Updated: May 11
Welcome back to The Burgundy and Gold Report. Redskins’ fans were clearly upset with the performance versus Atlanta last Sunday, which resulted in a 38-14 drubbing. The truth is, even the highly vaunted Washington defense was outplayed. Additionally, the coaches were outmatched. The Redskins sit atop in the the NFC East with 5-3 record with eight games to go. Dallas also lost to Tennessee, which has essentially cleared the path for a two team race for the NFC East crown, with the Philadelphia, Eagles standing in Washington’s way.
It’s easy to get caught up blaming coaching and bad play calling as the core problem of the team. The fact remains, the players play the game. On Sunday, as well as during the other two Redskins losses, the issues were glaringly clear; mental mistakes are plaguing this team. In previous victories, the Redskins’ defense caused timely turnovers only to watch their offense crawl into a shell and play conservative ball. The lack of a deep threat and having a quarterback with limitations needs to become a realization to coaches. Although Alex Smith has the freedom to audible in and out of plays, more often than not he’ll opt for the run play. So it’s simple, if the Redskins run game is stagnant, so is Smith.
The film from the Atlanta loss, as well as film from the previous losses showed Redskins receivers breaking off routes early and looking down field instead of securing the catch. Anytime the Redskins’ offense started to build momentum, these mental mistakes have led to drive killers. The penalties also led to Washington giving up valuable ground when they actually made it to the Falcons side of the field.
Although Alex Smith did use his legs and had a long scramble, he needs to accept the current state of the offensive line. Given the injuries, Smith’s best option is to make plays out of the pocket. Furthermore the Redskins’ QB needs to get the ball out earlier than ever this week with Washington facing a strong Buccaneers pass rush.
The defense was guilty of mental mistakes, most notably missed tackles. Not only did quarterback Matt Ryan throw for 350 yards, the defense had its worst effort against the run to date, giving up 146 total yards on the ground. Atlanta is a well coached team and found weaknesses in the Skins’ defense. The question will now be how the Redskins’ coaches and players respond and avoid another let down
Time to Get Creative
Some fans and analysts have brought up the topic of the Redskins getting more creative with their offense, due to the rash of injuries on the offensive line. On the Kickoff At The Park podcast, host Chris Cooley addresses the issue of putting so much blocking responsibility on the Redskins tight ends.
“I’d rather coach a guy who can block to learn how to run a little bit then try to coach a guy who can’t block to block.”
Additionally, finding a player who can relieve some of the O-line injury strain could be paramount to the Redskins’ success. After the Redskins signed three journeymen, tackle Austin Howard as well as guards John Cooper & Luke Bowanko, Washington could walk into Tampa with 4 new starters on the offensive line. Cooper could replace Scherff and rookie Christian or Howard could replace Morgan Moses who is still a question mark this Sunday, dealing with knee pain. Bergstrom playing right guard will be an option as well.
The Redskins have a real shot at winning the division and, with the offensive line limping into Tampa Bay, it’s time to pull out all the stops. We’ve seen the Redskins use outside linebacker Ryan Anderson as a goal line fullback, so why not try other players on the roster? Alabama is known for using players at multiple positions and who better to tinker with, than John Allen & Daron Payne. Using any of the former Alabama defensive lineman as fullbacks or tight ends need to be on the table, not just in goal line situations either. The fear of injury is always there, but Washington needs to treat every match-up like a playoff game and these two would be great candidates to help in the run game.
As previously mentioned, Washington is still the NFC East leader, with some winnable games on the horizon. Next up is Tampa Bay who provides a high scoring offense with backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick leading the charge. Although Firzpatrick has been a thorn in Washington’s side, Tampa Bay leads the league with 17 interceptions. This will be an opportunity for the Redskins’ defense to capitalize on mistakes.
Former Redskins’ receivers Desean Jackson and Mike Evans pose legit downfield threats for the Washington defense. Add in former Alabama tight end OJ Howard and this could be tough. Getting pressure on Fitzpatrick will ultimately decide how successful this defense can be. The Bucs defense has been giving up a ton of points every week and opportunities will be there for the Skins offense. The young and inexperienced defensive Bucs backfield could be vulnerable. Although the Redskins downfield passing game has been nonexistent, look for Alex Smith to take some shots downfield and expose the Buccaneers’ undersized youngsters. As always the run game has to roll in order for the Redskins offense to move the ball.
The B&G Report Game Prediction:
Look for the Washington defense to force three turnovers one of which leading to a score by new Redskins safety Clinton-Dix.
By Adam Aniba
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