Redskins.com's Brian Tinsman breaks down the key players and matchups to keep an eye on during Sunday afternoon's Redskins-Chiefs battle at FedExField.
“Redskins-Chiefs: 4 Keys To The Game” is presented by Papa John’s.
Every Monday, fans can order a large cheese pizza for only $9.99, plus for each touchdown that the Redskins score, fans get one free topping. And with a Redskins victory, fans get double the toppings.
START THE FIRE
In a season of confounding statistics, one of the more straight-foward numbers is when and how the Redskins are able to score points--or not.
The Redskins have the No. 7 offense with regards to yardage, and the No. 1 rushing attack in the NFL. Those numbers should be a point of pride, until one considers that the scoring offense is 19th in the league.
Here are a few reasons why:
Special teams has given the offense long fields all season, and the Redskins lead the NFL in drives of more than 50 yards that yield no points (12), including two last week.
The red zone offense has been blamed for an inability to finish drives, but doesn't tell the full story. Technically, the Redskins rank ninth in the NFL, converting nearly 58 percent of red zone trips for touchdowns. Frequently, the drives stall in the 30-40 yard line range, not counting against the red zone stats.
Over the last three games, the Redskins are converting just 28 percent of red zone trips for touchdowns. That's a lot of points left on the field.
The Redskins need to come out rolling on all cylinders, much as they did last week against the New York Giants. It was the first time the Redskins had scored a touchdown on the opening drive in nearly a year, dating back to Week 14 of the 2012 season.
The Redskins have scored only 30 points in the first quarter all season, including a defensive score in Week 1. Come out fast, run the turbo offense and get the early lead. In addition to winning on the scoreboard, it gives the Redskins the chance to win in play-calling and execution as well.
WHY SO SERIOUS?
No matter what the hole on the scoreboard or the team's record, this was a team that believed they could win and turn things around. It is now clear that the Redskins will be playing for pride, momentum and 2014. A very important part of that is mindset.
Last week, Redskins veterans
Those can't happen.
The Redskins need to get back to having fun. When this team--particularly the offense--was able to play loose last year, there was a rhythm and an identity to the offense. That hasn't happened yet this season and the Redskins need to get back to that to ensure a happy, productive offseason build to next year.
TAKE WHAT'S BEEN GIVEN
The mantra for this offense last season was to take what was being given. If there were eight men in the box, run play action and catch the secondary napping. If there was a blitz, run bootlegs, read-option and swing passes against man coverage.
Through lack of execution this year, the Redskins have too often lost the ability to impose poison pills on the defense. Missing the open receiver downfield has cost the Redskins in the aerial attack. Falling behind by double digits has cost opportunities in the running game.
The Redskins have the talent to exploit matchups all over the field, but through lack of recognition and execution, those big plays have been few and far between.
The Kansas City Chiefs have an aggressive defense with a lot of young talent in the front-seven. But the Redskins have to play within themselves and get the ball in the hands of playmakers like Pierre Garcon,
If the Chiefs take away the run, find a way to get the ball in Morris' hands anyway. He has one of the hardest cutbacks on the team and is terrific with the ball in space.
If the Chiefs blitz, use the swing pass and screen to make them pay. Simply put, do not let the Chiefs dictate the flow of the game. Instead, exploit whatever they choose to leave unguarded.
In the final four games of the season, the Redskins will play at least two and possibly three games with playoff implications. The first test comes this week against the Kansas City Chiefs, who rode a perfect start to the season into the Denver Broncos buzzsaw.
Losers of three-straight, the Chiefs are likely to be angry team coming into FedExField this Sunday, motivated to get the all-important 10th win and punch their playoff ticket.
Even coming off of disappointing losses, this game has the makings of a trap game and a hangover game for the Chiefs. The Redskins need to hit them in the proverbial mouth from the beginning and play a physical brand of football.
Wins will do little to cure the pain of a losing season, but they will help restore a team's confidence heading into an important offseason. The Redskins are likely to be undersestimated based on their performance this season, and they have an opportunity to spoil a team's playoff aspirations.
For anyone looking to be a long-term piece in Washington, that has to be a motivating factor for Week 14.