5 keys for the Redskins vs. Indianapolis

If the Redskins want to emerge with a record of 4-2 come next Monday morning, here are five keys for doing so:

1. Run the Football: Yes, this mantra is beginning to sound a lot like a broken record, but it’s absolutely critical that the Redskins establish their running game in this match up, lest they want to deal with Peyton Manning and the high-octane Colts offense for a majority of the evening.

Take a look at the statistics: the Colts are currently giving up over 140 yards per game on the ground, and are in the bottom five in the league in rushing touchdowns allowed to boot.

In their two losses (both on the road, mind you), the Colts have given up 100+ yards rushing to the opposing feature back, Arian Foster (who popped off for over 200 yards in Week 1), and Maurice Jones-Drew (the only 100+ yard outing he’s had all season). Interestingly enough, Jones-Drew and Foster, while built differently, are both guys with a solid strength-and-speed combination, indicative of the type of backs that the Colts smaller defense has trouble against.

While Ryan Torain certainly hasn’t entrenched himself in that echelon of those running backs yet, he’s proven to be a guy that will not go down on the first hit, fighting for extra yards after initial contact. If Torain gets untracked early (much like Foster did when the Texans beat the Colts), he can make life misterable for a Colts defense that has proven it will wilt if dragged into a slobberknocker.

If the Redskins can run the football, they can keep their offense out of 3rd and long situations, and wear down the Colts defense as the game progresses. Dwight Freeny and Robert Mathis, the uber-quck defensive ends for the Colts, are outstanding pass rushers, but if they have to stand their ground at the point of attack against the Redskins offensive tackles (Trent Williams and Jammal Brown – both who are outstanding run blockers), they’ll be badly mismatched.

2. Stop the Run: The Redskins have dodged a bit of a bullet over the last couple of weeks, in that they played against teams whose playcallers have been known to simply stop running the football at the first opportunity they get. The Packers simply refused to run the football in the 2nd half (a habit they’ve had all season) despite leading by as much as 10 points, and it’s no secret that Andy Reid views running the football as more of an inconvenience than a gameplan.

On the other hand, the Colts squeaked by the Kansas City Chiefs last week, even with Manning having one of his (stastically) worst games in a couple of years, riding the legs of 3rd string running back Mike Hart (his 4th quarter rushing TD was the game clincher). The Colts starting running back, Joseph Addai, is banged up and did not practice as of Thursday afternoon. Donald Brown, the Colts first round pick last season, looks like he’ll be rested for another week, so the Redskins will likely be seeing Hart get a majority of the carries on Sunday evening. And while Mike Hart looked good in that game and played well in his Michigan days, he won’t be confused Adrian Peterson or Chris Johnson anytime soon.

The Colts are in the bottom six in the league in rushing yards, rushing yards per game, and yards per attempt. The Redskins simply can’t let this be the game where the Colts get their running game back on track, because Manning will subsequently start surgically dissecting the Redskins secondary with the play action passes, something he’s absolutely lethal at.

3. Turn Peyton Manning into Captain Checkdown: Jim Haslett needs to dust off the game plan he used against the Eagles a couple of weeks ago, and attack the Colts passing game the same way: jamming the receivers at the line, disrupting the timing patters between the receivers at Manning, and dropping as many as eight guys back into coverage.

Manning’s ridiculous level of execution comes from the on-field rapport he has with this receivers, in terms of their timing and location on the field. Disrupt their timing, and you’ll disrupt his. That’s the way opposing teams have beaten Manning. He’s damn impervious to the blitz, so no matter how many times and how many different ways an opponent tries to bring the heat, Manning will figure out a way to beat it. He’s just that good.

The only way to frustrate Manning is to take away the intermediate and long range stuff, by disrupting the receivers timing patterns and then dropping everyone back into coverage, and force him to keep dumping off the ball short on checkdowns.

4. Convert Red Zone opportunities: In the Redskins three wins this season, they’ve allowed a grand total of three offensive touchdowns to the opposing team. I can guarantee you that the Colts will score more than one touchdown this Sunday. On the flipside, the Colts have been giving up over 20 points per game this season to opposing offenses, and the 4th most rushing TD’s in the NFL.

When the Redskins get a Red Zone opportunity on Sunday, they have to convert them into touchdowns. Graham Gano has been great, but they simply can’t expect to beat the Colts by scoring a bunch of field goals. They cannot leave points on the field, because the Colts will be scoring in bunches themselves.

5. Win the 4th quarter: Every time I go for a check-up, my doctor always says my heart looks strong and my blood pressure is outstanding. Yet every time I watch a Redskins game, I swear I start getting heart palpitations and a slight tingle in my left arm.

The Redskins ahve had a bad habit of letting the opposing team hang around ’til the very last play of the game (happened in 3 of the 5 games this season), something they can’t duplicate against the Colts.

The Colts scored 10 of their 19 points last week in the fourth quarter, and have scored 51 points total in the 4th quarter all season (their most of any quarter).

Or, to put it another way: the last two quarterbacks on this planet you want to be facing in a two minute situation are Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, and we just happen to be playing the latter this weekend.

The Redskins need to control the ball in the 4th quarter and play “keep away” from Manning, not giving him anything close to an opportunity for late-game heroics.

For once, it’d be nice to watch a Redskins game without feeling like I need a double-bypass afterward (though i’m certainly not holding my breath with that).


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One Response to “5 keys for the Redskins vs. Indianapolis”

  1. The Redskins will need to frustrate P Manning’s pass game early.