Tonight, the Washington Redskins face a red hot Minnesota Viking team led by former Redskin quarterback Kirk Cousins. Ironically, current starting Redskins quarterback Case Keenum is the former quarterback for the Vikings, and was supplanted by Cousins with the idea he was a considerable upgrade that would get the Vikings to the Super Bowl. The Minnesota Vikings didn’t receive their immediate return on their investment, as they did not make the playoffs last season. This season however, they are 5-2 and in second place in the NFC North. In Kirk Cousins last two outings, he has accumulated over 700 yards passing, 8 total touchdowns, and a passing percentage over 70 percent. That is exceptional to say the least and the Vikings have averaged 40 points in those games.
The Washington Redskins are attempting to rebound from a 9-0 loss to the San Francisco 49ers last Sunday in what was a rainy and messy affair. Neither team was able to establish anything offensively because of the elements, and the Redskins benefited the least as they were shut out at home in a game that saw them not even attempt to pass as Case Keenum finished with a mere 77 yards passing on the day. This week, Case Keenum is hopefully fired up and extra focused to get revenge on his former team and prove it was a mistake they let him go. It hasn’t been talked about much, but Case Keenum and Kirk Cousins aren’t the only ones facing their old team this week. Former Minnesota Viking and current Redskin running back, Adrian Peterson is returning to Minnesota where he spent the majority of his Hall of Fame career. I’m sure there will be a lot of mixed emotions running through Adrian Peterson on Thursday night and he most certainly will attempt to channel that into rushing yards.
The Redskin offense cannot afford to simply turn around and hand the ball to Adrian Peterson on every first and second down. Not only will that not work strategically, but Peterson is battling a high ankle sprain, and it is unknown how much of the load he will be able to carry on Thursday night. At 1-6, the Redskins have absolutely nothing to lose by trying some new things offensively. There is nothing wrong with trying to game plan for the talent you have and get them opportunities to touch the football as much as possible in whatever way you can get it to them. Find ways to throw the football to Terry McLaurin and get him the ball whether it be on screen plays, quick hitches and/or slants, and of course some shots down the field where he can utilize his speed. Put Steven Sims Jr. on the field with all your other athletes on the offensive side of the ball and make Minnesota figure what your move is going to be.
Bottomline, make them defend everybody. Don’t put yourself in a box and say “well, if we can’t run the ball, then we can’t win”. Of course, you want to establish the run, but add some creativity to the game plan and maybe step outside of the normal Redskin analytics of running on first down pretty much every set of new downs. If you keep the Minnesota defense off balance and move the sticks, you can keep control of the tempo and the field position.
The Redskin defense at this point just needs to line up and win some battles. The Minnesota offense will be without its best receiver in Adam Thielen this week, so they will be down a playmaker. That does not however negate that the Skins still have to stop NFL leading rusher Dalvin Cook who currently leads the league with 725 total rushing yards. The problem with stopping Cook is he not only can run, but he can catch out of the backfield if asked to. He must be keyed on and accounted for every down by this Redskin defense.
Normally I would say just go get the quarterback and let the rest take care of itself, but since I know they will not do that, I will say rush four and allow your defensive front to dictate the game, and keep everything in front of you in the secondary. Kirk Cousins has proven he will take what the defense gives him, but he has also proven he will force throws when in pressure situations. The Redskins have to create pressure situations by keeping the Vikings in 3rd and long circumstances.
Basic defensive football will win this game for them or at the very least keep them competitive.
Tackle on the first attempt.
Know what coverage you are in and play your discipline.
Play with an edge.
Beat the man in front of you.
Most importantly, no unnecessary penalties, or unforced errors such as busted coverages downfield.
The Redskins are only 1-6, but they do not want to be embarrassed on national television by the quarterback who they “didn’t want”. Kirk Cousins has a lot of history with the Redskins and I’m sure he hasn’t forgotten. That may be his driving force or it could be to his detriment as he tries to do too much. The Redskins and their fans are hoping for the latter. At the very least, this should be an entertaining game that will include a lot of chippiness. Games like this bring out the best and the worst in people. Which side will the Redskins be on? As you were...
Photo Credit: Washington Redskins