The Redskins are losing their number two receiver Leonard Hankerson for the rest of the season and Jordan Reed is out for Monday night’s game. Here are the 5 ways the Redskins can cope with these injuries:
-The Redskins have to find a way to not be throwing the ball 40+ times a game and need to ensure they are running the ball at least that much. This Redskins offense can’t effectively throw the ball that many times with Reed and Hankerson, they aren’t going to find it any better without them. Washington needs to run the ball early and often and try to wear down this 49ers defense. Obviously Alfred Morris needs to be the bell cow, and RGIII should be involved as well, but they need to get Young and Helu involved as well.
-Last year the Redskins threw the ball behind the line on over 22% of the time, this year they are throwing it behind the line 13% of the time. This is pretty big drop off, and helps to explain the lower completion percentage. The Redskins have had a number of big plays off the screen this year, and while you can’t always count on that the Redskins should be able to count on positive yards on these plays. That can help put the Redskins in better 3rd down situations (or not force the Skins into those situations). The screen game will probably be the easiest way to get Pierre Garcon involved, but they should also utilize Moss, Nick Williams and Roy Helu in the screen game as well.
-The Redskins have been so reliant on Pierre Garcon, Jordan Reed and Leonard Hankerson this year and there has been some controversy surrounding Fred Davis and Josh Morgan. The Redskins have to show that there are no issues in the locker room/huddle and get Morgan and Davis involved early on. Robert Griffin needs to establish a connection with these guys and get in an early rhythm. If they can get involved early on, they can perhaps start to draw some attention from the 49ers defense allowing some other things to open up, and maybe limiting the double coverage of Garcon.
-Roy Helu has gotten some targets and every now and then Darrel Young gets a shot, but Alfred Morris has barely seen the ball in the passing game. The Redskins should try to get all three backs more involved this week and even run some sets with both Helu and Morris on the field. The Redskins need to do some things the 49ers won’t expect and getting the backs more involved is a good way to do that. Now this doesn’t just mean utilizing them in the screen game or to dump the ball off (though that is a great way to help neutralize the blitz). The Redskins should have them running some routes down the field in the intermediate game. Helu is the best of the bunch and will present the biggest threat to the 49ers. This would be a great game to get him the ball 4-6 times. Morris is the guy who it would be nice to see him more involved in the passing game. He only has three catches a year and defenses definitely don’t respect him as a threat. In fact he is so rarely in there on passing downs that they can cause quite a bit of confusion for the 49ers.
-Most weeks Pierre Garcon is the focal point of the passing game, and typically you are calling plays to get him the football. That can maybe work if you have some other targets that defenses have to respect, but this week without Hankerson and Reed, Garcon is probably going to see a good bit of double-coverage. The Redskins need to use that to their advantage. Now it doesn’t sound like a big advantage, but it can be if executed properly. The other part of this is with defenses being able to predict the plays, you can catch them guessing and exploit their aggression. If Garcon runs certain routes, it is very likely you can get corners and safeties to commit early and clear out an area for another wide receiver. Now obviously you want to get the ball to Garcon some and the screen game is a good way to do that, but it’s doubtful the Redskins can win if they are trying to force him the ball 10-15 times this game.