Good morning; it’s game day and the Washington Football Team is facing an opponent that is beatable if Ron Rivera’s charges do things the right way in this road game.
Keys to the game
No. 1 - Win the turnover battle
Last Sunday’s game against the Cardinals might’ve gone a lot differently if Dwayne Haskins hadn’t lost a fumble in Arizona’s red zone and if Steven Sims hadn’t fumbled away another ball during his punt return.
The Washington defense has looked fairly adept so far this season at generating turnovers. The offense has to take advantage of them the way they did in the second half of the Week 1 comeback victory against the Eagles.
No. 2 - Win the battle of field position
Tress Way needs to do what he does and keep the Browns offense pinned down inside the 20 yard line to start drives. Make them work their way down the entire field. Three and outs in our own territory are death to the field position game. If a drive stalls near mid-field, then let MVP Tress Way do his thing, but let’s not have him kicking from inside his own 15-yard line.
Defensively, doing #1 — that is, forcing turnovers that give the offense short fields — was powerful medicine against Philly and it will work against Cleveland.
Another weapon in the field position battle could be Steven Sims as the kick returner. Parkey, the Browns kicker, doesn’t have a powerful leg; there are likely to be some returnable kickoffs. Remember that Sims had a KO return for a touchdown last season, and he’s a talented kick returner when given the opportunity (though only a pedestrian punt returner). If Sims can use his quick elusiveness on kickoffs to get the Football Team’s offense started outside their own 30 yard line a few times in the game, that would be a great advantage.
No. 3 - The offense needs to score points in the first half
The Football Team was down 17-0 in Week 1 and 20-0 in week 2. We don’t want to fall behind against the Browns because of the powerful running game they can employ to move the ball, kill the clock, and limit possessions.
Haskins must start quickly and get some points on the board to keep the pressure on Baker Mayfield to stay even on the scoreboard so he can’t just set set Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt loose to protect a lead.
Personally, I think this might be the week for the burgundy and gold to unleash a no-huddle offense for the first drive or two. Sure, it’s a risk, but Dwayne seems more comfortable running an up-tempo shotgun attack, and I think Scott Turner needs to get Dwayne comfortable more quickly. Let’s play like we’re behind from the first possession since that’s the style of play in which Haskins seems to look most natural.
Turner has said that he has the traditional philosophy of establishing the run to set up the pass. How about a quick-paced short passing game to move the chains, loosen the defense and set up the running game for the second half, instead?
No. 4 - The defense has to shut down the the Cleveland running attack in the first quarter and force Baker Mayfield to throw for yards and scores
Sure, the Browns have weapons in Landry, OBJ and Hooper, but they only make plays with the ball if Mayfield can get it to them. Force him to make throws while under attack by Sweat, Young, Iaonnidis, Allen, Kerrigan and Co. Force Baker Mayfield to make a play on every offensive down while he is under pressure, and that is likely to feed the turnover stat in Washington’s favor.
If the team can do these things, stay focused and play disciplined football, they have every opportunity to come out of Cleveland with a win, and maintain first place in the NFC East.
If they fail to do these things — if the offense goes three & out several times and turns the ball over; if the Browns can run at will against the defense, and if Dwayne Haskins can’t get things going until the second half for the third week in a row, then the WFT will come home to a hugely difficult game against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 4 already behind the eight-ball.
Who has the biggest impact on today’s game?
This poll is closed
Chase Young/Montez Sweat/Ryan Kerrigan
Antonio Gibson/JD McKissic
Geron Christian/Wes Martin
Matt Iaonnidis/Jonathan Allen
Ron Rivera/Jack Del Rio/Scott Turner