It is Redskins Game Day! The Washington Redskins face division rival Philadelphia Eagles in a critical game for the Redskins, Let’s face it, all game here on are absolutely critical. With the Redskins loss to Arizona last week, they effectively lost control of the final wild card spot to Tampa Bay. Tampa Bay also face a division rival today, the New Orleans Saints. We are Redskins and Saints fans today!
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On Redskins Game Day, What We Do Know
We kind of knew all season, but down the critical stretch of games we are in, the Washington Redskins can’t rely on their defense to win games. That is clear and became even more clear in the loss last week to the Cardinals. The Redskins defense is a problem, a very big problem. It should be a premier offseason focus of GM Scot McCloughan. The Redskins are not getting any consistent pass rush and the secondary is weak. The Redskins clearly have to reply on their high-powered offense to win football games. That story is no different today.
Again, It’s Pass Rush
We can probably put this as a permanent placement in this post as a key to a Redskins win. The Eagles have lost three consecutive games by double-digit margins. That bodes well for Washington considering the offense is second ranked in the NFL, behind the New Orleans Saints. However, the key for Washington is to score more than they allow. The defense allows points. Washington allows 25.2 points per game. It all starts up front. Washington has to get pressure on Eagles’ rookie quarterback Carson Wentz. Wentz has thrown 11 interceptions, has fumbled 9 times, and has been sacked 26 times. In their first outing, in which the Redskins defeated the eagles 27-20, Washington sacked Wentz five times. They need that kind of performance again today. The Redskins secondary simply is not good enough to hold off a passing game without pressure on the quarterback. The Redskins are tied for seventh in the NFL with 30 sacks. That is not what we are talking about. What the Redskins need is not just sacks, but consistent pressure. They can force Wentz into mistakes, but they need consistent pressure. Ryan Kerrigan has been Washington’s most effective pass rusher, recording his tenth sack of the season last week. He became just the fifth player in Redskins history to accumulate ten or more sacks in multiple seasons. They need more. Trent Murphy has proven he can get to the quarterback. So has Chris Baker. What the Redskins are missing is consistency from Preston Smith. Smith had a monster game against the Minnesota Vikings, recording two critical sacks and a pick. However, he has also disappeared all too often. They need consistency and they need that today.
Run. The. Ball.
The Redskins are not known for offensive balance. The Redskins throw the football 62.36% of the time. Redskins offensive coordinator Sean McVay loves to throw the ball. He should. They have had tremendous success with QB Kirk Cousins and the Redskins dominant receiving corp. However, to keep the pressure off the defense, the Redskins need to win the time of possession battle. That means they need to run the football more and keep the defense on the bench. That starts with rookie Robert Kelley. Kelley has had a strong season and has seized the starting running back role. He has done very well. However, the offensive game plan simply does not rely on the run game as much as it should. The past two weeks Kelley has received only 14 carries. That is awful. That is also a component to why they have a two game losing streak. Kelley is averaging 4.7 yards per carry. He eats up clock. He runs tough through holes and has the power and ability to gain yards after initial contact. That extends drives, controls the clock, and keeps pressure off Kirk Cousins and the defense. McVay simply needs to show some love to Kelley today and hand him the football 20 to 25 times. McCoy also needs to give the football to third down back Chris Thompson. Thompson has proven speed on the outside and is a very valuable change-up to Kelley. Run. The. Ball.
The Return of Jordan Reed
Tight end Jordan Reed is expected to return to action today with a painful shoulder. He is a critical target for Cousins, he is a touchdown threat, and he is one of the, if not the, best tight ends in the game. He is banged up for sure. However, Reed is a baller. Still a game time decision, if plays the Redskins will use him. The problem I see is that reports out of practice were that Reed participated, but appeared in discomfort at times. I hope that Reed and the Redskins are not rushing back to the field. He is a critical cog to the offense, but the Redskins do have solid alternatives with Vernon Davis and Derek Carrier.
The Return of Trent Williams
Let’s not underestimate this fact as well. Ty Nsekhe did an excellent job covering for Williams, as her served a four game suspension. However, Williams return could not come at a better moment for the Redskins. Nsekhe has been hobbled the past two weeks and actually came out for some plays last week. Williams returns fully healthy. That could also be a big benefit for Kelley and the run game. Williams is a locker room leader. His return is more beneficial than just on the football field.
Redskins Inactive Players
Here are your Washington Redskins inactive players for today.
QB Nate Sudfield
WR Rashad Ross
RB Matt Jones
S Will Blackmon
C Spencer Long
DE Anthony Lanier
G Shawn Lauvao
Of note here are injuries. The Redskins one of the more consistent safeties in Will Blackmon. Also, with he injury to RG Shawn Lauvoa, the Redskins turn to youngster Arie Kouandjio. Kouandjio will team up with Williams on the left side of the Line. The Redskins will also be missing C Spencer Long. Long locked down the Center position and will likely fill that role for years to come. However, he suffered a concussion last week. The Redskins will plug in veteran John Sullivan. No doubt, the Redskins are banged up on the offensive line.