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Skins will need a fast start on Sunday

Sep 12, 2008, 7:26 AM EDT

There is one line of thinking that says that the Washington Redskins will have to run the ball well in order to beat the New Orleans Saints at FedEx Field on Sunday. The game plan needs to be Portis right, Portis left and Betts up the middle. The objective is to keep the pressure off of Jason Campbell, let him pick his spots, and to shorten the game to keep the ball out of the hands of Drew Brees, Reggie Bush and company.

Another line of thinking is that the Redskins need to come out of the tunnel passing and to keep it up throughout the game. The game plan needs to be deep to Moss, intermediate to Cooley, and short to whoever breaks open. The objective here is to take advantage of the weak link on the Saints, their pass defense and keep the pressure to produce on Brees, Bush, and company.

The line of thinking here is that whatever the Redskins do they need to start doing it quickly.

The Redskins offense can’t start off slowly again this week. A sack on the game’s opening series would quickly get the team into a “here we go again” frame of mind. A couple of three and outs out of the gate will bring out a strong undertone of boo-birds. A slow, hesitant pace, even in the early going, will rekindle thoughts of the “what, me hurry?” offense the team displayed in the fourth quarter in the Meadowlands.

This doesn’t meant that Campbell needs to launch a deep one to Moss on the first play or that Portis needs to break off a long one in the early going. It does mean that Jim Zorn’s scripted first 15 plays need to work. They need to be imaginative calls that are well executed by the players. Those 15 plays must take place over about a drive and a half, not the first two quarters of play. One of them should result in a touchdown or, at a minimum, set up a field goal.

None of this will do any good, of course, if the Saints go up 10-0 by scoring on their first two possessions. If Brees throws for 300+ yards, something he’s done 14 times as a Saint, it’s unlikely that the Redskins will be able to keep up.

But Brees will get his and for the Redskins to keep the Saints from denting to scoreboard too often they will have to take advantage of opportunities. If a ball is rolling free on the turf they have to dive on it. If they have Brees in their grasp they need to bring him down. It goes without saying after last week that when a defender has two hands on a pass he needs to catch it.

Will the Redskins get off to a quick start and make the defensive plays necessary to win? It says here that while the defense might make its share of plays, the offense—and that’s everyone from the quarterback to the receivers to the backs to the lie—isn’t yet ready to operate in an efficient manner in the WCO.

Saints 17, Redskins 10

  1. Boss Hog - Sep 12, 2008 at 5:33 PM

    Good points, Rich, and a (sadly) plausible prediction.

    I agree with you about the importance of the 15 plays, but I’d emphasize a little more explicitly what you seem to be saying — we need to come out passing. I’m in the second of the two schools you discussed.

    And by passing, I mean on first down, second down, any down. Not every down, obviously, but certainly not only after it’s already 3rd and long. You can bemoan the Skins’ miserable success rate on 3rd down last week, but how many of those situations required more than 7 yards?

    What the Redskins need, more than anything — and what we really haven’t had, I don’t think, since the days of Gary Clark and Art Monk — is a dependable intermediate passing game. People talk about stretching the field with long shots, or the short game of slants and screens, but for my money, the most important, and most successful plays in the passing game are 10-20 yard outs, ins, seams, crossing routes, holes in the zone, etc etc. Those are the plays that move the chains, and those the plays we need to connect on Sunday.

    Obviously it’s easier said than done, but I’d like to see us at least TRY to hit Santana, ARE, and Cooley in those kind of spots. I’ve got my fingers crossed…

  2. Anonymous - Sep 12, 2008 at 8:21 PM

    i think if the game turns out as you predict, with only 10 points scored by the offense, the pressure on zorn and campbell will be excruciating.

    scoring a total of 10 points off a defense that is missing harper, gay and hollis thomas, and with a slowly recovering mckenzie will be a low water mark and a harbinger of worse things to come against philly and dallas in the next few weeks.

    i dont want to see the skins lose, but if they must lose let it be to a saints team that scores 30 against the skins 28..

    we can run on this team, and we should be able to find receivers open against a patchwork secondary that will be relying on an overaged aaron glenn and huge disappointments jason craft and jason david. to not score at least 24 points will require a lot of soul searching and it simply wont be good enough to say it is because the team doesnt have zorn’s offense down yet

    i think this game is clearly winnable and the saints maybe be the early favorite team with the most holes in it i have seen in some time. when earnest graham is capable of running for an average of 9 yards a carry, portis should be able to run for 150 yards. if that happens, campbell need only manage the passing portion of the offense..let’s see if he and the offense can manage that.. Archives

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