Washington Redskins at Green Bay Packers
Sunday - 1pm on Fox
Packers lead the all-time series 17-13-1
This week's opponent, the Green Bay Packers, lost to the 49ers last week and are going be a hungry and highly motivated team at home in Week 2. In order for the Redskins to win at Lambeau Field, where the Packers only lost one game last year, they MUST do the following:
1) Make Aaron Rodgers very uncomfortable. Ryan Kerrigan, Brian Orakpo, Brandon Jenkins and Darryl Tapp will all have to provide pressure and Jim Haslett will need to order up a steady dose of safety and cornerback blitzes. The folks at ProFootballFocus.com determined back in May that when Rodgers did not have pressure applied to him in 2012, he completed 70.9% of his passes and had a quarterback rating of 113.6. When he did face pressure, his completion percentage tumbled to 49% and his quarterback rating fell to 78.1. (It should be noted that his "under pressure" numbers, while still much lower than the "not under pressure" numbers, rated best in the league.) With the likes of Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb at his disposal, if the Redskins don't have Rodgers double checking his blind side early, he'll be discount double-checking all afternoon.
2) Make Griffin a running threat in the read option. Last Monday, it was apparent that Robert Griffin III was not going to run the ball very much. The Eagles keyed on that and were able to make Alfred Morris less effective. The Redskins have to at least give the perception that Griffin is a threat to be a ball carrier or the Packers will do the same thing.
3) Protect the ball. This seems like a fairly obvious key to victory. However, it bears repeating after the Redskins' offense had three turnovers in their first three possessions last week. Whether they were rusty or sloppy or rusty and sloppy, it really does not matter. That cannot happen if they want to have any chance at all in Green Bay.
4) Make smarter decisions on returns. I'm not sure if this means bringing in another returner or just pounding into Chris Thompson's head that he should never catch a punt inside his own ten yard line. When you have a quarterback who is still trying to get back into the swing of things, putting him in that position will only make him press more. That is when fumbles, bad throws and bad decisions are more likely to happen. Their starting field position will be crucial this week.
5) Get ahead early and then rush Alfred Morris down their throat. Dating back to the start of last season, the Packers have an 11-6 regular season record. However, they are 5-5 when they do not score first and only 2-5 when the opposing team scores the first touchdown. Also, in their five losses last year and their loss last week, the opposing team averaged 32 rushing attempts per game. In their 11 wins, the opposing team averaged just under 24 rushing attempts. If the Redskins can get on the board first, especially with a touchdown, and then control the tempo by running Morris at least 30 times, they give themselves a much better opportunity.
None of this is rocket science and this list is not all encompassing, but if the Redskins can do these very basic things, they will have a great shot at beating the Packers this week.
If not, it will be a long flight back home and there will be a lot more questions to answer next week.