Redskins fans, we have to shake off the pain and pure embarrassment of the lackluster performance displayed by our beloved Washington Redskins against the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday Night Football. This will not only be the 2nd week in a row that this team limps into a game, but it’s also another NFC East division game, opposing the hated Dallas Cowboys. I don’t need to explain to all the true Redskins diehards the significance of this game. There’s more at stake this week. Too many of us Redskins fans have to deal with obnoxious, loud and sometimes rude Cowboy fans. I know bragging rights are a small sidebar, but to be able to boast after the Redskins defeat the Cowboys is always a good thing – even a great thing.
Now let’s go into detail and discuss all that’s weighing in the balance with this pivotal week 8 matchup. If the Redskins should find themselves on the losing end of this famed rivalry on Sunday, the climb back to playoff contention will be all the more difficult. The Washington Redskins are currently seated at third in the NFC East with two losses inside the division, both at the hands of the Eagles. If we plan to fight for a wild card spot in the 2017 NFL playoffs, it starts Sunday against Dallas. Falling behind three games in the NFC East would be catastrophic to the Redskins 2017 campaign. The Redskins haven’t shown the ability to overcome an obstacle of this magnitude as of yet, although anything is possible. The Redskins shouldn’t wait and watch what other teams are doing at the end of the regular season to push for the playoffs. This Redskins team has everything in front of them for the taking. They have to go into this game with an attitude like there’s no tomorrow. Their focus needs to be laser sharp. We’ve watched too many Redskins players fail to take advantage of opportunities to make key plays. Such a lack of focus won’t put the Redskins in a position to win.
Head Coach Jay Gruden has to recognize or be more aware of each situation as it arises. For a minute it looked as if he had things under control in the Eagles game. He was calling timeouts at crucial junctures and sending the right play to catch the opposing defense off guard. Gruden didn’t fully utilize RB Chris Thompson as he did earlier this season. Thompson has been a human highlight film all season and limiting him to 8-10 touches a game isn’t the formula for success on offense. Gruden needs to get play makers involved. This will put the odds in the Redskins favor, more times than not. The Redskins offense has become predictable in every aspect of offensive play calling. I can remember players in seasons past saying at times it seemed as if the defense read the Redskins game plan. I’m hoping WR Brian Quick is given the opportunity to start against the Cowboys this Sunday. He’s big and physical and plays with a chip on his shoulder. This style of aggression is what’s missing from this 2017 Redskins receiving corps. I just can’t watch another Redskins receiver run out of bounds 1 yard short of the line to gain. This is what’s meant by the commentators when they ask who’s going to replace Pierre Garcon. We could always count on Garcon to fight for every yard on every catch. Now the ball is thrown and we hope the receiver just makes the completion. During several interviews this week, when asked about the success found early in the past few games, QB Kirk Cousins explained how the Redskins walk through their first offensive series before every game. Where are the adjustments once your scheme has been figured out? Where is the ability of the QB to recognize the blitz and what side it’s coming from? This is week 8 (Dallas week!). These are the questions we’re still working out on the offensive side of the ball.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Redskins have played good enough to win, but still it’s not enough. During the second half of these games, they fall off and lose any momentum they built in the first half, allowing 200+ yards in the 3rd and 4th quarters. Dominant defenses don’t allow this. Once they stop a team, they hold their foot on that team’s neck, taking any confidence away that the other team’s offense may think they have. On the run, pass or play action plays, good defenses are prepared because they plan for the expected as well as the unexpected. I really can’t bad talk this Redskins defensive unit, because even with all the injuries to big name players, they’ve still found ways to keep us in games. A point of concern would be the missed tackles, but they don’t happen as often as in years past. This 2017 Redskins defensive unit has played with a ‘no tomorrow’ attitude since the first game of the regular season. This week against the Cowboys, the defense will be tasked with stopping another young up-and-coming QB in Dak Prescott, along with a dynamic RB in Ezekiel Elliot. What gives me confidence is that the Redskins defense has controlled every RB they’ve faced thus far this season.
Kell’s Keys to Victory:
On offense, the Redskins have to involve their play makers, both running and in the passing game. They can’t be predictable. They have to mix it up a little, surprise and catch the Cowboys off guard. The Redskins WR’s have to fight for every yard after they’ve completed the catch. Erase the old mistakes and replace them with new, successful opportunities. Gruden has to go back to his ‘run first’ mentality. Two yards is more than just 2 yards – it keeps the defense guessing, which gives our offense the upper hand. So run the dang ball!
On the defensive end, the Redskins have to display more energy in the second half of the game. Several times this season, we’ve seen a completely different team from the first half to the second half. Consistency will be the key. Steady and confident forward movement is needed. The Redskins must stop anything in their defensive zone, run or pass. They need to put constant pressure on QB Prescott and never allow him to get comfortable in or out of the pocket. This will be a huge contest for the defense because Dallas has Ezekiel Elliot, Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, Cole Beasley and the QB himself Dak Prescott as weapons. Good thing is, when used properly, the Redskins stand armed with at least as many weapons.
Gruden has to focus on what plays to challenge or not challenge and when to give his unit on the field a breather by calling timeouts. Since the Redskins are plagued with injuries, Gruden must show total confidence in the abilities of his second-string players who are filling in for all the veteran players who are currently hurt.
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