5 Things the Redskins Need to Fix in Week 2

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1. Offensive Play Calling:

-Perhaps nothing is more frustrating than watching the success that running backs Alfred Morris and Roy Helu Jr. had against the Texans defense, when they rushed for a combined 7.61 yards per carry, only to see them carry the ball a combined 18 times. That is just inexcusable in a game that until their final drive only had the Redskins down no more than 8 points. The Morris/Helu combo also led the Redskins to their only TD drive, yet it continued to be an after thought in the Redskins offensive game plan. Of those 18 runs, just four were for less than 6 yards. What makes it even worse is that 11 of the 29 completed passes that were for less than 6 yards. That is just completed passes, that doesn’t take into account the 8 incompleted passes which obviously gained nothing. It’s clear that running the football was the winning strategy for the Redskins, and they simply got away from it. If that wasn’t bad enough the passing game plays and route combinations, for the most part were pretty vanilla. They used similar concepts throughout the game, making it easy for the Texans to recognize plays and their responsibilities. It was a pretty disappointing game plan for a highly respected offensive minded coach like Jay Gruden.

If the Redskins don’t get more creative with their pass plays and run the football more, they will just be making it too easy for the Jaguars to stop them. The Texans defense was pretty impressive (mainly D.J. Swearinger and J.J. Watt), but the Jaguars showed versus the Eagles that they can make some plays as well. The Redskins need to be more aggressive in taking some shots down the field, while running it down the Jaguars throats if that is working. Use the run game to set up the play action and hopefully get some favorable coverages to take advantage of.

2. Offensive Line Protection/Pocket Awareness:

-Now obviously most of the pressure and sacks comes from failures along the offensive line (or other blockers as well), but the quarterback is responsible as well for his share. Last week Robert Griffin III was sacked 3 times, hit 14 times and had an intentional grounding penalty. All of those are unacceptable numbers and very problematic if any continue to occur in that frequency. What’s even worse is the numbers could have been worse but a sack and two QB hits were negated (only on the stat sheet, Griffin still felt them) due to defensive penalties. The Jaguars might not have J.J. Watt, but they have a good defensive line with a lot of depth, that managed 5 sacks on Nick Foles week 1. Though the Eagles line was missing some players, they are still probably a better line than the Redskins, so the fact that Jacksonville had that level of success is troubling.

The Redskins have to hold up versus this defensive line and give Griffin the time needed to throw the football on more of those intermediate and vertical routes. At the same time Griffin needs to recognize pressure better and do what it takes to minimize it’s impact. If it’s coming from the edge he has to step up (when the interior has held up), if it’s coming up the middle he’s got to move his feet to whatever side is more clear (preferably behind Trent). Griffin also needs to know when throwing the ball away is the answer (and do so in such a way to not get an intentional grounding call). There is no doubt due to the weakness of the OL that Griffin will be pressured, but a big part of his development is how he handles that pressure.

3. Turnovers:

-Not even counting the blocked punt returned for the Touchdown, the Redskins had two costly turnovers last Sunday to the Texans one turnover. Now much has been made that the Redskins fumbled twice inside the 10 yard line, and how that swung the game. There is no doubt that turning the ball over twice like that cost the Redskins points (whether it would be 6 or 14 is up for debate), but really two turnovers anywhere can be devastating, particularly when you lose the turnover battle. Last year the Redskins had 34 turnovers in 16 games (2.125 a game), which was 30th in the league, and a big part of their struggles last season. The Redskins can’t afford another multi-turnover game if they don’t want to get upset by the Jaguars. Unfortunately it looks like the Jaguars could prove to be a tougher test for the Redskins as they forced 3 turnovers against a pretty good Eagles offense. The Redskins have to be smart with the football and simply can’t afford to give the Jaguars any extra chances. Jacksonville capitalized on some short fields last week, and they will be looking to do so once again.

4. Getting More Pressure on the QB:

-The Redskins lone sack was apparently taken away by the NFL official statistics, meaning their lackluster pass rush day looks even worse. Now it was clear that the Texans were scheming to prevent the pass rush from being a factor, and they were able to execute this perfectly. Unfortunately the Redskins didn’t have a good answer and it meant that far too often the Redskins best pass rusher, Brian Orakpo, was in coverage rather than trying to get after the QB. The Texans achieved this in 3 major ways. First they were up most of the game so they were able to focus on the ground game and they trusted their defense to hold a slim lead. The 2nd thing they did was run the football to limit 3rd and long passing opportunities. Even though the Redskins held up pretty well versus the run, the Texans were in a lot of 3rd and 3-5 yard situations. That made it harder for the Redskins to justify a blitz or have their pass rushers pin their ears back, because they still had to watch the run. The final thing the Texans did is scheme their plays well to avoid pressure. They would run empty back sets or trips on the side of Brian Orakpo basically forcing him into coverage when the Redskins were in their base personnel. The Texans also called a lot of quick passes, especially when they were in longer distance situations. They simply didn’t give the Redskins defenders time to get past the offensive line.

This week the Redskins need to game plan this week to find ways to generate more pressure and to free up Brian Orakpo to get after the quarterback more. The Jaguars like the Texans are definitely going to try to do some of the same thing to slow down the rush and neutralize Orakpo. The Redskins need to adjust their assignments to get Orakpo after the QB more this week, or teams will just do this all season to take the Redskins best pass rusher out of the game plan. The Redskins coverage also needs to be tighter if they are expecting a lot of screens and quick passes, otherwise Chad Henne will kill them underneath before the pressure ever has time to reach him.

5. Special Teams Miscues:

-Despite all the emphasis on special teams this offseason the Redskins made two major mistakes on special teams (also Darrel Young running into Andre Roberts didn’t bode well either), allowing both a blocked extra point and a blocked punt (that was returned for a TD). It’s unlikely that those mistakes will happen again this week given how infrequently they happen around the league, but the Redskins have a history of major special teams mistakes so you can’t rule them out. Washington can’t afford to even make minor mistakes this week, whether that means not allowing big returns or giving free penalty yardage on special teams. The Redskins have to find a way for the Special Teams to stop being a negative for this team’s chances of winning games each week. While it would be great to turn it into a positive, having a neutral special teams unit would be a huge step for the Redskins.

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