April 24, 2014

Washington Redskins need to take next step to advance past .500

Alfred Morris runs away from the Bucs en route to a TD in Skins 24-22 win. (photo Brian Murphy)

 It was a game the Washington Redskins should have won Sunday, and win they did–despite dramatic closing minutes.

The team’s offense has developed far past functioning–it’s exciting and fairly dependable, something all the more impressive when one remembers key offensive positions are filled by rookies. Alfred Morris, in fact, is top five in the league in rushing.

And while the offensive line has to find ways to keep RGIII from taking too many hits in the backfield, the team’s high rushing numbers show a certain degree of promise in an offensive line’s capabilities.  Case in point: that hole they opened up during Morris’ 39-yard touchdown run Sunday could have fit a small planet.

A downside, of course, are the sacks given up this year–RGIII’s total is up to 11 right now, a stat more troublesome when one remembers how mobile he is. It’s also high compared to the protection most other rookie quarterbacks are receiving. The good news is the number of sacks the Redskins gave up dropped significantly from the horrendous total after the Cincinnati game.

Overall, the next big development for the Redskins is going to be maintaining the leads they’ve managed to build in games. They face some of the league’s top offenses down the stretch, and giving most of those opponents a yard will ensure they’ll walk all over you. Right now, the Redskins can’t seem to keep a solid lead, as witnessed in the second half of Sunday’s game against Tampa, and earlier this season in St. Louis–so 50 percent of their season up until this point. With all due respect, since us journalists can barely kick our shoes off in the right direction, do the Redskins really want the fate of their win-loss record riding on the leg of Billy Cundiff?

Speaking of Cundiff, head coach Mike Shanahan indicated the team is not going to go shopping currently at that position, after the kicker went 1-for-4 on Sunday, when he made the one good kick the game winner: “We’re not going to work out any kickers this week.”

Shanahan also wants to address the big plays he feels the Redskins give up and which Tampa capitalized on.

” … [T]wo big plays obviously put them in position for touchdowns. Is it just that simple? Maybe it is. I don’t know, but we can’t give up those plays – for sure if we want to be the type of team we want to be. That’s what we’ll work on,” he said, and went into  more detail on how the team fixes that. “You take a look at everything . Why do they make those plays? That’s what we do when we look at film. We talk about the things that we did to give up those big plays. Is it scheme? Is it personnel? Doesn’t matter what it is. You have to take a look at what players do best and you have to adjust your scheme to fit your personnel. That’s always an ongoing process, both offensively and defensively.”

While the big plays make for good TV, it isn’t good defense, particularly when the opponent’s offense is as weak as Tampa’s is. To go from a talented team to an elite team, the Redskins can’t just build a lead–they have to protect it, too.

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