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Redskins Roundtable: Week 3

Last weeks loss to the Texans in OT was in a word:

Rajan: Frustrating. The Texans were clearly on the ropes in the 4th quarter, and the Redskins were a converted 3rd and 1 and/or less than two inches away on a near-70 yard TD pass from putting the nail in the coffin last week. You could practically taste victory. Winning that game would have put the Redskins at 2-0, with sole possession of 1st place in the NFC East.

Keely: Embarrassing

Michelle: Par for the course.  When the chips are down, or when everything’s riding on the line, the ‘Skins have faltered, for the last 8 years.  That’s a coaching problem, pure and simple—and when the coaches keep changing, then it’s an administrative problem.

What does the Texans game teach us about this Redskins team?

Rajan: There’s a lot of work to do on defense, if the Redskins really fancy themselves as contenders in the NFC or even the NFC East. There’s just no excuse to allow anyone in the NFL to put up damn near 500 yards passing on your defense. The turnovers and pressure on opposing quarterbacks are great, but if the defense is getting trampled on, possession over possession, the Redskins simply don’t have an offense to constantly play in shootouts week after week.

Keely: On defense- we can stand up against the run, but our secondary looked like Swiss cheese out there. On offense- the ground game needs major improvement, but McNabb is such a stud that it didn’t really matter.

Michelle: As in so many heartbreaking seasons before, we have the talent.  Our QB is capable of putting up hundreds of yards.  Our receivers can get the TDs—YAC are better than they’ve ever been.  We’re even making the kicks (the missed FG was a special teams problem, not a kicker error.  And I challenge anyone to find a better special teams coach than Danny Smith).  Granted, our run game could be better, and needs to get MUCH better if we’re going to be a contender in the NFC East, a division with some of the best run defenses around—we should definitely be looking at Brandon Jacobs since he’s unhappy with his current situation.  And why we didn’t pick up Steven Jackson in the off-season is beyond me.

But the team as a whole doesn’t win consistently.  Again, that’s a matter of heart, organization, goal, vision—in other words, the administration, from the owner on down.

Looking forward, the Rams have lost most of their games in the past 2 seasons (27 of 28 have been losses). Why shouldn’t the Redskins overlook this team?

Rajan: Even at 0-2, the Rams are starting to believe in themselves and gain some confidence. They legitimately believe that have something in Sam Bradford, and they have youth & talent at some key positions. They’re certainly not ready to compete with the heavyweights yet, but even when they lose, they go down swinging.

Keely: We nearly lost to a similarly pitiful looking Rams team in week 2 of last year, then went on to lose to the LIONS (giving Detroit its first and only win of the season) in week 3 in spite of Jason Campbell’s 340 yards passing. We’ve been down this road before, and I’d like to think we’ve learned from it.

Michelle:  One word—Steven Jackson.  That runner is a beast.  And without a corresponding run game on our side, don’t count on McNabb’s arm to maintain that strength, or on our receivers to consistently catch the ball. More importantly, and more shockingly, we’re at the top of the NFC East.  Let me repeat that—the Redskins are leading the NFC East.  And since none of the other teams have played a division rival yet, so long as we win this week, we retain the top spot.  That’s a record worth fighting for!

Who on each team is going to have big week this week and why?

Rajan: For the Redskins: Santana Moss – I like the matchup of him going against a banged up and somewhat suspect Rams secondary. Kyle Shanahan has done a great job moving him around formations to get better matchups, and I think he has a big game this week. The Rams have given up 100+ yards receiving to an opposing receiver in each of their last two games, and Moss is the Redskins go-to guy.

For the Rams: Danny Amendola – Rams receiver Mark Clayton has emerged as Bradford’s favorite target, but Amendola is one of those guys that gets those “garbage” yards underneath and just seems virtually impossible to cover. He really reminds me of a poor man’s Wes Welker. I think the Redskins will focus on stopping Clayton from making any big plays, leaving ample check-down opportunities for Bradford to connect with Amendola.

Keely:  DeAngelo Hall will have a big week for Washington because he’s determined to avenge last week’s collapse against the Texans. He has the perfect opportunity to do so against Rams rookie QB Sam Bradford, who has thrown  more interceptions (4) than touchdowns (3). Rams top reciever Mark Clayton will draw a lot of attention from Washington’s defenders, giving number 2 wideout Danny Amendola an opportunity to have a big outing.

