Here are my 5 key’s to the game for the Redskins to secure their first win this year:
-Look the Lions offense is going to get some yards, but what the Redskins can’t have happen is them to get so many yards after contact. The Redskins can’t afford for 4-5 yard runs turn into 20 yard gains, and 7-10 yard catches to be 30+. The Redskins might not have the most talented defensive roster and they might not be built to tackle, but that is really no excuse. They are all professional football players, and it is time they start acting like it. This is a collective effort, but the biggest problems have been in the secondary so far, which is problematic since they are supposed to be the last line of defense.
-In both week 1 and 2 the Redskins got away from the run far too early. Even when the deficit was just two scores the Redskins were trying to pass their way back into the game. With a quarterback dealing with a good bit of rust, and defenses keying in on making him uncomfortable this seems like a losing strategy. The Redskins are built to run the football, and should stop trying to get away from what they do best. Establishing a successful rushing attack will also go a long way to helping the passing game, as it really sets up the play action passing game that was so successful for the Redskins last year.
Mike Shanahan has won just about 27% of his games in DC when his quarterback has thrown the ball 30 times or more including just a 1-5 mark for Robert Griffin III. To ask Griffin to win this game on his arm would be a mistake and is one of the surest ways to see the Redskins go to 0-3.
-Look some penalties are going to occur each game, but what the Redskins have done the past two weeks (and all of last year) is just unacceptable. They’s committed far too many overall penalties including four personnel foul penalties so far. All four of those were easily preventable and would have saved the Redskins 60 yards. Many of the other penalties have also been just stupid sloppy mistakes, that need to be corrected. Last year the Redskins offense was good enough to overcome penalties and still be a top 5 unit, this year that clearly isn’t the case. Last year the defense wasn’t great, but they would force teams to settle for field goals and create turnovers, this year they are letting teams score at will, so giving opponents free first downs is unacceptable. The Redskins have to play more disciplined, and for those players still making stupid mistakes the Redskins should look to bench them to send a message.
-The Lions have a pair of brand new starting tackles this year and the Redskins need to take advantage of that with their impressive edge rushers. Unlike the first two weeks quarterback Matt Stafford is not a guy who has the mobility to buy extra time or get away from rushers. If the Redskins can consistently break the pocket and put pressure on Stafford, it should lead to a number of sacks, incomplete passes and hopefully a few turnovers. Given how the secondary has struggled so far this season, it is crucial that Stafford is uncomfortable on just about every throw. If he has time in the pocket he will tear up the Redskins defense and it will give him plenty of time to hit his star WR Calvin Johnson for a couple huge gains. The Lions could go to a quicker passing attack to combat the pass rush, in which case the Redskins need to adjust this week and jam receivers at the line and use some zone blitzing so there are surprise defenders in passing lanes.
-Now this could be tough as it is likely that the Redskins will be without starting kicker Kai Forbath for this game, but the Redskins need their special teams to step up. They’ve had too many penalties so far on special teams, which is unacceptable given how few plays there are comparatively. The return game has been a non-factor (in part due to penalties), and that is something that needs to change as the Redskins desperately could use some big plays. The punting of Sav Rocca has been very poor so far, with a couple bad ones each game. That has given two high powered offenses short fields to work with, and to do so again this week is asking for trouble. The kicking game is an issue as the Redskins will either go with an injured Kai Forbath or an unproved John Potter. While neither option seems good, the Redskins can’t make any excuses they need someone to perform. If Potter can’t get the job done (and it didn’t look pretty last week) then the Redskins should have gone out there and gotten a free agent kicker who could have. To sit idly by is not an excuse and in fact it is down right negligent. If the Redskins kicking game is ineffective once again they only have themselves to blame.