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Week 11 Keys to the Game: Washington Redskins vs Houston Texans

The 6-3 Washington Redskins return to FedEx Field this Sunday to face a red hot Houston Texan team riding a six-game winning streak. Not only are the Texans playing great football, but they are as healthy as they have been in recent years this deep into the season. The Redskins seek to start another winning streak this week against a Texan team that can be explosive offensively, and dominant defensively. The Texans are likely the most complete team from top to bottom that the Skins have matched up against all season. The Texans are coming off a bi-week meaning they are well rested, and have had two weeks to prepare for this occasion. At 6-3, and first place in the AFC South, they have much to play for, and much to still prove as they look to secure a possible first round bye accompanied with home field advantage in the playoffs.

The Redskins are coming off a 16-3 less than stellar performance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Less than stellar, yet still a victory. That seems to be the season theme for this squad that has yet to find its offensive rhythm, and that seems to have lost its mojo as far as being stifling defensively. Last week, they gave up over 400 yards of total offense, but still managed to hold the Bucs to just 3 points as they caused 4 turnovers, and 3 of which occurred in the redzone. Against this Houston team, you can’t afford to give them those types of opportunities consistently albeit their redzone offense this year has been one of the worst in the league. The Redskins have to be able to put together four quarters of football, and control the tempo of the game. Redskin fans have not seen the Redskins put together four quarters of solid football in any game the duration of head coach Jay Grudens tenure in Washington, and I challenge you to reference ONE. That said, what better time than the present to put the notion that the Redskins can’t make in-game adjustments to rest with four quarters of dominance against a more than formidable Houston Texans squad.

Siiiiiggggh...you know, every week, I feel like I’m repeating myself regarding the Redskin’s keys to being successful offensively. It’s almost as if they don’t read this article before they go into battle on Sundays. The blueprint for the most part doesn’t change with the exception of a few adjustments week to week. Establish the run, feature Jordan Reed, stay aggressive, and show some offensive creativity. The Redskins have got to look at their offensive personnel and say to themselves “this is what we have...how can we get the most out of them?” Quarterback Alex Smith has consistently shown you over the course of his career that he is most successful when on the move running bootlegs, playaction passing, quick passes, and read option looks circumstantially. You use those looks to create some opportunity downfield. The Redskin offense has got to stop letting defenses dictate to them. It has been a recurring theme. When they are in offensive meetings, Jay shouldn’t be questioning “how can we adjust to this”. He should be attempting to figure out how can he attack the Houston Texans’ defensive liabilities. They need to create some mismatches for tight end Jordan Reed and wide receiver Maurice Harris; also, draw up some counter attacks in situations where those favorable matchups may not present themselves. Wide receiver Josh Doctson has finally started to emerge as a viable threat in the last few weeks, and looks to be a talent the Redskins can utilize in various circumstances. They need to continue to build off of his current success, and begin to game-plan to get him additional opportunities schematically. The running game has been the Redskins’ bread and butter, their sugar for their Kool-Aid, their cheese to their macaroni, and if they are to have any type of sustained success against the Houston Texans defense, they will need to be able to run the football effectively. They cannot afford to get down early, and then be forced into obvious passing situations. That will be a losing recipe. The Texans defensive line is amongst the best in football with J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney bullying opposing offensive guards and tackles, while the defensive secondary led by defensive backs Tyrann Mathieu and William Joseph feast off of opposing quarterback mistakes. Houston can be scored on, and they can be scored on consistently if they are attacked appropriately. If they are not attacked, they will capitalize on a Redskin offense that is unable to make adjustments.

The Redskins’ defense this Sunday will be challenged across the board. This Houston Texan offense can beat you in a variety of ways, and have big play capabilities. Redskin Defensive Coordinator Greg Manusky is faced with the unenviable task of finding a way to slow down Texan’s wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, newly acquired wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, and running back Lamar Miller (who can run the ball effectively, and catch passes out of the backfield). The numero uno focus this week however will be to contain dual threat quarterback Deshaun Watson, who has no problems beating teams throwing the ball downfield, or by using his feet. The Redskin defensive line will be more important than it has ever been this week. They will need to be able to dominate the line of scrimmage and constantly get in the backfield. The key is for them to be disruptive and throw off the timing between Watson and his offensive weapons. The linebackers and defensive backs will have to tackle well in the secondary. It’s imperative that they do so this week as it is every week, but this week in particular, as they are facing a team that thrives off of missed tackles which fuels their offensive momentum. The Texans will look to exploit a Redskin secondary that has been consistently inconsistent throughout the course of this whole season. They have been able to make some plays and cause some turnovers, but they have allowed a lot of big plays and plenty of positive yards by opposing offenses in recent weeks. Communication within the secondary and accountability will be critical. If everyone takes care of their responsibility and they don’t suffer any major mental errors, this Redskins defense will put the team in a position to win this football game.

The Redskins once again have an opportunity to make a statement this week; they can also prove to folks around the league they indeed “are NOT who they thought they were” (in my Dennis Green voice). They have plenty of injuries on the offensive line, but nevertheless enough talent to move the football, and score a few touchdowns. The defensive secondary is not 100%, but despite it all, the Redskins are in a prime position to control their own destiny. With a win this week, they can secure their position atop the NFC East standings for the next few weeks at the very least, but more importantly control their own destiny going forward. The Houston Texans are going to come into this game well rested, ready, and relentless. The Redskins need to combat that with energy, effort, and efficiency all over the field, and on both sides of the football. Special teams will need to give the offense a boost by making field goal attempts and acquiring positive return yards whenever possible; Tress Way needs to continue to kick the lining off the ball, and put the Redskin defense in excellent field position situations. This game will simply be about

Who wants it more?

Who is better prepared?

Who values their number one spot at the top of their respective divisions more?

Simply put, the Redskins need to put some points on the board, and not force the defense to have to completely carry them this week. They do that, it will be a close and highly competitive game. If they don’t, well, we know how that story ends. The Redskins will do what they are supposed to do this week, and emerge victorious 27-23.

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