Michelle: London Fletcher.  With the Rams’ eye on Landry, Fletcher will have a chance to shine.  He’ll have a ton of tackles and should be congratulated on his 179th start in the NFL.  We should be grateful the “Greatest Show on Turf” has contented himself with “Grillin’ the Broil” in DC.  Most importantly, watch where he goes, because he’ll be following the ball.  Unlike oh, let’s just say, Haynesworth, whose eye is always on the paycheck.

Steven Jackson.  He’s already logged more rushing yards this season than our entire team, and without LaRon Landry, we wouldn’t even have a run defense.  He’ll put up big yards, but hopefully only two touchdowns.
What will be the Redskins defensive strategy to stop Sam Bradford before he gets going this week?

Rajan: Blitz, blitz, and blitz some more. The Redskins need to make sure that Bradford is focusing more on where the blitz is coming from than on calmly making his reads down the field. Bradford’s game is predicated on accuracy, so blitzing him from multiple directions will throw off his timing and rhythm on pass plays.

Keely:  I’m interested to see if Haslett takes DeAngelo Hall’s demand to cover the best receiver seriously. If Hall sticks with Clayton throughout the game, Bradford either loses his best target or risks being picked off.

Michelle: Defensive strategy?  Do we have one?  For all the talk about our 3-4, Haslett has done pretty much in DC what he did in St. Louis and New Orleans—NOT MUCH!!  Question:  How does our star line move from 4th in the league to last, without a significant change in personnel?  Answer:  Coaching.

Rant aside, absolutely we’re going to blitz.  We’re going to lose a couple of big plays and consistent yardage to the run, but we’re still going to blitz.  And that will rattle Bradford.  If we can use that to our advantage, Hall and Rogers have good opportunities to make turnovers happen.  With a couple of sacks, the rookie will be rattled with even just one interception.  And if we can force a turnover in the run game, we’ll be sitting pretty.

Bigger weapon for the Rams, Steven Jackson or Mark Clayton?

Rajan: Steven Jackson Jackson, to me, is the best running back in the NFL outside of Chris Johnson and Adrian Peterson. He is an outstanding runner, he’s as good as any pass-catching running back in the league, and he’s very good with blitz pick-up. Jackson averages almost 25 touches per game so far this season, which isn’t surprising because he’s easily their best player.

Keely: Mark Clayton. The ‘Skins showed they can contain even the most talented RBs last week. We lost because we weren’t effective against the passing game.

Michelle: Jackson.  Sorry Clayton, but you’re about to get a little taste of De’Angelo Hall.  And while Hall will flub at least one big play, he’ll consistently put pressure on the WR to prove his point.  He’s a star.

What is the X-factor for the Rams this week?

Rajan: Blitz pickup. As we witness against the Texans, the Redskins live and die by the blitz. If Bradford is able read the blitz and gash the Redskins for a few big plays, he will give his team enough confidence that they can beat the Redskins.

Keely: Sam Bradford’s learning curve will be the x-factor for the Rams because so much of the team’s success depends on him. At only week 3 of the regular season, the Redskins will have a difficult time predicting how quickly he’s adjusting to NFL-level play.

Michelle: Avoid the blitz by establishing a run game and fending off Carter, Orakpo, and maybe Haynesworth.  If they can create a tight pocket for Sam Bradford that lasts into the fourth quarter, they’ll make it a close game.

What is the X-factor for the Redskins?

Rajan: The running game. The Rams have allowed over 100 yards rushing in each of their last two games, including three runs of over 20 yards to opposing running backs. If the Redskins want to jump start their virtually non-existent running game (they’re dead last in the NFL in rushing offense), this Sunday is the time to get untracked. Clinton Portis has looked good so far, despite what his stats may say, but hasn’t always gotten the blocking that he’s needed to make plays. That has to end on Sunday.

Keely: The running game is the x-factor for the Redskins. There’s no way the Rams missed McNabb’s huge performance last week. They’ll prepare well for him and focus less on our not-so-intimidating run game. If we can get it going on the ground, we’ll take them by surprise. Washington hopes Keiland Williams and recently promoted Ryan Torain will help share the rushing burden with Clinton Portis.

Michelle: Don’t screw it up!  Play your position, live up to your responsibility, and see where else you can pitch in.  Think Clinton Portis—if you’re not running, you’re blocking.  If you’re not blocking, you’re screening.  If you’re not screening, you’re receiving.  Do your job, and then do everything else you can think of on the field to score.

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