Six Points: Buccaneers vs. Redskins
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-3) take on the Washington Redskins (2-4) in a battle for each team to stay out of last place in their respective divisions.
Things haven’t gone as planned for the Buccaneers in their second season under head coach Lovie Smith. Rookie quarterback Jameis Winston has struggled with consistency, and that was to be expected, but the defense has remained one of the NFL’s worst overall — that was supposed to change under Smith.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before in the last several years — the Redskins have uncertainity at the quarterback position. Starter Kirk Cousins is losing the fanbase fast after throwing eight interceptions through just six games. Head coach Jay Gruden is behind Cousins now, but another turnover-heavy game could change his mind.
Here are three keys to the game for both the Buccaneers and Redskins.
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1. Give a repeat offensive performance from Week 5
What the Buccaneers did in Week 5 offensively against the Jacksonville Jaguars was perfect. Doug Martin ran the ball 24 times, Charles Sims ran it 12 times and Jameis Winston ran it four times. In total, the three combined for 183 yards and two rushing touchdowns. The strong run game allowed Winston much more time in the pocket, and it resulted in him playing smart and making the right decisions. Winston also didn’t turn the ball over, which will be a key to Tampa Bay’s success.
2. Intercept Kirk Cousins
Yes, it’s pretty straightforward, but the fact is simple. In games when Cousins has thrown an interception, the Redskins are 0-4. In the other two games? He hasn’t been picked off and they’ve gone 2-0. If the Buccaneers can swarm defensively and force Cousins to turn the ball over, this could very well lead to them grabbing their third win of 2015. An opportunistic game plan that allows the cornerbacks to take chances is all that is needed.
3. Get Mike Evans going
After catching seven balls for 101 yards against the Houston Texans, Evans has hardly been used over the past two weeks. Combined in the last two games, he’s caught just six balls for 73 yards and no touchdowns. Evans is actually still searching for his first score of 2015, as well. If the Buccaneers can get Evans going, it’s going to make everything much easier offensively, specifically for Martin and Sims in the run game.
1. Stop Doug Martin first
After allowing the second-least rushing yards per game through the first four weeks, the Redskins have been gashed for 397 rushing yards over their last two games. Doug Martin has not been as consistently dominating as the Redskins’ last two opponents — Chris Ivory and Devonta Freeman — but his most recent game was his most dominant in 2015 — he ran for 123 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries. The Redskins need to rotate their safeties down into the box and use run blitzes constantly throughout the game. Anything it takes to stop Martin and the running game first.
2. Get Jordan Reed involved early and often
All signs point to tight end Jordan Reed (concussion) returning to action this week. When active, Reed has averaged 70 yards receiving and nine targets per game. It’s easy to tell that he is Cousins’ favorite target in the passing game. Reed works the underneath routes, has the ability to break free over the top and he is excellent after the catch in space. He is also the team’s best option in the red zone.
3. Open up the playbook on defense
Winston has struggled against defensive coordinators willing to send different looks and blitzes at him this season. Redskins defensive boss Joe Barry is certainly not shy when it comes to attacking the offense, and in this matchup, he should be unafraid to try out blitz packages he hasn’t used before.