The Washington Redskins 2017 season is one of those that will be littered with “what if’s.” What if Doctson held onto the ball in Kansas City? What if the defensive front seven was healthy all year? What if they had invested more in proven receivers?
We can keep playing this game, but the 2017 season is going to ultimately come down to untimely injuries during this stretch of the schedule. The Redskins have the toughest schedule through the first 9 games at .634, with the second toughest coming in at .610 per ESPN’s playoff standings.
The Redskins next test on Sunday won’t be any easier as they head to the red hot 7-2 New Orleans Saints. After giving up over 300 passing yards to Case Keenum, the Redskins defense really cannot do much worse. Even though this game might have some doom and gloom to it, there are 5 ways to stay in this game and deliver another surprising upset.
5 Keys to Win
1) Commit to the running game, but don’t obsess over it
Just like when you start dating a girl, you want to show you can be committed to her, but not so much that it crosses into an obsession. No one is saying the Redskins need to run the ball 35-40 times against the Saints, but they need to control the clock and keep Drew Brees off the field as much as possible.
Staying with the running game will also allow for play action to be available on the fast track that is the Super Dome.
2) Doctson’s Time to Shine
Speaking of a fast track, could this be the game that Josh Doctson has his coming out party? Doctson was targeted seven times in the game against Minnesota, and two of those opportunities had touchdown written all over them.
If the Redskins are to keep up, Doctson’s target volume will need to increase as Cousins gets more comfortable with the 2016 first round pick.
3) Will Friday’s practice be the best?
You only play as well as you practice. Or at least that is what I was taught growing up. This seems to ring true to D.J. Swearinger too. Per ESPN 980, Swearinger aired some frustrations post-game commenting that Friday practices need to be taken more seriously. Was that meant for the coaches, players, or both?
Each individual player can only answer that for themselves. If there is a pattern appearing on Fridays, it will need to be broken for the Redskins to have a chance to win on Sunday.
4) Minimize big plays by Kamara
Nine times out of ten Drew Brees would occupy this designation. However, Alvin Kamara has taken the NFL by storm with his joystick play style. For the Redskins to keep pace with the high-flying Saints offense, they will need to find a way to contain Kamara and a Saints running game that ran for over 300 yards against the Buffalo Bills last week.
5) Nick Rose needs to keep rolling
I would argue that the Redskins have not had a reliable Kicker since Brett Conway in the late 90’s into the early 00’s. They thought they finally had one in Dustin Hopkins, but he went on the IR a few weeks ago. Enter Nick Rose, the University of Texas product who had never made a kick in a meaningful NFL game until this year. To everyone’s joy, Rose has been solid in his short stint here in D.C.
Rose converted all his attempts last week including a 55-yard FG to keep it to a one score game. He will need to be automatic again when called upon, so points are not wasted in what will surely be a high scoring game.
Prediction: The way the season has gone up to this point, the Redskins and Saints could combine to score a total of 17 points in a defensive struggle. I unfortunately do not think that will be the case. The Redskins have the offensive fire power to keep pace if Samaje Perine can build on last week’s game, and the receiving core can catch the ball.
However, the injury to Will Compton that occurred against the Vikings and shallow depth in the front seven will be the ultimate demise of the Redskins. The Saints’ offense and much improved defense will be too much. The Redskins will be coming home 4-6 getting ready to play the Giants on Thanksgiving Day in what will be a code red.
LINE: NO -7.5, PREDICTION: WAS 20, NO 35
The Front Four
NYG +10.5 (KC 24 NYG 14)
MIN -2.0 (LAR 24 MIN 27)