Back to Basics: A Redskins Story
The Washington Redskins are in a “must win” situation this week against the visiting Chicago Bears. At 0-2 overall, and 0-2 in the division, this game could be the difference between head coach Jay Gruden losing this team or a revitalizing win to get them back on track. The Chicago Bears enter this game 1-1 with an 0-2 feel and are struggling to find some offensive consistency. The Redskin defense is currently ranked 30th overall out of 32 teams and the Bears offense currently ranks 30th overall in total offense.
The point: something has to give this Monday night at FedEx field.
Last week, the Redskins were embarrassed in a home loss to the Cowboys where their fans completely took over FedEx field. Who sits in the seats does not ultimately decide who wins or loses football games. However, it has to be in the Redskins players minds that when they looked up in the stands on opening day, there were thousands of fans cheering on the opposing team. It’s not exactly a morale builder. That said, the Redskins have got to put a better product on the field because supporters are getting tired of investing their money and energy into this Redskins’ football team. There has been nothing to be excited about. The head coach calls out their Hall of Fame running back each week, Redskins starting left tackle and best player allegedly does not want to play for the franchise any longer, and the team is 0-2 with no reason to be optimistic that they will turn things around.
If the Redskins are going to have any chance this Monday night, they have to stay committed to running the football. If Redskins’ quarterback Case Keenum has to throw 40 times a game, that’s not going to equate to wins because the offense needs to establish some legitimate balance. The offensive line surprisingly has played fairly well on the left side, but has struggled immensely on what was supposed to be the strong side. Offensive guard Brandon Scherff and right tackle Morgan Moses have to play better in order for the Redskins to have a chance to move the football consistently. As a unit, the offensive line has not blocked the run well and the team has a total of 75 yards rushing in the two games combined. Part of it is winning those one on one battles up front and part of it is the ability to call the right run plays at the right times. Jay Gruden has to be more creative in his play calling and give his offense a chance. Beyond that, if something is working, make the defense stop it versus making a conscious decision to go away from it.
The Redskins can’t afford to turn the ball over this week against a tough Bears defense and give them additional offensive possessions. They are fast, physical, and may have the best defensive player in the league in Khalil Mack. It all starts with offensive line and their ability to get movement up front. If the Bears’ defensive line is able to get constant penetration into the backfield, it’s going to be another long day for this Redskins offense. In theory, the Redskins have not been exactly putrid offensively, but they have been inconsistent and terrible on third downs in the second half of the first two football games. They will need to break that trend and be more creative throughout. They need to speed the game up and play with a sense of urgency.
This Redskin team looks the same when they are up 17-0 as when they are down 31-14. I don’t get it. Some things have got change in their offensive approach, and they need to get into attack mode and stay in it. Speaking of attacking, the Redskin receivers’ values were a question mark coming into this season. Up to this point, they have played solid football, and been a pleasant surprise as rookie Terry McLaurin is emerging into a budding star at the position. Use him…give him as many targets as possible. Maybe that will actually provide a dynamic that teams may actually “fear” when they play the Redskins. Currently, nobody fears anything about this “vanilla” (in my Jay Gruden voice) offense, but hopefully, they decide to open things up even more on Monday night.
The Redskins defensively have been tough to watch. They have been beyond agonizing to endure. There is no pass rush, constant breakdowns in the secondary, third down stoppage percentage is poor, and they haven’t stopped anybody from doing anything in the second half of these first two football games. The concept of “halftime adjustments” isn’t synonymous with the Redskins’ defense as it stands. The Chicago Bears offense on the other hand hasn’t exactly been the 2007 Patriots either. If the Redskins defense were going to “get right” it would be Monday night in front of the home fans (well, kind of in front of the home fans), on national television against a struggling offense that looks to be losing confidence by the week. Just like the offense, they need to be in attack mode, and play angry and aggressive. Throw all caution out the window and release the hounds. One of those hounds, defensive end Jonathan Allen who has been dealing with a knee injury, said Friday he is “100% playing Monday Night”. Everybody on the front seven is going to have to step up, and establish themselves as a force to be dealt with. We look to be too nice on defense and very passive in our approach. This will need to change in expeditious fashion because the Bears offense is looking at the Redskin defense as an opportunity to get back right.
X’s and O’s chalk talk isn’t going to win this game this week against the Bears. They can do all the game planning and scheming they want, but until this team makes it up in their minds that they are sick of being laughed at and overlooked, they will continue to receive the same results. The Redskins have been in “self-check” mode. They are getting in their own way and teams believe that eventually, they will lose the game on their own. Up to this point, this has proven to be true. Let’s hope they are able to turn some heads and change the narrative surrounding this team starting this Monday night. They need to get off to a quick start, but keep the foot on the gas for four quarters of football. I honestly want to be an optimist about Monday night, but I believe the Redskins win by default because the Bears will simply play worse than they do. I won’t believe they can play four solid quarters of football under Jay Gruden until I see it for myself. My message to the players and coaching staff: PROVE ME WRONG. Redskins win despite an ugly game 20-16…As you were…
Photo Credit: Washington Redskins