In the week before the Redskins played the St. Louis Rams, a lot of Redskins fans were assuming victory. Yours truly predicted a 27-20 win for Washington, and the majority of comments on my article said the Redskins would win by at least 20.
We all saw what happened. The Redskins surrendered over 450 yards of offense and fell 31-28.
In Week 4, the Redskins will face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the casual fan could consider it a breeze of a game for the burgundy and gold. And why not? The Bucs finished 4-12 last year, have a bad offense and a suspect passing defense.
But don't just look at the stats when you consider how Sunday's game might play out.
The Buccaneers have a capable young quarterback in Josh Freeman, two dynamic wide receivers in Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams, a solid tight end in Dallas Clark and two good running backs in Doug Martin and LeGarrette Blount.
On defense, Gerald McCoy is coming into his own in the Bucs' 4-3 alignment, Aqib Talib and Ronde Barber are still ball hawks and Mark Barron is turning into a superb rookie safety.
So while the Bucs are 1-2 with only 60 points scored, it's silly to consider that the Redskins could handle them.
This is particularly true when you consider the performance of the Redskins defense. In a word, it's been awful. The front seven can't generate pressure on the quarterback and the maligned secondary can't cover receivers that are running circles around them. It's hard to imagine DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson finding a way to stop both Williams and Jackson, let alone the linebackers stopping Dallas Clark.
Who will win on Sunday?
There are a lot of variables to consider when going up against an offense like Tampa Bay's.
Josh Freeman is a very good quarterback when he has time, and his dual threat ability throws a wrench in the game plan. The Redskins will have to spy him often, meaning that Clark will have a matchup advantage over the middle and the Bucs will have a dynamic play-action attack.
The only hope for Washington on defense will be to pressure Freeman without sending too many blitzes.
This will give the secondary some time to organize itself and force some bad throws. DeAngelo Hall needs to be physical with Vincent Jackson and keep him from finding space downfield and the Redskins can't get flustered if Freeman beats them with his legs. There are adjustments that can be made, but those adjustments will be worthless if Washington's defense mentally checks out.
It will be a tough, physical game on Sunday, and hopefully the Redskins can come out with a hard-fought victory.