Before we talk about what the Skins need to accomplish against the Rams this Sunday (clearly, a BIG win), we need to talk about how the Rams shouldn’t be overlooked. This isn’t the same team that Pete Kendalled their way to a victory last year.
With a healthy Marc Bulger, an always game Steven Jackson, and a new head coach who has faced the Redskins offense before, the Rams could be looking to repeat last year’s outcome.
If you haven’t clicked away to another article by now (please don’t, stay awhile), you are probably saying aloud, “John, you have got to be kidding me, right?” Of course, I am. The Redskins will win this game. And win big. And here’s why.
Even with a new defensive mindset, brought on by rookie head coach Steve Spagnuolo, a man who has beat the Redskins before, as a defensive coordinator for the New York Giants, the Rams defense is straight up porous.
The Seattle Seahawks manhandled the Rams in 28-0 shellacking at Qwest Field. Matt Hasselbeck, demonstrating complete command of the West Coast offense that Zorn runs in Washington, picked apart the Rams secondary for over 250 yards and three touchdown passes. Even Julius Jones had a big day. He ran for 117 yards and a touchdown. This is the same Julius Jones who has never rushed for more than 94 yards against a Redskins defense.
OK, so we know the Rams defense isn’t very good. That doesn’t mean they don’t have the know-how to beat Jason Campbell and the Redskins offense.
A Spagnuolo-coached defense has beaten a Redskins offense three out of the four times they have squared off. The lone win came in 2007, when the Redskins beat the G-Men to continue their late-season rally into the playoffs. That being said, his defensive players in New York were lights-out scarier than anything Campbell will face on Sunday. Looks like James Laurinaitis will get some tackles (14 in the first game, who does he think he is, London Fletcher?) and Chris Long may get a hustle/coverage sack, but that’s about it.
The Rams defense will come out ready to play—they don’t want to get victimized for the second straight week—but they shouldn’t be a problem for a Redskins offense that is hungrier, maybe even more desperate for a big showing.
I think we all know the Redskins offense needs to show some significant signs of improvement on Sunday. But how much? A lot. If the Redskins don’t run into the locker room at halftime, sporting at least a two touchdown lead, the Skins offense may never get on track. I’m serious. I want to see Marcus Mason picking up some yards in the last few minutes of the fourth quarter, with the Redskins holding a 35-6 lead.
Five touchdowns!? I know that sounds crazy, considering the Redskins have never topped 30 points under Zorn’s offense, but that’s what they need to shoot for. I’ll accept four touchdowns. But the Redskins need to prove to themselves that they can consistently score points with Campbell at quarterback and Zorn running the offense.
An offense that scores on average 16.6 points a game clearly won’t win you many games. That kind of scoring output puts too much pressure on the team’s defense to make something happen. The Redskins defense couldn’t make that much happen last year. They were good, but not good enough to have to overcompensate for the offense.
This year, the defense looks like it will make something happen. More pressure on the quarteback leads to more turnovers, which means better field position and numerous scoring opportunities for the offense.
So what should we expect on Sunday?
We should expect to see some improvement by the offense. It won’t be a 30-point effort like I hope it will be, but it will be enough of an increase to help the team gain some confidence. I look to see the Redskins winning 24-7, coming on two touchdown passes by Campbell and a rushing touchdown by Clinton Portis.
Will it be enough to keep Redskins Nation happy? I don’t know. But I’ll take the win at home.