Redskins vs. Vikings: Defensive Enforcement

Nov 13, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; Minnesota Vikings offensive players line up against Washington Redskins defensive players in the first quarter at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Redskins fans, week 10 of this 2017 NFL campaign brings the Minnesota Vikings and their top-ranked defensive unit into FedEx field. The Redskins are riding on a victorious high, after defying all odds and stealing a win over the Seahawks in Seattle.  This week’s matchup will be a defensive struggle for both offenses. Minnesota comes to FedEx Field leading the NFC North with a 6-2 record, which is a part of a 4-game winning streak.

The defensive unit of the Vikings is what really makes this team go. The Vikings come in allowing only 17 points to opposing teams per contest thus far. They hold starting QB’s to 200 or less yards per game and only give up 60 yards rushing per game. No doubt the Redskins offense will have its woes against the Vikings defense. No opponent has reached the 350 total yard mark against the Vikings defense this season. A huge part of this Vikings defense success is run stuffer Linval Joseph up the middle and Harrison Smith patrolling the back end along with CB Xavier Rhodes. Harrison Smith is where the real danger lies at the CB position, leading this defense with three interceptions. This is the first time that the Vikings have held the number three defensive ranking this late in the season.

Let’s not hang our heads Redskins fans. This is the exact situation the Vikings found themselves in last season, playing great football and looking postseason ready, and then flopped the second half of the season. So there is a chance the Redskins can out-play this defense. The Vikings have managed 24 sacks of opposing QB’s, which means the players of this put together O-line for the Redskins will have their hands full. Confidence was gained from the Seattle win. These guys have shown being coached up quickly isn’t a problem. Also, the Redskins starting right guard Brandon Scherff will return and give a little more stability to the Redskins O-line.

The Vikings offensive side of the ball has been their problem this year, despite the season WR Stefon Diggs (a product of Maryland University) is having. Injuries to the QB position has really stumbled this Vikings team. Sam Bradford was the starter but suffered a season-ending injury. Backup QB Case Keenum has stepped his play up, leading the offense on this 4-game winning streak. Minnesota will be coming off their bye week, so they should be well rested and eager for live action against the Redskins. Keenum has had the interception blues this season, leaning on his defense to clean up his mistakes time and time again.

This Redskins defense has a tall task with stopping the Vikings top 10 ranked rushing attack led by RB Latavius Murray, rookie sensation Dalvin Cook and Jerick McKinnon. If the Redskins defense can find ways to stop the run, Keenum will throw an interception or two. Keenum doesn’t handle pressure very well at all. More times than not, he’ll place the ball in a bad or even terrible spot, giving the Redskins defense an advantage.

The Redskins offense showed that they understand what this coaching staff wants from them on each play. Blocking schemes change from play call to play call. Knowing where you’re supposed to be and what is expected of you makes all the difference to a player. The number of injuries that the Redskins have suffered on the O-line is the worst I’ve ever seen, yet this team and coaching staff have found ways to overcome and succeed. The rushing game still has a way to go, but they’re making progress with every opportunity. Gruden has to remain disciplined and keep the rush attempts to around 20 to 25 per game. The passing game looks leaps and bounds better. Vernon Davis, Brian Quick, Jamison Crowder and Jordan Reed (when healthy) have all proven to be reliable targets for QB Kirk Cousins. This must continue in order for the Redskins to succeed and be victorious each week. The run game will allow the Redskins to control the clock and rest their defense as well. It will also open up the play action scheme for big gains at any given moment.

Kell’s Keys to Victory:

The Redskins have to control the line of scrimmage both on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. They must keep the Vikings guessing at all times while utilizing the advantages RB Chris Thompson provides the offense with his speed and elusiveness. The Redskins defense must take full advantage of every turnover opportunity and provide short fields for the offense to work from.  They have to pressure Vikings QB Case Keenum into making mistakes with the football. The Redskins tackling needs to be active and aggressive and they should pursue the football. Penalties need to be limited so any momentum gained isn’t killed. The Redskins must impose their will on both sides of the ball. Weather may be a factor on the windy side. Finding success in the run game is a must for this matchup. Redskins special teams need to make stand out plays to create momentum. The Redskins 12th man should be extra loud, making FedEx Field a hostile environment for this visiting Vikings team. Enjoy the week 10 competition Redskins fans!

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