Last week, the Washington Redskins were defeated in their home opener by the Indianapolis Colts 21-9 in an absolute putrid performance across the board. Their inability to score one touchdown was only the beginning of the Redskins issues last week as they performed in front of a stadium that was virtually half empty (or half full if you're the optimist type). This week, the Redskins hope to get back in the win column against the Aaron Rodgers led Green Bay Packers, who are coming off a 29-29 tie against the Minnesota Vikings and former Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins. The Redskins come into this week’s game with a 1-1 record that has more of an 0-4 feeling to it. Green Bay is 1-0-1, and is still undefeated. After last week’s performance, it's easy to expect the Redskins to lay down this week, and concede defeat. It may actually be the contrary when we look at this team's history, and how they play down to competition when expectations are high, and then tend to play up to competition when expectations are minimal.
The Washington Redskins will have to adjust to some major changes up front on the offensive line. Starting left tackle Trent Williams, right tackle Morgan Moses, and right guard Brandon Scherff were all limited at some point this week in practice with injuries. Starting left guard Shawn Lauvao is also banged up and looks unlikely to play Sunday. This means starting center Chase Roullier will likely slide to left guard, and the starting center will become Tony Bergstrom. The Redskins also signed wide receivers Michael Floyd and Breshad Perriman to the active roster. Maurice Harris has also been cleared in the concussion protocol, and should be active Sunday.
Let's take a look at how the Redskins can slow down Aaron Rodgers and put some points on the board this week.
Offensively, the Redskins have a lot going against it currently. They have injuries on the offensive line that have caused some shifting of positions, injuries and personnel changes at wide receiver, and Aaron Rodgers is coming to town on Sunday. All that said, the Redskins still need to establish an identity and find a way to maximize the talent they have on the field. Yes, they need to establish the run game. Yes, they need bigger plays down field. Yes, they need to be more creative in their play calling including calling the appropriate types of runs for the personnel they have in the game. Namely, Adrian Peterson who tallied 11 carries for a mere 20 yards last week. Head coach Jay Gruden has to find a way to make in-game adjustments and get players involved. Running back Chris Thompson led the team in receptions for the second week in a row, and its become a trend. That will not be a winning recipe going forward. Jordan Reed as always will need to be featured in the passing game, but they need to find more dynamic ways to get their wide receivers involved downfield. Redskin receivers have totaled 18 catches for 210 yards COMBINED in the first two games this season.
The Redskins have scored just three field goals totaling 9 points in the second half of the first two games combined. The coaching staff has to find ways to make adjustments at halftime to put TOUCHDOWNS on the board. If they are able to acquire large chunks of yards on first and second down this week, it will make life a lot easier for Jay Gruden to play-call, and for the offense to execute and find a rhythm. Ultimately, the offense's ability to stay on the field is going to help limit the opportunities the Packers have to put points on the board. The Redskin offensive line has to have some pride this week and not let the Green Bay defensive front seven dominate the line of scrimmage, and stay in the backfield all day. They need to be in attack mode to take what they want; not just what the defense gives them. The word for this week is AGGRESSIVENESS. The Redskins need to call plays more aggressively, they need to block more aggressively, run more aggressively, and quarterback Alex Smith needs to have a more aggressive mentality operating the offense.
There really is no perfect blueprint for stopping Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packer offense, but just like the Redskin offense, the defense must be aggressive against a quarterback that can make every throw in every situation on the field. The Redskins will need to get the Packers into 3rd down and long situations. In order to do that, they must tackle well in the Packer's short passing game, and stop the run on first and second down for minimal yardage. A lot of the Packer offensive success hinges on the legs of Aaron Rodgers, and his ability to keep plays alive outside the pocket, and by scrambling for large chunks of yards to move the sticks. Rodgers has the ability to destroy a defense even when you think you have him figured out. He has been nursing a knee injury he suffered in week 1. The Redskins will need to try and use multiple coverages, and move some of the defensive fronts around pre-snap in an effort to make Rodgers think about what he is doing a little more, and confuse his offensive linemen. This will cause him to hold onto the football longer enabling our defensive front seven to establish pressure and get to him early and often. Defensive Coordinator Greg Manusky has his work cut out for him in trying to slow down tight end Jimmy Graham who the Redskins really have no one answer for in pass coverage. On the outside, Davante Adams is a touchdown threat every time he touches the football, so it is imperative that the defensive backs keep everything in front of them. The Redskins' defense is currently ranked #1 overall, and will get a significant test against arguably the best quarterback in the NFL, and some say ever. The defensive backs will not be able to afford any miscommunications because the Packers will make them pay with touchdowns.
The Redskins' special teams have been pretty steady the first two games of the season overall. Coverage teams have been solid, and the kicking game has been feasible. The Redskins return game on punts and kickoffs have been below average, and they will need to figure out a way to generate some substantial yards and/or scores to help their offense out against the Packers this week. A special teams boost will give the Redskins some momentum and much needed energy. Place kicker Dustin Hopkins was 3 for 4 last week, and will need to convert on any opportunities. He is pretty much a guarantee inside the 40 yard line, but a virtual coin flip outside.
The Redskins do not want to go into the bye week 1-2. After the epic fail that was the Colt loss, they need to get back into the win column, and establish a higher performance expectation. Inconsistency has been a staple of this Jay Gruden era, and now is the time to conquer it starting with a quality, all-around performance for four quarters against the Packers. This week, the Redskins get back in the win column in a surprising victory against the Green Bay Packers with a score of 27-23, and get their first home win of the 2018 season.