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Redskins vs Steelers: Keys to the game

Steve Shoup

1: Trust your passing attack and don’t get cute trying to force the run-

-This isn’t difficult from an offensive game plan perspective for the Redskins. The Redskins have a top notch passing attack, with a quality QB, offensive line and one of the leagues deepest WR/TE units. At the same time their running game is completely suspect with their top back banged up. On the other side the Steelers have a highly inexperienced/ineffective secondary and one of the leagues better run defenses. There is no reason that the Redskins should attempt to be a balanced offense in this game, particularly early on. They need to pass to set up the run, and outside of a few plays to keep the Steelers honest they need to rely mainly on their passing game. Kirk Cousins could be in line for a big day with this match-up and they need to ride him. The passing attack has another advantage as it could help limit the Steelers top notch rushing attack (see below).

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2: Limit the damage on the ground from the Steelers rushing offense-

-Just because the Steelers are without All-Pro back Le’Veon Bell, that doesn’t mean the Redskins run defense will get off easy in this match-up. DeAngelo Williams was one of the better backs in the league last year and he will benefit with the return of All-Pro center Maurkice Pouncey. The Redskins are really suspect up front making this a bad match-up for them, and not one that they have much chance of winning. If the Steelers are allowed to get up early or control the tempo of this game Washington is in deep trouble. They are not likely to stop the Steelers rushing attack, but the best they can hope for is to contain it enough so that it doesn’t keep Pittsburgh alive in this game. Hopefully the Redskins can get out to an early lead and force the Steelers to limit their carries, but they can’t rely solely on that.

3: Limit the blitzing of Ben Roethlisberger

-Typically blitzing an opposing QB could be a good idea for the Redskins, particularly when they are at home and their offense should be able to move the football. Well timed blitzing can lead to some big swing plays by the defense, but Roethlisberger is one of the best QBs under pressure and when facing the blitz. Too often he will make you pay for bringing the extra rusher or two and attack the area where they vacate. This is the type of game where the Redskins win if they can trade touchdowns for field goals, so the last thing they need is too let Roethlisberger get some “free” big plays that turn into scores.

4: Keep the Antonio Brown big plays to a minimum-

-The Redskins need a bend but don’t break approach in this game as a whole defensively, but that is definitely true when it comes to Antonio Brown. It would be great if Antonio Brown were shutdown by Josh Norman and Bashaud Breeland, but chances are that isn’t going to happen. Over the last two seasons Antonio Brown has 24 games out of 32 where he had at least 75 receiving yards (and 17 of those were over 100). Stopping Brown from having a decent game is really difficult, and that doesn’t need to be the Redskins focus. If Brown has a 7 catches for 80 yards and a TD that is survivable for the Redskins, what can’t happen is Brown having 11 catches for 150 yards and 2 TDs. If Brown is doing that much damage then the Steelers are probably doing pretty well and the Redskins could be in trouble.

5: Limit the penalties that plagued the Redskins in preseason-

-One constant throughout the preseason was the high number of penalties the Redskins were committing in every phase of the game. While some of it can be blamed on inexperienced guys who didn’t make the team, starters and top back-ups were guilty of plenty of infractions as well. In what should be a tough close game tonight the Redskins can’t afford to give the Steelers free yards too often and expect to come away with the victory. Now of course you can’t eliminate every single penalty, but you can minimize them and that could be enough to swing the game.

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