Redskins.com's Brian Tinsman breaks down the key players and matchups to keep an eye on during Sunday afternoon's Redskins-Chargers battle at the friendly confines of FedExField.
“Redskins-Chargers: 4 Keys To The Game” is presented by Papa John’s.
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PLAY LIKE THERE'S NO THURSDAY
One area where the Redskins have struggled this year is dictating the pace of the game. That starts with the tempo of the offense and extends into ball control, field position and execution.
The Redskins are three games removed from their bye week and have a chance to be at full strength on Sunday afternoon. The Redskins need to take advantage of any rust the Chargers might have, coming off their own bye week and making the 3,000-mile trip to Washington.
The Redskins need to come out of the gate firing on all cylinders. They have won only one coin toss the whole season, but whether through victory, deferral or early turnover, the Redskins need the first opportunity to score. Much like the Eagles game at home and Cowboys game on the road last year, the Redskins need to get the offense rolling and then score as much as possible.
Regardless of what happens on Sunday, the Redskins board a plane bound for Minneapolis on Wednesday afternoon. With just four days between the games, there is very limited preparation time for the Vikings, but the Redskins need to be 100 percent focused on the here and now. Win Sunday and worry about Thursday on Monday.
REACHING CRITICAL PASS
The Washington Redskins beat the Bears by opening up the playbook and passing effectively downfield. The Redskins fall to the Broncos when they can't get the vertical game going.
A small sample size and over-simplistic analogy, but these things are related.
Plain and simple, the Redskins offense needs to get the ball downfield to the playmakers in this offense. This is a receiver group predicated on speed. If they can't get past a defender, then they will have a very tough time wrestling him for the ball.
Most importantly, the Redskins need to get back to fundamentals with catching the balls that are thrown. Only rookie tight end
The Redskins are a good offense when Pierre Garcon is active on the mid-range passing game. The Redskins are a better offense when
The offense is best when the run helps set up the pass, which in turn builds the trademark Shanahan deception and gives the offensive line time enough for
After finishing the season in the middle of the pack with 47 passes of 20-plus yards last year, he has only 22 this season, good for 24th in the NFL. He has only two passes of 40-plus yards, good for 26th in the NFL. These are numbers that must improve in order for the offense to stay balanced and on the field. It starts this Sunday with execution.
PLEASE SIR, I WANT SOME MORRIS
Lost in the disappointment of Sunday's loss to the Denver Broncos, starting running back
He finished the day with a very solid 93 yards on 17 carries, averaging 5.5 yards per carry and scoring his fourth touchdown of the year. Since the bye week, Morris is averaging 5.2 yards per carry, but only 17.3 carries per game. As the team's most effective playmaker, Morris needs a bigger diet of the football, particularly in the second half.
Part of the decision to get away from the running game is dictated by the scoreboard, where offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan has shown a propensity to abandon the running back when trailing in the fourth quarter.
But this is an offense that benefits from Morris drawing defenders closer to the line, whether that leads to opportunities for Griffin III on the ground or through the air. This is the formula that brought success last season, and it's no mystery why.
Any offensive lineman will tell you that it's easier to run-block than pass-protect. When the time comes to pass protect-it is much easier to do that off of deception than standing back and chucking it downfield. That's when the pass rush becomes overwhelming and mistakes happen.
When the going gets tough, turn to the toughest player on the field. Give the ball to Morris.
TURN SPECIAL TEAMS INTO SUPER TEAMS
The Redskins special teams held Broncos Pro Bowl returner Trindon Holliday to just 40 total return yards after averaging nearly 200 yards in each of the previous weeks. This was a big step forward in coverage, but now the focus must shift to the return game.
Just like the Redskins have benefitted from five defensive touchdown this year, the offense needs short fields and quick points off of special teams. Rather than being average, the Redskins need to take the next step and make special teams an asset that this offense can springboard off of.
If the Redskins need proof of that, the Broncos scored the go-ahead touchdown last week off a shanked