The worst possible scenario happened against the New Orleans Saints. You are up by 15 with approximately 3:00 minutes left, and you cannot close out the game. You were fleeced by a team that is clearly ready for January when you are not. That loss has all but ended the Redskins‘ postseason hopes, but has not completely locked them out.
The Redskins’ schedule has not done them any favors having played the toughest schedule through a team’s first 10 games this year by miles. Five of their next six games will be against teams at or below .500, so things should get easier from here. It all starts on Thanksgiving night against the New York Giants. We have seen Redskins’ teams in the past go on a win streak to make the playoffs. This game could be the beginning of a trip to playing deep in January. Don’t be fooled…this is a code red game.
5 Keys to the Game
1) Feed Perine
Samaje Perine shined last week with the Redskins first 100+ yard rushing game since Rob Kelley against the Packers last year. With Chris Thompson out for the rest of the year, Perine will be leaned on heavily Thursday night. I would expect for Perine to cross the 100-yard mark again. The Giants have allowed the 3rd most rushing yards in the league. Another 20-25 touch game by Perine will allow for the Redskins to control the clock and dictate the game pace.
2) Four Full Quarters from Defense
We have seen it way too much this year. The Redskins start off great at the beginning of a half and then collapse in the final 2:00 minutes. The Redskins’ defense is so bad that they have allowed a league worst 89 points in the final two minutes of the 2nd and 4th quarter. The pass rush and tackling need to be there when it is needed most to close out games.
3) No Seconds on 3rd Down Defense
The Redskins’ achilles heel the past two seasons has been the fact that their defense can’t get off the field. Per ESPN, the Redskins are 22nd in the NFL this season on 3rd down defensive conversion at 42.0%. This is unsustainable. The defense catches a break against a Giants’ offense that is 29th in the league in 3rd down conversion rate at 34.1%. This is an offense you should be able to stop and start building your confidence for the final 5 games. Keep your defense off the field and you will run their defense out of gas.
4) Play Calling by Coaches
Both Jay Gruden and Greg Manusky have been able to make chicken parmesan out of chick s**t this season. Injuries have run amuck to the point that the Redskins could probably get a pass for finishing 8-8 or 9-7 this year. But, with as great of a job Gruden and Manusky have been doing, you can’t get complacent late in games. Don’t play so conservatively on defense when up by 15. Keep with what had been working. Don’t get cute on a 3rd and 1 with the game on the line by running off tackle instead of up the middle. If these men can stay consistent with what works, no one will be second guessing them Friday morning.
5) Cousins Serving Doctson Early and Late
We saw a heavy dose of Josh Doctson in the first half. 6 targets to be exact. But, then Doctson seemed to fall off the face of the earth. There is a chemistry that has developed between Cousins and Doctson. Whether it was play calling by Gruden or Cousins trying to spread the ball around, the Redskins were at their best offensively in the passing game when Doctson was being force fed the ball. Doctson needs to see 11+ targets this game and treat him like a first-round pick.
The Redskins’ offense will find a way to score points. Gruden has shown he has that ability to set Cousins & Co. up for that. This will be a game where the defense will finally get right. The Giants’ offense has bene so retched this year. Allowing them to score more than 20 points should have people scratching their heads. The Redskins will come out of Thanksgiving with a win and get back to one game under .500 staring down a match-up with the Dallas Cowboys in another Thursday night primetime game.
LINE: WAS -7.5 (NYG 17, WAS 28)
Front Four Predictions
Last Week: 3-1
Season: 3-1* (Based off when columns started)