Looking at last week’s game, Washington cannot afford to start off slowly neither offensively or defensively. Tampa Bay is a team Washington should beat handily. But as the old cliché goes: on any given Sunday. Tampa has a second year quarterback (Josh Johnson) starting his first NFL game, so Greg Blache should be unleashing his defense. RB Derrick Ward is out for the game and RBs Cadillac Williams and Earnest Graham are listed as probable. But keep in mind that Tampa has a decent offensive line, having allowed only 2 sacks and averaging 4.3 yards per rush. Expect Tampa to come out trying to establish the run in order to protect the inexperienced Johnson. Washington’s defense needs to be stiff against the run and force Tampa into second /third and long, forcing the young quarterback Johnson to beat them. Johnson, by the way, is an exceptional athlete and in his senior year (2007) at the University of San Diego he passed for 2,988 YDs, 43 TDs and 1 interception and holds the NCAA (Div. 1-AA) career passing efficiency rating of 176.68. Washington had better not take this kid lightly, having already been burned last week by the Lion rookie Matt Stafford.
Tampa’s glaring weakness has been their defense, especially the run defense which is giving up an average of 187 yards per game. Washington needs to take advantage of that and feed Clinton (50-50 chance of playing) the ball early and often. This will open up the play action passing game giving Campbell a chance to thrive. Zorn should be leery of having Campbell throwing too many underneath patterns because Campbell was intercepted once last week and had two probable interceptions dropped with one possibly being a pick six. Campbell has a tendency to lock onto his receivers and the league is beginning to adjust to that. To minimize some of the red zone futility Washington needs to go up top once they’re inside the fifty. Scoring from outside the twenty will ease some of the pressure off of Zorn and Campbell with regards to the team’s ineffectiveness in the red zone. I anticipate Washington winning big. However, if the game is close late in the 4th quarter and Washington has the ball, keep your eye on Tampa cornerback Ronde Barber. He has an uncanny ability to set up the quarterback during the entire game for a chance at an interception late in the game (kind of Jordanesque). Does the 11/25/2007 game against Tampa ring a bell?