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Redskins-Lions: 4 Keys To The Game

Posted Sep 19, 2013

Redskins.com's Brian Tinsman breaks down the key players and matchups to keep an eye on during Sunday afternoon's Redskins-Lions battle at FedExField in Landover, Md.

Redskins.com's Brian Tinsman breaks down the key players and matchups to keep an eye on during Sunday afternoon's Redskins-Lions battle at FedExField in Landover, Md.

“Redskins-Packers: 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.


JUST WIN, BABY

While that may seem inherent, the late Raiders owner Al Davis said it right when he coined the phrase, 'Just win, baby.' The point is not supposed to be profound; it's supposed to reflect a business-like attitude that every man, woman and child on the home sideline should have this Sunday. Robert Griffin III called it swagger, and that's what this team has been lacking in the first two contests this season.

The Redskins return home to play a team in the Detroit Lions that have not beaten the Redskins on the road in 76 years, when they beat the Boston Redskins at Fenway Park. Now is no time to lose a good streak like that.

Weeks 1 and 2 have been humbling for a team that came in unprepared after looking unstoppable to close out the 2012 season. Obviously the offensive gameplan has been hindered by Robert Griffin III's brace and recovery, but the coaching staff insists the quarterback is cleared to run the entire playbook.

If that's the case, let's see it in action.

Get back to the read-option attack. The team has struggled mightily to sustain drives because the personnel is not ideally suited for a drop-back-and-pass scheme. Griffin III is under constant pressure in the pocket, and the Eagles and Packers both used the blitz to disrupt the passing game. Don't let the Lions dictate anything this Sunday; go out and run the offense that made you a top-five unit last year. This should allow everyone to get back on track on both sides of the ball.

ALL-DAY ALFRED

One week after registering his worst game (12 carries, 45 yards, two fumbles, touchdown), Redskins running back Alfred Morris turned in one of the finest of his career.

Getting only 13 carries, Morris made the most of it, twice carrying the ball 32 yards and finishing the day with 107 yards for a career-best 8.2 yards per carry.

If the Redskins had been competitive vs. Green Bay, Morris may have had more trouble finding open running lanes. Then again, Morris also would have been on the field for more plays before the team switched to the 2-minute offense.

Either way, he'll be ready to roll in Week 3.

A successful running game allows the Redskins to do many things on offense, not the least of which is sustaining drives and converting third downs. So far, the Redskins rank 31st in the NFL with a 24-percent conversion rate on third down. The only team worse than the Redskins is the Cleveland Browns. Enough said there.

The other key that the Redskins must addresss this week is improving on the 27:26 average time of possession through two games. While this number may seem only slightly less than 30 minutes even, it adds up to 41:04 over the course of a 16-game schedule. That's essentially the defense playing three more quarters than the offense over the course of the season.

That's not a good recipe for success.

The Redskins have a chance to close that gap with a strong running game this Sunday. Especially with Lions running back Reggie Bush still ailing, the Redskins have a chance to control the clock and dictate the pace of the game with No. 46 toting the rock.

RELEASE THE KER-RAKPO

Last week against the Green Bay Packers, the Redskins collected three sacks in a quarter for the first time since 2009, with Ryan Kerrigan collecting on back-to-back plays and Brian Orakpo jumping in late.

The Redskins were most successful when the pass rush was hitting home last week, but managed little pressure and no sacks when the Packers switched to a three-step drop. The results were historically significant for both teams, and not in the good way for the Redskins.

Coming home to FedExField should build the type of atmosphere this defense needs to get their confidence back. With Barry Cofield (hand) recovering quickly from injury and two of the best outside linebackers in the league, the Redskins need to collapse the pocket and get after Matthew Stafford.

Megatron can't catch any passes if his quarterback is on the sod.

BUTTON UP SPECIAL TEAMS

Last week was a dismal performance for Redskins special teams, as punter Sav Rocca struggled to boom the ball deep, and on plays where he downed the ball at the 10-yard line, foolish penalties negated the placement.

Things weren't much better in the return game, where rookie Chris Thompson is averaging just 19.2 yards per kick return and 4.7 per punt return. Sometimes these things are situational, but the blocking and decision-making needs to improve to create better situations.

On kickoffs, John Potter was an able-bodied replacement for the injured Kai Forbath, but his missed field goal hurt on the scoreboard and in the battle for field position. That was the second missed field goal of the year, with Forbath uncharacteristically missing in Week 1 as well.

Fortunately, the game boiled down to much bigger issues than special teams mistakes, but such errors will not make earning the first win any easier. Time to fine-tune the mechanics and create some running lanes on the return.

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