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What They Should Be Thinking Today: Washington Redskins

ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 16: Robert Griffin III #10 of the Washington Redskins jokes with head coach Mike Shanahan also of the Washington Redskins during pre-game warm ups prior to playing against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome on September 16, 2012 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
Brad Gagnon NFL National ColumnistSeptember 24, 2012

In an attempt to get inside the heads of NFC East teams, we occasionally take a step back by looking at what each squad should be thinking at any given point. After another tough loss to Cincinnati, here's what should be going through the Washington Redskins' heads.

 

There's a clear formula for how to beat us

So long as we can't get a very strong pass rush, our mediocre secondary will continue to get destroyed by opposing offenses. They know we play a lot of man, and they know where our rush is going. When we attempted to mix it up with a cover-0 blitz Sunday, Andy Dalton made us pay with a big touchdown pass. There's really no way of avoiding it.

We have to beat teams by winning track meets. In other words, we might have to become the opposite of a bend-but-don't-break defense. Let's take as many chances as we can in order to make game-changing plays on D and accept the fact that we're going to get beat a lot in the process. 

The goal on defense should be to get the ball into the end zone or get it into Robert Griffin III's hands as often as we can. This offense hasn't been this explosive in decades, which means we'll have opportunities to stick around with anyone.

Remember: We trailed Cincinnati 24-7 before making it a game with 17 uninterrupted points in the second and third quarter. 

We might be in last place in the NFC East, but we're still only one game out of first. And when you consider that we've been in all three games we've played until the final drive, that bodes well for our chances of sticking around this year.  

It sucks that everyone seems to know how to exploit our weaknesses, but smart teams use that perception to their advantage. There are ways around this, and we'll stick around with this offense.

 

That means Robert Griffin III will keep taking hits

We can't just throw in the towel on 2012, and if we're going with an all-or-nothing mentality that will require us to score 30 points every Sunday, we're going to have to sacrifice Griffin's ability to stay clean.

We don't want to see our franchise quarterback get hurt, but we don't have much of a choice but to go all in. We believe Robert understands that.

That doesn't mean we won't continue to maintain a balanced attack on offense while giving Griffin the ability to make quick throws and check down often. But our philosophy has to be an aggressive one. If the gamble doesn't pay off and RG3 has to miss some time and our season goes down the drain, so be it.

One caveat is that we're approaching the rest of 2012 with this mentality because our hands are tied. Next year, we have to be better prepared for things by shoring up the secondary and the offensive line. And the return of Brian Orakpo won't hurt, either.

 

Jim Haslett's job is safe

We gave him a vote of confidence with a contract extension last week, and we continue to have faith in this regime. These problems on defense aren't schematic, and the unit has the right attitude. This is all about a lack of talent, which has nothing to do with Haslett and actually very little to do with Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan. 

Those salary-cap sanctions did a number on this team, unfortunately, and it'll take a little bit longer than expected to bring everything together. This season, we'll find out if Richard Crawford, Jarvis Jenkins, Rob Jackson and DeJon Gomes are potential long-term options, and then we'll bolster the entire unit in the offseason. 

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