This season has been an abomination on the field and off. There has been more drama discussed than football since training camp and it has carried over into the season. Offensive tackle Trent Williams reported back to the Redskins and questions about his reasons for being absent resurfaced. All of this news has overshadowed the fact the Redskins play the 5-2 Buffalo Bills this Sunday in a more than winnable game. The Buffalo Bills have been one of the most surprising teams this season. Last week, they were defeated by the Philadelphia Eagles in convincing fashion and this week will be looking to get back to their winning ways against a struggling Redskins’ team that can’t seem to get out of its own way.
The Skins hope their fortunes change as rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins will be receiving the first start of his NFL career. It is a lot to ask of Haskins to start his first NFL game against one of the top defenses in the league, but with Case Keenum out with a concussion, the time is now for young “Simba”. Expect head coach Bill Callahan, and offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell to take a lot of pressure off of Haskins by running the football an excessive amount. The Bills are 18th in the league stopping the run which means they are average at best. This makes them susceptible to being run against on Sunday.
Contrarily, the Bills have been stellar against the pass all season and are currently ranked the third best pass defense in the league statistically. The Redskins should run the ball an immense amount Sunday, but they should not be predictable as I have consistently stated over the last few weeks. They do not want to put Haskins in a situation where he has to face a lot of 3rd down and long circumstances. That will play right into the Bills strength, which is their pass defense, and they will feast on this offense. The Redskins need to shorten the game by using first down passes and misdirection to keep the Bills defense off balance, and to keep the pressure off of Haskins. Haskins does however have the ability to throw downfield, so the Redskins will need to mix in opportunities to take shots to his former Ohio State teammate, Terry McLaurin, who seems to be the only Redskin capable of consistently getting open.
The Buffalo Bills defense is one of the more non-entertaining things you will ever watch on television. If the Redskins are poor offensively, then the Bills are just a half of a notch better than that. Quarterback Josh Allen has been the epitome of what average looks like at the quarterback position, albeit, in his last three games he has thrown for 6 touchdowns and only one interception. On the flip side, Allen has not thrown for 300 yards in a single game all season long. The Bills are a team that likes to grind it out on the ground with 36 year old Frank Gore, and pick its places in the passing game with receiver Josh Brown who is on pace for 1,000 yards this season. The Redskin defense will be facing a similar dynamic as they did against the San Francisco 49ers in that there is no secret where the Bill’s offense is going; that’s straight ahead. With the strength of the Redskins’ defense being their defensive line, this matchup should prove favorable. If the Redskin defensive front can establish the line of scrimmage, it will force Allen to throw more and create opportunities for the defensive backs to make plays. The Redskin defense has been competing since Bill Callahan has taken over as head coach, but this week, they need to take another step in sustaining a high level of play for 4 quarters and not coming out in the second half flat as they have in previous games.
The old saying goes “styles make fights”. The Redskins will be in a fight against a team who they matchup on paper very well with. They go against a Bills team that isn’t overly explosive nor very dynamic offensively. What they are is well coached, and very efficient albeit they will give the Redskins some chances to capitalize on some of their mistakes.
Will the Redskins be able to make the in-game adjustments necessary to give them a legitimate shot at winning on Sunday?
Will Dwayne Haskins show some poise and look more polished as an NFL quarterback after a full week of practice?
Will the Redskins limit the number of unforced errors they accrue that kill drives?
I think if you are asking “can” these things take place, the answer is a resounding YES, but if you’re asking “will” these things take place, your optimism is at a minimum. The great thing about the NFL is anything can happen on any given Sunday, and Redskin fans are hoping this is their “given Sunday”. As you were...