Bengals vs. Redskins: Sketching out a Game Plan for Washington

Brad Gagnon NFL National ColumnistSeptember 20, 2012

ST LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 16:  Quarterback Robert Griffin III #10 of the Washington Redskins warms up prior to the start of the game against the St. Louis Rams at Edward Jones Dome on September 16, 2012 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Despite what the numbers say, Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins are about to experience their biggest challenge thus far against a defense that is steady from front to back. Throw in that on defense they won't have Brian Orakpo and Adam Carriker in their home opener, and the Redskins could be under a lot of heat in Week 3.

A few suggestions...

Mix it up on offense

The 'Skins might get Pierre Garcon back, but there's a good chance he sits out again due to that foot injury. So the game plan on offense should remain fluid, but Washington should maintain balance anyway because the Cincinnati defense doesn't have a particular weak spot.

The Bengals had trouble against Joe Flacco in Week 1 and let Brandon Weeden look half-decent in Week 2, but they should benefit greatly from the expected return of the underrated Carlos Dunlap. 

Washington should assume that Dunlap will beef up the Cincinnati pass rush and Robert Griffin III has already been taking far too many hits. Alfred Morris and Evan Royster have to be factors against a run D that has struggled already with Ray Rice and Trent Richardson.

It's important to remember that defenses will continue to adjust to Griffin as more tape gets out. Mike Zimmer will undoubtedly have a solid plan in place, so the 'Skins have to keep the Bengals off-kilter. 

Give Tyler Polumbus some more help

Chris Long had a field day with the Redskins' right tackle in Week 2, and I believe I've mentioned a few times recently that Griffin is getting rocked far too often. Washington can't win without Griffin, and the offense can't succeed Sunday unless he has more room to work. 

It won't get any easier for Polumbus with Dunlap lining up on the opposite side, so Washington absolutely has to give him more help than it did in St. Louis. 

Griffin can also help himself by checking down and/or throwing more screens, just as he did early in Week 1 against the Saints.

Sick Josh Wilson on Andrew Hawkins in the slot

I know the Redskins want to utilize DeAngelo Hall's skills in the slot, but I can see Hall getting burned often by sneaky Bengals rookie receiver Andrew Hawkins, who has actually been the team's most productive receiver thus far in 2012.

To some, it might seem illogical to take Wilson—who's been one of the league's best cornerbacks this year—off of A.J. Green, but Wilson might be good enough to deal with Hawkins all on his own. Under this plan, Washington would be robbing the Bengals of their secret weapon while making sure to provide help for Cedric Griffin and/or DeAngelo Hall and/or Richard Crawford.

I don't think the Redskins are going to do this, but it's something I'd consider adjusting to if they're struggling with Cincinnati's passing game early. Remember, the pass rush is going to be shorthanded, so they're going to have their hands full.