Slow Start Turns Oakland Game Into A "Must Win"

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

A look at how the Redskins 0-3 start has backed them into a corner.

The Redskins had hoped to get out to an early 2-1 or 3-0 start, heading into what looked to be an easy week versus Oakland and a bye week. The thought was the Redskins could be 3-1 or 4-0 and well rested heading into to Dallas with the chance to put a good amount of separation between the Redskins and the rest of the NFC East.

Those plans have clearly changed as the Redskins sit at 0-3 as they prepare to travel out to Oakland, in what has now  become a "must win" game. The Redskins simply can't afford to start out 0-4 and head into their bye. They need something positive if they have any hopes of salvaging the season. Unfortunately that has turned their "easiest" game into one with quite a lot riding on it.

Now winning the NFC East and making the playoffs would be the best way to salvage the season, but really it goes beyond that. The Redskins need to go at least 7-9 if they want to have some hope to build upon for this season. Them finishing 6-10 or worse, would be just too many steps back for this fan base to endure.

(For those in the Playoff camp): Redskins Silver Lining: How to Make the Playoffs in 2013

Saving the season is also about more than just the team's final record. The Redskins need to start winning/producing to stop the negative momentum this team has built up over the first three weeks. It's not just been the fact that they've lost, but how inept and ineffective they have been as a whole.

The Redskins need to get the coaches and players off the hot seat, and that starts with winning in Oakland. If they were to have another poor performance out west, it would be two weeks of stories about where the team is out and their failure to meet expectations. While it would be completely fair game, it would be nice to get back to writing about this team in a positive light.

The Redskins need to make sure though that they don't put too much pressure on themselves and hurt their chances of winning next Sunday. While Oakland may still be the easiest game on their schedule (Giants are making a case for that title), this isn't as inept a team as was originally thought. They are playing their 3rd game tonight versus the Broncos and will likely get crushed, but even if they are blown out the Redskins can't assume a win just yet.

The Raiders rushing attack of QB Terrell Pryor and Darren McFadden looks strong and has given defenses issues the first two weeks. Given how poor the Redskins run defense has been that is an issue to worry about. The Raiders rebuilt defense has performed above expectations so far. They have been very stingy versus the run, and have gotten 9 sacks through the first two games. With the Redskins needing the run to be effective to win, and struggling to protect RGIII these are issues that need to be figured out by next Sunday.

Add in the fact that this is a cross country game, the Redskins are reeling and they are the ones under pressure, and you have a chance for the upset (assuming the Redskins are still favored). The Redskins need to come up with a game plan to stop the Raiders rushing attack and find a way to not abandon theirs. Washington needs to leave it all out there on the field and get creative with their play calling on both sides of the ball. There can be no more excuses or mistakes, if they want to get anything positive out of this season they need to take care of business and get the win.

What do you think? What is the biggest challenge facing the Redskins this week? And what is the positive that can lead them to victory?

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