The Washington Football Team is 2-4 and is in the midst of a critical period in their schedule. Already losing to the New Orleans Saints and Kansas City Chiefs, Washington now hits the road to face the Green Bay Packers. Of course, the season is not lost from a team’s perspective; the team will continue to fight and turn things around, but can they? Will they be able to compete and have a chance to win against the Green Bay Packers? Here are three key matchups to watch this upcoming Sunday.
Packers empty set formations vs. Washington’s back-seven
When watching the Green Bay Packers play the Chicago Bears, I noticed that the Packers turned to the empty set look quite often. It was a formation that Rodgers looked his most comfortable in with his ability to see the field well and diagnose the coverage quickly, which helps him identify the best mismatches to target pre-snap. If Aaron Rodgers could run it every play, I’d be willing to be that they would. However, they do not run it every play because a team that can create pressure against the Packers offensive line will expose Rodgers to a lot of hits. So while the matchup will be essential for the back seven in their coverage responsibilities and communication, the front four will have to get home quickly, mainly edge rushers Montez Sweat and Chase Young.
Scott Turner vs. Joe Barry
I believe that Washington’s offense is most successful when they are playing a step-down while being very inefficient when playing teams a tier or two above them. While the Packers defense is the fourth-best in yards allowed and 13th in points allowed, they have had quite a few coverage breakdowns in their secondary against the Bears and did not defend the run well either. This matchup will be essential for Washington because Turner (and Heinicke) will be responsible for identifying Barry’s tendencies in certain situations, which in turn will compromise some of the members of the Packers secondary. The situations where I saw coverage breakdowns against the Bears were when Chicago ran route combinations that forced the Packers to either pass off a receiver or turn a zone-concept into a man coverage responsibility. Turner will need to successfully identify the right moments to attack the defense’s coverage lapses. As it relates to the run, if Antonio Gibson and J.D. McKissic can see enough touches, they will have a couple of opportunities to break some big runs.
Washington’s Redzone Offense vs. Packers Redzone Defense
I don’t think that Washington will have many opportunities to get into Green Bay’s redzone this Sunday; however, this is another area where Green Bay has struggled mightily to start the season. The Packers have allowed 15 touchdowns on 15 redzone trips for opposing offenses. Although last week against the Kansas City Chiefs, I believed a key for Washington was executing and converting in third down and redzone opportunities, they failed on both. Luckily for Washington, they’ll have another attempt this week to make up for lost chances against the Chiefs and the New Orleans Saints, for that matter.
What are your keys for Washington this week? And do you believe that they’ll be able to rally and turn their season around?