Saturday, December 29, 2012

Redskins vs. Cowboys - Keys to Success

The Washington Redskins control their own destiny in week 17 of the NFL season; they can win the division and earn a home game in January, something that hasn't happened since 1999. And by the grace of [football] God(s), the game to determine the NFC East is against arch-rival Dallas Cowboys, and the Redskins play host. So what do the Skins need to do in order to secure victory, the division title, and a playoff appearance?

1. Fans must be in full force! FedEx Field needs to finally feel like a place that opponents hate to play. This game needs to be all about the Redskins in the stands. Fans must be loud. They must stomp. They must fight for each other if security tells them they're too rowdy. Dan Snyder needs to cut back his rules, and prices, for one night only (won't happen, but it feels good saying it in case it spreads to him). The fans must be so loud when the Cowboys are on offense that even London Fletcher is considering calling timeouts before the snap. The fans must be so quiet when the Redskins are on offense that Jason Garrett can hear every word whispered into Kyle Shanahan's headset directed at Robert Griffin III. When the Redskins score, the roof known as Heaven needs to be blown off the top of the world and John Mara all the way up in New York needs to be able to hear a fan base chanting.

2. RGIII must continue to be decisive. I've got full confidence in his ability to make the right reads pre- and post-snap. The kid has been excellent all year long, and he hasn't shown us anything to make us think he can't be vs. Dallas. We've seen RGIII play some very good football within the division, especially during this stretch. Anything can happen. He can look like a rookie finally. He may not be 100% still. But if he makes good decisions, he can win this football game and further establish his legend.

3. Run the football. Dallas' defense is depleted. They've got no interior presence on their D-Line or at Linebacker, and their safeties are underwhelming. Alfred Morris needs to be fed, and this is a great buffet for Alf. Expect to see Darrell Young get a few handoffs as well, and if he's capable, Robert Griffin III taking off up the middle like he did vs. Minnesota is a very likely possibility.

4. Execute playaction. Washington has run more playaction than any other team in the league. Robert Griffin III has had great success from playaction. Dallas' defense will be looking to hit the QB every single play, so sell the run-fake and hit your man deep. If Bob is making wise decisions, he'll hit the open guy and they'll do the rest.

5.  Do not give up big plays. This stretch has been defined on defense by bend but don't break play. It has worked. I don't know how much further we can bend, but hopefully we don't break now. However, there has been reason to get confident in our play. Jarvis Jenkins has really come on in recent weeks, and it has helped push QB's out of their comfort zone in the pocket and into the line of fire of the blitz. Haslett has employed more man-coverage which has really helped keep receivers off of their game. The linebackers, especially London Fletcher, have been seeing passes fall into their hands because quarterbacks have been trying to throw while getting hit and not having a spot to throw to because of the man coverage by the corners. Rob Jackson's emergence as a threat has seen him cause offenses to not roll their protection to one side, and Kerrigan has benefited from it. It also helps that Haslett has been flipping Kerrigan, so offensive linemen have to study more than just one guy. As long as this defense isn't trying to make a play, and instead just makes them when they're available, they can take advantage of their opportunities.