End the “tanking” talk, head coach Jay Gruden and his players have no intentions of resting starters or packing it up for the season. The Redskins have four games left this year. Washington will use these games to make their phantom (because they have less than a two percent chance) playoff push, evaluate key players in an environment where the season is likely over, shape their strategy regarding offseason priorities, and much more.
Last week against the Dallas Cowboys, multiple self-imposed errors were committed by Washington in a clear-cut must-win situation. The “self-imposed errors” part has been a season-long theme that has hurt Washington in numerous games. From lousy clock management to dropped passes, fumbles, missed blocking assignments, constant breakdowns in coverage, and bad special teams play. Outside of injuries, which are a legitimate reason, these mental mistakes have directly impeded their chances of a post-season appearance.
Nonetheless, the Redskins are on the road this week against the surging Los Angeles Chargers. Winners of three straight, and six out of their last eight, the Chargers are in a position where they view the Redskins as just another opponent in the way of their division title chances after a 1-4 start.
The Chargers offense is ranked ninth in the league in yards per game, but I believe it plays well into Washington’s strength. The Redskins secondary is a solid unit, and the Chargers have the second-best passing attack in the league, strength versus strength matchup. What is a potential issue when facing the Chargers is rushing the passer, as Phillip Rivers is the least sacked quarterback in the NFL, and Melvin Gordon is one of the better backs in the NFL. The Redskins weakness is defending the run, especially against premier backs. Washington's defense will have their hands full overall, but the positive is defensive coordinator Greg Manusky, former Chargers LB coach and DC, has some familiarity with how Phillip Rivers plays.
The Chargers boast a top ten offense in yards per game, but defensively, there is an area to exploit them. Samaje Perine can have another solid game on the ground, as the Chargers are the second-worst run defense in the NFL. Perine has been a valuable piece to the offense since the third quarter of the season started, the opposite of what he appeared to be the first half of the season. Offensively, for the Redskins to be successful and limit the mental errors, it will be critical for the unit to run the ball efficiently with a back who has found his groove.
The Redskins have had an underwhelming season to this point, for a variety of reasons, but they still have some games to play. What are your thoughts on the Chargers matchup? What are your thoughts on the team overall? Comment and let us know.