It's been a difficult week for the Washington Redskins and their fans. After a spirit-lifting win against the New Orleans Saints in Week 1, it all came crashing down this past Sunday against the St. Louis Rams after bone-headed errors and injuries brought the 'Skins back to earth.
Not all hope is lost, though! The Redskins are finally playing at home for the first time in the 2012 season against the Cincinnati Bengals. Even without their best pass-rusher, Brian Orakpo, the Redskins still have high hopes for the rest of the season.
The Bengals were a playoff team a year ago, but so far it looks like they are off to a very inconsistent season. The same could be said for the Redskins, so when you mix the two together, there could be some explosive results.
This team is not unbeatable, but they are certainly not to be taken lightly. Last year's version of the Bengals seems similar to this year's Redskins squad. There are some tips on how to beat the pesky Jungle Cats, and I'm going to help out.
Contain Andrew Hawkins
If I see another repeat of what happened with Danny Amendola last week, I may be part of the mob that wants to see Jim Haslett get a pink slip. Hawkins has a lot of speed, and if he can get open, he's always a threat to take it all the way to the house.
Many people concentrate deep on A.J. Green, who is the Bengals' best receiver, but if you can get a safety over the top of him, you can still contain his freakish athleticism and leaping abilities.
Hawkins, on the other hand, is a burner. His 50-yard touchdown against Cleveland last week proved that all he needs is a bit of a hole, and all of a sudden the Bengals just put six on the scoreboard.
Also, don't forget about Armon Binns, Brandon Tate and Jermaine Gresham. The Bengals happen to have some depth at receiver that the Redskins don't have in the secondary, but if you can stop their top guy and contain their second guy, you can stop the chains from moving.
Find Ways to Pressure Andy Dalton
So Brian Orakpo is out for the year. That's bad. Haslett and the Redskins defense are going to have to get extra creative with Ryan Kerrigan remaining as their lone threat as a pass-rusher from the linebacker position, so you better believe the Bengals will be focused exclusively on him.
The Redskins can get tricky with DeAngelo Hall on a corner blitz or even coming up with packages that allow newcomer Jarvis Jenkins to get into the backfield. Either way, if Dalton is going to have all day to throw against a secondary that made Danny Amendola look like a Hall of Famer, it's going to be a long afternoon for the Redskins, even if the offense has been able to put up points this year.
Get Alfred Morris Going
So far, so good for the Alfred Morris experiment. He's survived the Mike Shanahan running back flip-flop festival seemingly longer than any other Redskins running back.
Morris averaged over five yards-per-carry against the Rams, but was limited to only 16 carries. If he's able to keep up a good average close to that five yards again, that will take a lot of pressure off of the passing game and eat up some valuable clock, as the defense can't afford to be on the field for very long.
It will also be essential to let Morris work the ball down the field, because if he's running the ball, it means that someone else isn't running the ball. Which leads me to my next point...
Don't Let Robert Griffin III Get Hurt
Countless times in the last game against St. Louis, I held my breath as RG3 decided to take off running and took a hit that would knock a normal man out of a game and possibly a career.
We all know Griffin is not a normal man, but he's also not invincible. The Redskins have to do a much better job at picking up blitzes. As confident as I am in Griffin's ability to escape pressure and make an amazing play with either his arm or legs, he can only do it so much before it comes back to bite him.
We've seen what this team looks like without Griffin (not good), and what it looks like with him. The Redskins have actually put up points this year! Do we really want to see them go back to the days of celebrating just because the Rex Grossman-led Redskins broke the 20-point barrier?
So just don't let this man get slaughtered. I'm begging you.
This means the backs picking up blitzes, Trent Williams not completely ignoring his man, and a more balanced run game with Morris called by Kyle Shanahan.
How Will The Redskins Fare on Sunday?
No More Penalties
Out of the 32 NFL teams, the Redskins are first in just one category. Unfortunately that category is most penalties per game with 11.5. That's two more per game than the second-place Philadelphia Eagles.
The most egregious penalty happened last week, when Joshua Morgan tossed the ball at a Rams' defender to take the Redskins out of field-goal range on an attempt that would have tied the game. So far the Redskins have gotten a bit nippy, and it looks like they are trying to get into the other teams' heads a bit too much.
You may call it swagger, but I call it stupidity. It could have been what ultimately cost them last week, and if it continues, heads will undoubtedly roll (figuratively, hopefully). It's already gotten bad enough to the point where some idiotic fans are tweeting Josh Morgan death threats.
And that was just Week 2. Let's keep it civil, Skins Nation.