Five Questions the Redskins Need to Answer This Bye Week

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1.How can they protect RGIII better?

-It’s no secret that Robert Griffin III doesn’t have the best feel in the pocket and he holds on to the ball too long. It is a common trait with both young and mobile QB’s, so with Griffin in both categories it’s bound to be an issue. In just 9 quarters of play this season Griffin has been sacked 9 times, including 5 this past week versus the Vikings. In addition to the sacks Griffin is getting hit and pressured at a high rate as well. The Redskins need to have an elite line protecting Griffin in the future, but for now they will need to settle for just improved production. Some of it could be fixed with maybe some replacements among the starters (Chris Chester, Shawn Lauvao and Roy Helu Jr. are the biggest culprits), but the Redskins need to do more than that. Given Griffin’s natural tendency to hold on to the ball the Redskins should scheme around it. Force more short quick throws to get the ball out of Griffin’s hands before the pass rush can make enough of an impact. This is something the Redskins did somewhat effectively Griffin’s rookie year, and was a big part of the reason why Griffin was able to have some success that year.

2. How can they get Pierre Garcon going?

DeSean Jackson has been a major weapon this season, but unfortunately last year’s NFL catch leader Pierre Garcon has all but disappeared. Garcon has just 4 games with 6 or more targets this season and just three of those games has he caught at least 5 balls. A year ago Garcon had just 4 games under 10 targets and none of those games were fewer than 7. Garcon lowest catch total a season ago was 5 and that only happened twice. For some reason they can’t get Garcon going and it’s really hurting the Redskins ability to sustain drives. DeSean Jackson has proven himself to be an incredible deep threat, but they need that chain moving receiver opposite him. That is a role Garcon is well suited for, but for some reason it is just not clicking this year. Part of it is probably on the fact that he’s played with three different starting QB’s, but there is more to it than that. Whatever the issue is that is limiting Garcon’s production the Redskins need to fix it ASAP.

3. Can the pass rush be consistent?

-The Redskins pass rush has dominated at times this season and disappeared at other times. While some of that is going to happen over the course of a year, the Redskins need to get a more consistent pass rush if they want to improve their defense. Two weeks ago the Redskins saw just how much of an impact a quality pass rush can have when they went into Dallas on Monday night and upset the 6-1 Cowboys. The Redskins aggressive blitz campaign saw a rushed Tony Romo take some big sacks and rush some key throws. It directly led to the Redskins win and was the 2nd best defensive performance of the season. Last week again on the road the Redskins got two early sacks on rookie QB Teddy Bridgewater, but after that they weren’t able to do much from a pass rush perspective. As a result Teddy Bridgewater picked apart the Redskins secondary in the 2nd half and led to the Redskins 6th loss of the season.

Ideally the Redskins could succeed and have a consistent pass rush with just 4 guys rushing the QB, but that hasn’t been the case this year. The Redskins are going to have to blitz more in the final 7 games and they will also have to be better with their rushes. Last week versus the Vikings the Redskins didn’t blitz as much as they did the week before versus the Cowboys, but they were also more ineffective when they did. On a number of occasions Teddy Bridgewater was able to step up in the pocket, buy some time and deliver a good throw. That can’t happen going forward as the Redskins need to at least be forcing some rushed throws if they can’t get home for the sack.

4. How can they fix their secondary/coverage woes?

-The Redskins continue to have breakdowns in the coverage with the main culprits being in their secondary. The troubling thing is there just isn’t one weakness causing problems in their coverage, but everyone is pretty much to blame. There are issues with the linebackers, corners and safeties. The main culprits are corners David Amerson and E.J. Biggers, safeties Ryan Clark and Brandon Meriweather and linebacker Perry Riley. While other players have had some struggles these five have been the ones with the biggest and most consistent breakdowns.

Another problem facing the Redskins is that it doesn’t seem to matter what coverage they try to run, offenses have found a way to crack it. This speaks to a lack of talent and ineffective coaching. There are breakdowns in every system and coaching staff has failed to correct any of them to produce at least average coverage.

There is no easy way to fix this for the Redskins, but the hope is that they can find a scheme that will work for them enough to have at least average coverage. Probably the best thing they can hope to do from a coverage aspect is not put themselves in a position where they need to rely on coverage. The Redskins best two games in terms of coverage have been the games where their pressure has dominated and the opposing QB didn’t have time to wait for the inevitable coverage breakdown.

5. Can the Redskins play at a high level for a full game?

-The Redskins have been inconsistent throughout the season and it is a big reason why they are sitting at 3-6. With the exception of the Jaguars game (and arguably the Cowboys game) they haven’t played a good full game. This past week versus the Vikings the Redskins controlled the first 28 minutes of the game and looked like they were going to notch their 4th win. Unfortunately the Redskins made a turnover at the end of the half and the defense started to fall apart. It’s not the first time this season the Redskins had a good chance in a game, but couldn’t finish the other team off. The Redskins have to stop having these breakdowns if they are going to become a contender. That’s not going to happen this year, but the Redskins need to start playing full games in the hopes that they can get on the right track for next season.

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