Week 2 Keys to Win: Washington Redskins vs Indianapolis Colts
Last week, the Washington Redskins defeated the Arizona Cardinals 24-6 in a battle that was seemingly over by halftime. This week, the Redskins look to better their record against the 0-1 Indianapolis Colts who had their franchise quarterback, Andrew Luck, back at the helm in week 1. Luck looked healthy and was very efficient going 39-53 tallying 319 yards with 2 TDs and 1 INT. Look for him to be even more comfortable this week in his second game back coming off a home loss.
Alex and the Redskins offense have their home opener against a Colts defense that surrendered 34 points to the Cincinnati Bengals. They have a young defense that can run, but if the Redskins move the line of scrimmage with that offensive line like they did last week, they are going to be tough for ANYBODY to stop. Offensively, the Redskins showed they can move the chains efficiently and methodically. Alex Smith had total command of the offense last week going 21-30 with 255 yards and 2 TDs. Enough can’t be said about the way he controlled the huddle; made pre-snap adjustments, recognized blitzes, and changed up the cadence. That’s called “quarterbacking” ladies and gentlemen.
Just like in any football game, it all starts up front with that offensive line who played as a cohesive unit last week, and regulated the line of scrimmage. The Redskins must continue to run the football effectively, and work through Adrian Peterson and Chris Thompson. This will make the passing game virtually unstoppable, forcing the Colts to move an extra defensive back up in “the box” to support the run and be more vulnerable to play action pass plays, and big plays downfield. They need to score early, during, and at the end of the game. The Redskins wide receivers last week only combined for 8 catches for 65 yards. This week, the Redskins should look for Indy to jump a lot of underneath routes and bump more in coverage to disrupt some of those underneath routes opening up more looks downfield for Jamison Crowder, Paul Richardson (if he plays given he is currently questionable with a shoulder injury), and 2016 first round pick Josh Doctson who fans are clamoring to see more from.
The Redskins sent wide receivers Trey Quinn and Cam Sims to the injured reserve list, both with ankle injuries. There is no timetable on either of their returns. The Redskins brought back WR Brian Quick and signed WR Jehu Chesson. Most likely, Jordan Reed will be in the slot more often giving Vernon Davis additional tight end repetitions. With Reed drawing double teams, look for coach Jay Gruden to scheme some things up that enable Vernon Davis to take advantage of mismatches versus slower linebackers and smaller defensive backs. Vernon Davis could prove to be an important piece to the Redskins offensive success this week. The Redskins must get Chris Thompson in the open field as much as possible, move him around multiple formations and utilize him on first through fourth down. He makes too many great things happen when he touches the football not to feature him.
Last week against the Arizona Cardinals, the Redskins defense allowed a total of 213 net yards with Bradford throwing for 153 yards and 1 INT. This week, they face a “different animal” in Colts quarterback Andrew Luck. The impressive thing about Luck’s performance last week is that he completed passes to 9 different receivers in their loss which means he doesn’t discriminate while trying to move the football. The Redskins defense saw starting cornerback Quinton Dunbar perform at an elite level last week, and make plays virtually every time he was in the general area. This week, he will be tested by the speed of T.Y. Hilton and the route running of former Redskin receiver Ryan Grant who caught 8 receptions Week 1 in his first game as a Colt. Defensive Coordinator Greg Manusky will need to do all he can to make Andrew Luck as uncomfortable in the pocket as possible by sending some pressure with 5 or 6 in spots and by running some games up front with the defensive linemen. If there was one area where the Skins struggled last week defensively, it was getting consistent pressure on the quarterback. They cannot allow Andrew Luck to have a clean pocket, and survey the field whenever he wants because eventually he will find an open receiver. The Redskins will most likely rely on their front 4 to 5 (Kerrigan, Payne, Ioannidis, Allen, Smith) to beat their men one on one and find the football. This allows the Skins to drop 6 to 7 in coverage and shrink the throwing windows for Luck. They will need to keep T.Y. Hilton from running past our coverages so it is possible you may see the Redskins bring an additional defensive back in at times even on first or second down.
The Colts running game was for the most part a non-factor last week as their leading rusher, rookie Jordan Wilkins tallied 14 carries for a less than pedestrian 40 yards on the ground. Look for the interior defensive linemen namely Daron Payne, Jonathan Allen, and Matt Ioannidis to spend a lot of time in the Colts backfield, and be as disruptive as possible. This will make it difficult for Luck and the Colts offense to establish any type of offensive rhythm. The defensive backs and linebackers this week need to understand that this isn’t Sam Bradford. Andrew Luck will pick them apart in the secondary if they allow him to by not staying disciplined in their coverages. If the Redskins stick with fundamentals, and don’t commit unnecessary penalties, it will be a long day for the Indianapolis Colts. The main thing, keep everything in front of them and TACKLE.
Special teams last week suffered a considerable blow when primary punt returner rookie Trey Quinn went down with an ankle injury. Some names being tossed around as replacements are defensive backs Danny Johnson and Greg Stroman. The Redskins special teams performed well overall last week, but at some point will have to find a way to use special teams as an opportunity to score touchdowns whether that be on kickoff, punt return, punt fakes, field goal fakes, etc. They can’t lose sight of the reality that there are probably about 20 special teams plays a game, and none of them should be taken for granted. Kicker Dustin Hopkins job this week is the same as it is every week: make field goals and keep the ball inbounds unless you are kicking it out of the end zone on kickoffs. The Redskins tackled well overall on special teams last week, and will need to do an even better job this week, especially if the Colts put T.Y. Hilton back on punt returns.
The Washington Redskins need this victory to start the season off 2-0, and build the momentum going into week 3 when the Green Bay Packers come to town. This season, the Redskins have to basically run through the quarterback gauntlet, and it starts this week with a healthy and motivated Andrew Luck. In order to win, they will need to play FOUR QUARTERS of football in every facet: offense, defense, special teams. In order to do that, it’s going to require the Redskins coaching staff to make in-game and halftime adjustments. If they get a lead in this game, keep scoring. Don’t take the proverbial foot off of their throat and give the Colts any hope whatsoever. This is the NFL, which means there is a no mercy rule and no cap on how many points you are allowed to score. That said, the Redskins should be able to win this football game, but may make it tougher than it needs to be. They will not disappoint the home crowd, and win 33-26.