Redskins at Saints: Leaving The Past

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Nov 15, 2015; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins running back Chris Thompson (25) carries the ball as New Orleans Saints middle linebacker Stephone Anthony (50) chases in the second quarter at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Well Redskins fans, week 10 didn’t go the way we planned or wanted. That’s the beauty of the NFL – win or lose, there’s always an opportunity to improve your performance in the next game. The Redskins are still not at full strength but they’re ready to right the ship from last week’s poor showing. Even the coaches are promising to put forth a better effort in play calling and positioning of players. We’ll see how that goes. The past is the past and a promise is nothing but words if not brought to fruition. Let’s hope we’re not being sold a dream. I’m looking forward to seeing how the Redskins defense bounces back from a terrible showing last week versus the Vikings.

This week 11 matchup has our Washington Redskins battling the New Orleans Saints, another organization that has in the past experienced the same lows as the Redskins. Let’s not discuss 2015 when Rob Ryan was the defensive coordinator for the Saints, and Kirk Cousins led the Redskins to win the game convincingly by a score of 47-14, which lost Rob Ryan his job. This isn’t the 2015 version of the Saints. This Saints team comes in boasting a 7-2 record and the NFL’s number three scoring offense, averaging 25 points or better per contest. The positive turnaround isn’t solely because of veteran QB Drew Brees. The Saints are successful because of the rookie combinations on both sides of the ball. Rookie RB Alvin Kamara has proven to be a valuable asset in the run and passing games, catching the screen pass and gaining positive yardage after the catch, the most by any RB in the NFL during their rookie season. The Redskins will be tasked with slowing down this high powered Saints offense – a task I’m confident they can achieve. The Saints offensive line has only allowed 8 sacks on Brees, which is the lowest in the league. It will be a tough task, but these challenges make a team stronger. Mark Ingram and Kamara together have a combined 582 yards after the catch and after contact, which means the Redskins defense must make sure tackles. Arm tackling will not get it done, particularly this week against the Saints. This Saints offense is rolling and catching its stride at the best time of the season, when everyone begins their playoff push.

The Redskins offense will also have its hands full, playing against the NFL’s number 8 overall defense. The Saints defense has a total of 25 sacks. They know how to get to the opposing QB’s this season. DE Cameron Jordan leads the defense with 7 sacks. Jordan is also nursing an ankle injury that has hampered his performance the past 2 weeks. This gives an advantage to the Redskins. They’ll have to find ways to keep the other Saints defensive players away from QB Kirk Cousins. The Saints also have rookies on the defensive side of the ball drawing all types of attention. CB Marshon Lattimore and S Kenny Vaccaro have excellent ball-hawking capabilities. Cousins should be able to take advantage of their inexperience by looking them off or pump faking before he actually throws the ball. The few injuries the Saints have are substantial and in key positions, which should work in the Redskins’ favor. Coach Jay Gruden will need to completely throw caution out the window and attack this Saints defense. The Redskins can’t afford to allow this season to slip away from them. A loss this week would leave the Redskins at 4-6, a terrible uphill battle facing the end of the season. Running the ball with confidence is what the Redskins will have to demonstrate in this week 11 battle.

The past is the past. The Redskins can’t watch old film and allow themselves to become wrongfully over confident. This is a new Saints team being led by a Hall of Fame caliber QB, mixed with dynamic rookies and veterans making plays all over the field. The Saints reportedly have a 75% chance of winning this game Sunday. Fortunately, football is played on the field and not on paper. Any given Sunday any team that applies themselves has the chance to come out victorious. This Redskins team has not really found its stride yet and has been inconsistent. The Redskins need to put in outstanding performances, from the offense and defense, this week going forward. Gruden has to place confidence in his players on the offensive side of the ball and defensive coordinator Greg Manusky has to find a way to bring the aggression back that the defense played with at the start of the season.

Kell’s Keys to Victory:

Ball security on the offensive side is important. I can’t stress how much the Redskins need to keep the Saints offense off the field, especially in short yardage situations. The Saints have 31 touchdowns so far this 2017 season, scoring from all over the field – big plays, quick hitters and such.

The Redskins defensive unit has the tall task of containing the NFL’s number 3 offense. The best part about it is Brees isn’t the mobile QB he once was. This should work in favor of the Redskins defense. The Redskins secondary will be tested as well. They can’t overplay the screen pass. That’s when Brees will hit his downfield targets, disciplined coverage man-to-man or within the zone.

Special teams is another area that the Redskins will have to pay very close attention to. The Saints have an excellent return game on punts and kickoffs. Staying in their lanes will be important, especially on kickoffs.

If the Redskins can turn the Saints into field goal kickers instead of touchdown scorers, that will go a long way in the effort to win. HAIL to the Redskins! HTTR4LIFE!

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