Redskins Keys to the Game:
Run The Ball Effectively: I don’t care if it is Ryan Torain, Keiland Williams, or James Davis the Redskins need to be able to sustain drives on the ground. Yes I know the offensive line is bad, and the running back talent isn’t the greatest, but you have to be able to do something. The Buccaneers have a solid defense, but it isn’t spectacular. Keep their offense off the field and give your thin defense a rest.
Focus on Shorter Passes: Yes I know that McNabb is among the league leaders in passes over 40 yards, but it really isn’t affecting the Redskins scoreboard and it sure isn’t affecting their win column. The Redskins don’t have the home run hitters that other teams have, so lets try to work on efficiency to help sustain drives (see above). Players like Moss, Cooley and Davis all can thrive in the intermediate passing game, and if they break it for a big gain (like they already have this season) so be it. If they don’t they are at least picking up first downs.
Utilize Your Tight Ends: Tight End is the one position the Redskins have an advantage at, so it is high time they actually get them involved. Cooley has had a good season (albeit with too many drops), and Fred Davis has had a few big plays but too often they get ignored. This is especially true on third downs, when they need to come up big the most. Force those safeties to start matching up on Cooley and Davis, which should hopefully give Moss some more room to work.
Have More Hot Reads: I don’t know if it is bad game planning, McNabb not reading the pressure, or McNabb not realizing that sacks are bad, but the Redskins are taking WAY too many sacks in crucial situations. Now sacks are going to happen, and they are more likely to happen with a porous offensive line, but there is still no excuse for as many as the Skins are taking. If you are Ben Roethlisberger or Philip Rivers maybe you can take some ‘extra’ sacks, because you are so good otherwise. But if you are Donovan McNabb and you have a completion percentage under 60% and a horrible 3rd down conversion rate, maybe it is a good idea to have a check down receiver (or even throw the ball away). Luckily the Buccaneers have one of the worst pass rushes in the league, so hopefully it won’t be too much of an issue today, but if McNabb gets sacked multiple times the Skins are too blame.
Pressure Josh Freeman: Freeman is having an impressive Sophomore campaign, but he isn’t perfect (though still looking like the best QB from that class). If you put some pressure on him he is known to make a mistake or two, which is important considering Carlos Rodgers and LaRon Landry will be out today. If Freeman has time he’ll pick apart this secondary, if there is some pressure maybe the Skins have a chance.
Defensive Line Needs to Play Big: Mike Shanahan and Jim Haslett finally have what they wish for, a defensive line without Albert Haynesworth. The only problem is when Haynesworth hasn’t played this defense has been pretty ineffective. Now the distractions and the player who doesn’t ‘play in the system’ are gone, so they need to have a big performance from their 3-4 D-line to prove they were right. The Redskins have to generate an inside push if Brian Orakpo (see above) can get any pressure on the quarterback. I have little faith in this unit, but they need to step up if the Redskins are to win this game.
Prediction: Buccaneers 27-17.