Washington Redskins vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Keys to the Game
With Sunday's Redskins-Bucs game blacked out locally in the Tampa Bay area, fans will miss out on an opportunity to see one of the brightest young stars of the game in Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III
Griffin III has been nothing short of spectacular through his first three professional games, completing better than 67 percent of his passes, while throwing for nearly 800 yards, four touchdowns and just one interception.
Oh, and he's ran for another 209 yards and three touchdowns.
In short, the Bucs defense will have their hands full with the Heisman Trophy-winning signal caller throughout the afternoon.
With that, let's take a closer look at the keys for the Bucs to succeed in Sunday's game.
Play disciplined defense
This is a classic matchup between two teams with opposite strengths.
The Redskins have the second-best rushing attack in the league, averaging 180.7 yards per game on the ground. Meanwhile, the Bucs come in with the NFL's best rush defense, surrendering just 47.3 yards per contest.
RGIII's athletic ability is well-documented and something the Bucs have surely game planned for throughout the week. However, running back Alfred Morris has shown himself to be equally worthy of extra attention by opposing defenses, as he has rushed for 263 yards and three touchdowns this season.
If the Bucs can remained disciplined and control the line of scrimmage, it could force the 'Skins to become one-dimensional offensively, thus putting RGIII in a position where he has to beat them with his arm.
Prevent "chunk yards" on defense; look for opportunities to strike downfield on offense
The Redskins offense is capable of putting up points with relative ease, scoring an NFL-best 33 points per game. Conversely, their defense has shown itself incapable of preventing being scored against, allowing an NFL-worst 33.7 points per game.
In fact, the 'Skins have allowed 16 plays of 20-plus yards and four plays of 40-plus yards already this season. However, the Bucs have allowed 17 and five, respectively.
Translation: take away the big play defensively, capitalize on big play opportunities offensively.
With much being made about Josh Freeman and his continued struggles with consistency, he could go a long way to making up for last weekend's disaster by hitting a few 'home runs' on Sunday.
Especially considering big-money receiver Vincent Jackson only caught one pass last week.
Effectively use both Doug Martin and LeGarrette Blount
Doug Martin has yet to provide the Bucs offense with much in the way of brilliance, averaging just 3.4 yards per carry and having scored only one touchdown on the ground.
The fans—and guard Carl Nicks—are clamoring for the Bucs to use more of LeGarrette Blount, who had a brief cameo appearance in last week's loss to Dallas and has only carried the ball seven times this season.
While the Bucs should be given credit for sticking to their game plan of pounding the rock, they shouldn't be content with only getting three yards at a time.
That is where Blount comes in.
The Bucs should look to mix in Blount and Martin, as both are complimentary to one another. Martin is quicker and more-agile, while Blount is a tougher, between-the-tackles type runner. And if during the course of the game one back gets hot, the Bucs should ride the wave of momentum as far as it'll take them.
Effectively using both could not only wear down the 'Skins defense, but would keep RGIII and the high-powered Washington offense off the field.
Protect quarterback Josh Freeman
Who should be Tampa Bay's featured back?
As noted above, Freeman has struggled this season. Not only with consistency, but accuracy and mechanics, as well. Truth be told, a lot of that can be traced back to the performance of his offensive line.
Last week, Freeman was under constant assault by Dallas' defense, which led Freeman to rushing throws or attempting passes while fading or drifting in the pocket. A strong performance by the Bucs' running game would do wonders for alleviating pressure from Freeman's shoulders.
Not only that, but if the Bucs establish the run early, it could cause the 'Skins to put an extra man (or two) in the box, thus leaving receivers Mike Williams and Vincent Jackson alone on the outside and in position for quick strikes downfield.
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