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Redskins Keys to the Game vs. the Rams

John Manuel

By Staff Writer John Manuel:

Here are my 5 Keys to the Game for the Washington Redskins to get a win in St. Louis against the Rams:

1) Jump on them early just like the Saints game:

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Easy analysis is any time you’re going against the young team in their home opener with a new coach you don’t want to give them early momentum.  The crowd should be into the game early so need to take them out of it.  Then again, Robert Griffin III wasn’t fazed one bit by the loud Superdome crowd so this actually could be a non-factor.

The effort the Rams gave last week at Detroit had to give the fans in St. Louis hope that Jeff Fisher can turn the team around.  Unlike last week, Shanahan faces a true NFL coach in his close friend Fisher.  One of last week’s advantages won’t be the same, although Fisher is still working with a new roster that is at least a year away.

2) Defense control the run game:

Last week the Skins needed to run the ball and control the clock to keep Drew Brees off the field to pull the upset.  This week the same bodes for the Rams.  St. Louis will have to look at Steven Jackson to grind out a Steven Jackson-like game if they want to win.  So the Redskins defense will have to stop Jackson and the running game.  The New Orleans Saints ran for 32 yards Sunday as they abandoned the run game to play catch-up.  Then again, 80% of their offense was Brees floating balls up to Jimmy Graham.  It would be big for the Skins to get St. Louis into a pass heavy offense early as well since they don’t have Drew Brees, Jimmy Graham or a receiver most could name.

3) The front 3:

Week one’s defense was led by the strong play of the defensive line.  The front three rotation will need to get the continued push they got all day in New Orleans.  I felt this was a major strength coming into the season and it didn’t disappoint by getting in the face of Brees and allowing Kerrigan, Orakpo, Wilson and others to have easier paths to whoever had the ball.  The St. Louis offensive line should be an easier assignment than the Saints were.  Roger Saffold is very questionable after a scary injury Sunday and holes have been caused by most likely bust Jason Smith now in New York.  Jim Haslett has to be licking his chops with this matchup which could give his back eight an easier day.

4) Allow the playmakers to be playmakers:

Even if Pierre Garcon can’t go Sunday the Skins should have plenty of those playmakers.  Griffin needs to continue last Sunday’s ability to hit Garcon and Aldrick Robinson on the run and pick up large chunks of yards after catch.  Even if Garcon can’t go, Santana Moss, Brandon Banks and even the athletic tight end Niles Paul need to step in and bust out big plays on the fast turf.  I can see the Redskins being able to do what the Eagles have been able to accomplish with Maclin and Jackson the past few seasons when things are going well.  RG3’s ability to extend plays will be a major component to the Redskins big play capability this season and no better place to show it against the undermanned Rams on Sunday.

5) Solid Kicking Game:

Continued solid kicking game with Billy Cundiff and Sav Rocca.  I am going to toss out the blocked punt for now and base it on Rocca’s short successful Redskin’s career.  As for Cundiff, this is why I know he was the right choice.  For the past 8 months I have heard Vinny Cerrato on Baltimore radio talk about how the Ravens should cut Cundiff right after the playoff miss.  Tucker kicked well enough to win the Ravens job but Cerrato is a clown who has made embarrassing football personnel judgments for years, hence the radio gig.  I knew Cundiff was gold once Cerrato wanted him gone.  Cundiff will be kicking in the Pro Bowl unless David Akers keeps dropping 60+ bombs.  As for this week, he keeps drilling field goals including on kickoffs.  He crushed that one off the upright last week.

I am slightly nervous about this being the Rams home opener with Jeff Fisher, but the Lions score last weekend was deceiving.  The Lions crushed them in total yards and were the victims of three Stafford picks.  The offensive play calling and the play of Griffin last week protected the ball nicely and should keep that up.  Going to go with 27-10 and Redskins to go 2-0.


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