Washington Redskins: Hail To Em? Five Keys To Them Making the Playoffs

Patrick Clarke@@_Pat_ClarkeCorrespondent ISeptember 30, 2010

Hail to Em?: Five Keys to The Washington Redskins Making The Playoffs

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    ST. LOUIS - SEPTEMBER 26: Donavan McNabb #5 of the Washington Redskins passes against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome on September 26, 2010 in St. Louis, Missouri.  The Rams beat the Redskins 30-16.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    So its been a rather rough start to the season for the Washington Redskins. Reality quickly sunk in after a surprising Week 1 victory over division rival Dallas, as the Redskins dropped two in a row (they could easily be 0-3), including an overtime loss to Houston after leading by 17 points in the second half.

    It is the NFL, and one thing is for sure, go 1-2 in three weeks, and doubters will emerge. There is good news for the Redskins and their fans however, the season is young, and there is still no clear-cut favorite in the NFC.

    Regardless, for the Washington Redskins to make the postseason and have a realistic chance to contend for the Vince Lombardi Trophy, these five things need to happen, and they need to happen soon.

McNabb Must Settle in With The Offense

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    LANDOVER - SEPTEMBER 19:  Donovan McNabb #5 of the Washington Redskins leads the huddle during the game against the Houston Texans at FedExField on September 19, 2010 in Landover, Maryland. The Texans defeated the Redskins in overtime 30-27. (Photo by Lar
    Larry French/Getty Images

    In Week 2 against the Houston Texans, it looked as if Donovan McNabb had figured it out, he completed 28 of 38 passes and threw for over 425 yards and a score, all be it in a loss, the Redskins put 27 points on the scoreboard; not bad for the NFL.

    Just last week however, McNabb and the Redskins offense took a giant step backwards as they could only muster up 16 points in a loss to the lowly St. Louis Rams.

    McNabb finished with an interception and a quarterback rating of 79.7; compared to 119.0 a week prior.

    The good news, Donovan has a few weapons, including Santana Moss (22 receptions), who is emerging as McNabb's go-to-guy, running back Clinton Portis (rushed for over 1200 yards 6 out of last 8 seasons), and seventh-year tight end Chris Cooley.

    But if history tells us one thing, it's that McNabb is pretty consistent, regardless of who is around him in the huddle.

Redskins Must Take Advantage of a Shaky NFC East Division

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 06:  The New York Giants lineup against the Dallas Cowboys on December 6, 2009 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Giants defeated the Cowboys 31-24.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Washington isn't the only team facing tough criticism three weeks into the season, the New York Giants (Super Bowl Champs three years removed), and the Dallas Cowboys (projected by many to win the Super Bowl) are both struggling at 1-2.

    Yes, Philadelphia is looking better week after week, especially quarterback Michael Vick, who has rejuvenated the team with his break away speed and rocket of an arm, but still the Eagles only lead the division by one game.

    It's not exactly the NFC West, but a winnable division nonetheless, and the Redskins are currently undefeated within the division (1-0), so don't put it past them to contend for the crown.

    The key will be how they match up against the Eagles, considering they are the Redskins next two division opponents; they will meet in week 4 in Philadelphia and again in week 10 at FedEx Field,

The Secondary Must Improve

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    LANDOVER, MD - SEPTEMBER 19:  LaRon Landry #30 of the Washington Redskins celebrates a play against the Houston Texans at FedExField on September 19, 2010 in Landover, Maryland. The Texans defeated the Redskins in overtime 30-27. (Photo by Larry French/Ge
    Larry French/Getty Images

    So the good news is the Redskins held the explosive and uber-talented Dallas Cowboys offense to seven points in their season opener.

    The bad news, since Week 1 the Redskins have allowed 30 points a game, and currently hold the honor of being the NFL's worst pass defense (allowing over 423 passing yards per game).

    Those numbers wouldn't be as disturbing if they came against the likes of Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, but to Matt Schaub and rookie Sam Bradford, not OK.

    No disrespect to those guys, but neither one leads an offense capable of doing that much damage, unless of course they were facing a flawed defense.

    With a rush defense currently ranked 11th in the league, and 3 of the top 5 tackle leaders in the league, the Redskins have a lot of positives on the defensive side, however the secondary isn't one of them.

    Free safety Reed Doughty has been a big reason for the struggles.

    It is a team sport, but any Redskins fan will tell you he has looked lost at several points this season; specifically against Dallas on their only touchdown of the game, and the tying touchdown by Andre Johnson in a loss to the Texans.

    Also an important note, a back injury has limited cornerback DeAngelo Hall (29 tackles and 1 forced fumble/recovery touchdown) during practice.

The Albert Haynesworth Saga Must End

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    GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 02:  Defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth #92 of the Washington Redskins stands on the sidelines during preseason NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 2, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Now in his second year with the Redskins, Haynesworth has been more than a headache for the franchise.

    In two games this year, Haynesworth has two tackles, I guess that's what $100 million gets you these days.

    Either way, Haynesworth is a distraction, he brings attention to the team for all the wrong reasons.

    Whether it's two failed physicals in a row, or another radio show rant, Haynesworth has been a problem ever since he landed in DC.

    Whatever the Redskins plan is to deal with Big Albert, it needs to be put into action shortly, because Haynesworth's attitude and behavior are not exactly beneficial to a struggling team.

Redskins Must Show Up in The Second Half

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    LANDOVER, MD - SEPTEMBER 19:  The Washington Redskins defense awaits the snap during the game against the Houston Texans at FedExField on September 19, 2010 in Landover, Maryland. The Texans defeated the Redskins in overtime 30-27. (Photo by Larry French/
    Larry French/Getty Images

    They say it's not how you start, but how you finish, and if you're talking about the Washington Redskins you're exactly right.

    Washington has been outscored in the second half of every game so far this season (46-13), the only second half quarter in which they were not outscored was the fourth quarter against Dallas (WSH 3 DAL 0), but since then they have been outscored 22-0 in the fourth quarter.

    Simply put, not good. Not good at all.

    So it's no surprise that this problem must be fixed in order for the Redskins to even get win No. 2 on the season.

    Drop a comment below on how you see the Redskins doing this season.

    Patrick Clarke is a student at Towson University and a writing intern for Bleacher Report.


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