-The Washington Redskins have done a nice job running effectively against strong rushing defenses this year, but could face a tougher challenge this week. Not only are the Steelers ranked 9th in rushing yards allowed, but they have a long history of being stingy against the run. Honestly though the Steelers defense is only stingy because they limit teams rushing attempts (5th least). From a yards per carry basis Pittsburgh ranks 19th in the league allowing 4.1 yards per carry. The Washington Redskins need to run early and often against the Steelers eating up yards and the clock. The key will be to have early success, so the game will be close enough throughout so the Redskins won’t feel the need to abandon the run. Though Pittsburgh can be susceptible against the run, the Redskins can’t get complacent. Last week against New York, after a great first half Alfred Morris was shut down in the 2nd half. That is something the Redskins can’t afford to repeat itself on Sunday.
Robert Griffin III may be a very efficient and accurate passer, but this is not the game you want to be relying on his arm. Even without safety Troy Polumalu the Steelers pass coverage has been really good this year. They are 2nd in the league in fewest yards allowed through the air, and 7th overall in net yards per attempt. They have yet to allow a 300 yard game this season and in three games they have kept the opponent to under 200 yards passing (they have yet to give up more than 265 in a game). The Redskins need to use their passing attack to supplement their ground game in this contest. Griffin needs to stick with the quick passing attack that has worked so well for him this season.
That is easier said than done, because Roethlisberger is great at buying time in the pocket and completing passes while under duress, but it is still the Washington Redskins only shot at slowing down this Steelers passing attack. The Redskins secondary and linebackers don’t stand a chance of covering Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown and Heath Miller, so the pass rush has to force as many off target (and hopefully some interceptions) throws and check downs as possible. The good news is the Steelers line is banged up, the bad news is the Redskins pass rush has been non-existent basically since Brian Orakpo got injured. The Redskins need to do whatever they can to find ways to bring pressure. Whether they have bring 5 or 6 defenders on every snap is not an issue. The Redskins could have 11 guys in coverage and it wouldn’t help their pass defense. Whatever it takes to get to Roethlisberger and force some negative plays the Redskins have to do it.
So far this season the Steelers haven’t been generating a lot of pressure on the quarterback, but that doesn’t mean the Washington Redskins can ignore this as a possibility. The Steelers pass rush has been limited somewhat due to injury, but for the first time all season James Harrison, Lamarr Woodley and Lawrence Timmons are all missing from the Steelers injury report. The Redskins need to have a game plan in place for when these guys will be blitzing, and how to keep Robert Griffin away from them as much as possible. This is a big reason why the Redskins should maintain their quick passing game to try to neutralize this as much as possible. The Redskins should also look to keep a back in to block, as Pittsburgh will try to mix-up where they are coming from.
The Washington Redskins need to play smart and efficient football. They need to win the turnover battle, the field position battle and the time of possession battle. Yes sometimes a team can lose those battles and still win the game, but it’s not easy. And the more of those battles you lose (or tie) the harder it is. The Redskins are already on the road so they don’t need any additional problems. They need to control the clock with their running game. Protect the football after a poor week against the Giants where they turned it over four times. Finally they need their special teams to come up big; both with downing the ball deep in Pittsburgh territory and getting positive returns. These things may all sound simple, but it won’t be easy to win all three. .