive line is playing well, but they still aren’t that great and the Redskins need to take advantage of that and generate a steady stream of pressure on Rivers. For as good of a year as he’s having, Rivers will get sloppy with the ball if the Redskins keep him uncomfortable back there.
-The Redskins secondary (particularly DeAngelo Hall) is playing much better this year, but that doesn’t mean they are shutting down teams completely. While Hall and company may match-up well versus the Chargers receivers and Antonio Gates (another guy to watch), the big concern is who will stop Danny Woodhead. Woodhead has been an extremely dangerous option out of the backfield for the Chargers and he has been eating teams alive this year. The Redskins have to have a game plan to slow him down if they want to limit this Chargers offense. If not Rivers will dump it off all day to Woodhead and keep churning out big plays. This is going to be a really tough task as it is doubtful any of the linebackers can run with him. The best solution may be to use bracket coverage as much as possible, with either two linebackers or a linebacker and safety who is in the box.
-Morris is leading the league (among running backs) in yards per attempt, yet for some reason the Redskins have cut his attempts by 5 per game. This team was not built to be a pass first team, and they shouldn’t be taking carries away from their best player and top back Alfred Morris. The Redskins have to get Morris the ball 20+ times this game if they hope to win. If they fail to do so and try to win this game through the air they will be sitting at 2-6 after this game.
-Last year the Redskins used the screen game and quick passing to have one of the top offenses in the league. It allowed Griffin to be a one read quarterback where he could decisively deliver the ball and put his receiver in a position to pick up big yards after the catch. This year though the Redskins are trying to have more of a drop back offense and it is simply not working. Not only is Griffin struggling by locking on his receivers or not seeing the defenders at times, but it’s exposing him to quick a bit more pressure. The craziest thing is the Redskins have dropped their behind the line of scrimmage passing from 22% of the offense to about 10% of the offense. These are the easiest plays and the ones that helped keep the ball moving down the field last year. This year they are afterthoughts and it is hurting this offense. The Redskins need to get back to doing more screens and quick passes off play action to jump start this offense.
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-Now look a lot of the pressure/sacks/fumbles this year falls on the shoulders of RGIII as he’s not feeling the pressure well or reading blitzes, but the thing is it is the Redskins job to compensate in those areas. Griffin shouldn’t expected to be great at feeling pressure or reading blitzes, afterall he’s a 2nd year quarterback who is coming from a very entertaining, but simplistic Baylor offense. It’s not shocking that Griffin hasn’t refined this part of his game yet. Also, why aren’t you trying to protect him better? He’s your franchise quarterback who is coming off a major knee injury, yet the Redskins are exposing him to hits by asking him to throw so much.
Now two of the things they can simply do are above, and that is running the football more with Morris and throwing more quick passes that prevent the defense from having time to rush the quarterback. Beyond that though the Redskins need to do more with their protection calls and keep guys back there with him to pick-up blitzes. Another thing they can do is roll him out to one side. It might halve the field for Griffin to throw to, but it should also eliminate some of the pressure. In the end it should be a combination of everything, but it needs to be a top priority.