Washington Redskins: 10 Keys to Victory Against the New York Giants

Tom NataliCorrespondent IOctober 19, 2012

Washington Redskins: 10 Keys to Victory Against the New York Giants

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    The NFC East is for the New York Giants' taking. They are the defending champions; Eli Manning is playing at an MVP level, and their pass rush could give opposing offenses nightmares.

    On the contrary, the Washington Redskins handedly beat the Super Bowl champions twice last year with starters such as Rex Grossman, Willie Smith, Maurice Hurt, Donte’ Stallworth and Rocky McIntosh.

    Based off of that personnel, the Redskins are going into New York with expectations of extending their winning streak against the Giants.

    However, I can only assume that the Giants are going to be coming with a huge chip on their shoulder after two embarrassing losses.

    The 'Skins have had to wait for seven weeks to face a division opponent, and words cannot express the importance of division play.

    You want to go to the playoffs? Beat your division opponents. That has been a fundamental issue for the Redskins for over a decade.

    When it comes down to it, do I think the Redskins will win this game? I do not (of course, I hope I’m wrong), but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a shootout come Sunday afternoon.

    Truth be told, the Giants are a better football team than the Redskins. While the Redskins are aiming towards relevancy, the Giants have aspirations to defend their Super Bowl title.

    Either way, this will be a close contest—just like most NFC East matchups. Below are my 10 keys for the Redskins to earn the upset victory.

Prevent the Big Play

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    Eli Manning and Victor Cruz have had a field day torturing defenses throughout the league.

    Over the past two games, the Redskins have adjusted their game plan, and the dreadful big play hasn’t occurred since (knock on wood).

    Even though giving up underneath passes can certainly be frustrating, if that keeps Cruz and the rest of the Giants receivers from breaking the game open, then that should be considered a success.

    To avoid falling to 3-4, Jim Haslett will need to eliminate this possibility.

The Special-Teams Unit Needs to Make a Play

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    I’m getting frustrated with Brandon Banks doing his best Antwaan Randle El impressions on punt returns. In order to beat the Giants, Banks needs to set the tone for the offense.

    I’m not saying he needs to take one to the house, but giving Robert Griffin III and the offense good field position can be a vital aspect to their potential success.

Having a Well-Balanced Offense

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    This needs to remain the status quo. Kyle Shanahan has effectively used a combination of both the run and pass throughout the year.

    By having a well-balanced offense, it will be harder for the Giants defense to predict what plays the Redskins will be running.

    I would expect a heavy dose of Alfred Morris as he continues to be the workhorse this season.

Force Turnovers

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    The defense has come under much scrutiny this season—and justifiably so. That being considered, they have found a way to force crucial turnovers.

    Last week, Madieu Williams was the next man up. That’s four defensive touchdowns this season. To me, that’s incredible and something I couldn’t have ever predicted.

    Of course, Eli Manning is having a stellar season, but he’s been prone to a few boneheaded mistakes—as he had last year against the Redskins.

    The Giants are going to put up points; they’ve been doing it all season, and I expect them to do the same against the depleted Redskins secondary.

    With that being said, if the defense can force a couple turnovers like they have all season, then that would only increase their chances of winning.

Control the Time of Possession

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    Keeping Eli Manning and his offense off the field as much as possible is going to be a difficult task. Controlling the time of possession is imperative to the outcome of the game, just ask the Falcons in their win at FedEx Field from two weeks ago.

    To control the possession of the clock, the Redskins will have the run the ball effectively and compliment that with efficient passing from Robert Griffin III, thus bleeding the game clock as much as possible.

    The fact that this remains achievable without Pierre Garcon is hard to believe. Aldrick Robinson has been non-existent since Week 1. Santana Moss is undervalued in this offense. Josh Morgan has been most effective as a blocker, and Leonard Hankerson continues to confuse me.

    I don’t know how they have done it so far, but this offense continues to move the ball without a top-tier wide receiver.

Improve 3rd-Down Offense

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    As good as the Redskins offense has been, the team’s third-down play has been atrocious.

    It’s been a combination of predictable play-calling and a lack of execution on the offense. Oh, and having an inferior offensive line doesn’t make it easy.

    This was certainly improved last week against Minnesota—a Vikings team that has a very good defense. However, it needs to get better.

    As intimidating as the Giants pass-rushers are, their overall defense is vulnerable if Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora aren’t applying consistent pressure to the offense.

    Obviously, if RG3 has enough time, he’ll make the play.

Keeping RG3 Upright

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    One week ago, Redskins Nation was holding their breath as we were awaiting Griffin’s prognosis. All it took was a 76-yard touchdown run, and now, that’s all forgotten.

    The Redskins coaches need to remain conscientious of Griffin’s health. That said, Trent Williams will have to continue to at his Pro Bowl rate, as he’s going to be tested through all four quarters.

    Tyler Polumbus is clearly a marginal offensive tackle at best, so I can only assume that the right side of the line will be attacked. I would expect a heavy dose of Evan Royster to help in pass protection to remedy that.

Don't Get Cute, Kyle Shanahan

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    I’ve been very complimentary of Kyle Shanahan this season. He’s adapted his offense to the talent that he has and included college style offenses into the professional game—something that was considered unrealistic until recently.

    Despite the fact that Kyle Shanahan is working his way to becoming an NFL head coach one day, he tends to get a little too “cute” at times.

    For example, there have been three games when the 'Skins have had a substantial lead, yet they haven’t been able to protect it. That’s where the offensive coordinator struggles.

    He’s cut down on his excessive use of screen passes, which is an improvement, but he gets a little too play-action happy in the fourth quarter. This also applies to his now-predictable pitches to Alfred Morris, which the Vikings read like a book.

Pressure Eli Manning

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    Just like any quarterback, if you pressure him, mistakes will follow. This has been a concern since Brian Orakpo went out with a torn pectoral.

    Ryan Kerrigan continues to be a reliable defender, but he has lacked consistent pressure on quarterbacks. After Lorenzo Alexander’s game last Sunday, it appears that the Chris Wilson and Rob Jackson experiment will be drastically diminishing.

    Perry Riley has shown that he can blitz effectively, so don’t be surprised to see Jim Haslett roll the dice on occasion on Sunday.

Get Fred Davis Heavily Involved

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    With Garcon’s foot injury remaining a mystery amongst the Redskins training staff, Fred Davis is the most talented pass-catcher on the roster.

    He’s been a solid contributor, but he hasn’t found the end zone and hasn't been a focal point of the offense, which is what he was last year.

    I consider it to be a combination of the new offense and a lack of chemistry with Robert Griffin III. I continue to wait for Davis to flash his Pro Bowl set of skills like he had last year.

    With the inferior Giants linebacking corps, targeting Fred Davis could be easily attainable in comparison to recent weeks.

    I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention how much Davis’ blocking has improved.