The Redskins finished the 2015 season on an extremely high note. After a 3-5 start, Kirk Cousins led the Redskins to a 6-2 finish. A dominating performance against the Eagles secured the first playoff appearance for Washington in three years. Though the team will facing a lower seed in the playoffs, the Packers have a strong 10-6 record. It will be a tough matchup for Washington but here are three keys to success. (Shout out to DJ Khaled)
- Young Middle Linebackers Need to Step Up
Keenan Robinson, the original starter, has started once since week nine due to injury. Originally backing him up was Perry Riley Jr., who has also not appeared for five games. After taking over, Will Compton has been averaging an impressive 10 solo tackles a game, while Riley only mustered three. Mason Foster, a free agent acquisition, has also made a positive mark on the Redskins’ defensive efforts. What is intriguing about these two is how hard they play. Versus the Eagles both young backs played very well versus the run due to their ability to anticipate the snap count as well as shedding blocks. Since the pair started together five weeks ago, Washington has not allowed a 100 yard rusher. Though not a MLB, Preston Smith has to improve in his containment of quarterbacks. One negative aspect of Compton and Foster’s game in their pass coverage. Though Compton had an interception while facing the Cowboys, he has received generally low grades from Pro Football Focus in the passing game. If they can in the coverage facet, their linebacking core could provide to an anchor to a deep playoff run.
- Secondary Needs to Play Average
As of late, Washington defensive backs have stepped up when faced with adversity. Quinton Dunbar, an undrafted wide receiver out of Florida, held Eli Manning in check and finished a must win game with two pass deflections, as well as an interception. Deangelo Hall recently transitioned to safety. In this new role, he has proved to be an asset in run defense, and returned a fumble for a touchdown in week 16. Lastly, 2nd year corner Bashaud Breeland, has been an underrated threat for the Redskins. While receiving consistently high grades from Pro Football Focus, the 2nd year corner has also posted career bests in pass deflections, forced fumbles, and run stuffs. Given the strengths of Washington’s defensive line and linebackers, the secondary just needs to be ordinary versus Aaron Rodgers.
- Kirk Cousins Needs to Continue to Generate “You like that!” material
Since week 7 Kirk Cousins has put up numbers of MVP grade. In this span he has thrown 20 touchdowns opposed to 3 interceptions, and a 116.3 QBR, which would be best in the NFL. Not of all the season was impressive due to a rough start which included four multi-interception games. If we continue to see the quarterback that has appeared the past nine weeks, the Redskins could upset Green Bay this week. Again, and again the fourth year QB has proven that he can carry the team to a win. Against the Packers the game plan should be to simply unleash Cousins.