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Posted at 11:57 AM ET, 11/17/2010

Redskins-Titans keys to the game: offense

By LaVar Arrington

The Redskins are visiting a talented but inconsistent Titans team. After losing three out of the last four games, the Redskins' playoff hopes are starting to dwindle. They have to get on a winning streak if they want to have a chance.

Here's what the Redskins offense must do to help win this game.

The offense has struggled with 3rd down conversions all year and had its worst showing on Monday against the Eagles, converting 0 times out of 10. That's unbelievably bad. If the offense can figure out how to have some success on third downs it will go a long way toward helping the team win on Sunday.

You may wonder what makes 3rd down conversions so important. If a team is able to convert on 3rd downs, it is lengthening the drive and gaining field position. It also means more chances to score. Third downs are critical to both the offense and the defense. If an offense goes three plays and out all game, the offense will spend way too much time on the sideline and the defense will spend way too much time on the field. That means the defense will get tired and eventually will wear down.

So again, the Redskins must do better on 3rd downs.

The Redskins offensive line continues to struggle and it's costing this team success in the passing game. They must block better for this team's passing attack to improve. They only allowed two sacks against the Eagles, but that is not indicative of how poorly the o-line blocked. They must create a more comfortable pocket for Donovan McNabb to stand in. They haven't been doing this and defenders are having success at forcing McNabb to alter his passes.

Allowing defenders to get their hands in the quarterback's face or to make contact with his hand or shoulder also rattles a QB. These are all things that this o-line is allowing to happen to McNabb. They have to figure out how to stop it.

Mcnabb must throw the ball better. He has been inaccurate at times and it has cost the team. He must improve on the consistency of how accurately he is throwing the ball. The o-line shoulders the blame for the lack of protection, but that's no excuse for McNabb. He must still perform his duties better, controlling what he can control -- and that is to throw the ball better.

The receivers must catch the ball. There were way too many dropped balls against the Eagles. When a receiver drops the ball it hurts so many things. It hurts the drive. It hurts his confidence in his ability to catch the ball. More importantly, it hurts the confidence of the quarterback to throw the ball to the receiver, which in theory helps the defense by having one less target to worry about.

The Redskins will need to try to establish their ground game. The passing game has struggled, so the ground game has to improve. It rained on Monday night. It's getting to that time of year where the weather will be a factor in the games. The teams that are able to run will be the hardest teams to play against in November and December.

In this week's match up, the Titans defense is a pretty physical and talented group, and the Redskins offense hasn't shown it has the ability win games. I give the edge to the Titans defense.

By LaVar Arrington  | November 17, 2010; 11:57 AM ET
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Next: Redskins-Titans keys to the game: defense


The team has been flat the last two games and played with no real intensity. Whether that is on the coaches or players, this week could turn very ugly if they don't get focused. Shanahan has made way too many bad decisions this year. We are outcoached on a weekly basis. Is he in the process of losing the team? Another weak effort and you have to say he is.

Posted by: Iamhumongous | November 17, 2010 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Hopefully Monday night was a wake up call. We seriously lack in talent at key positions. We do have good talent in others and then we have Albert. I turned the game off at 14-0 as I had a feeling of what was coming. We looked like the Cowboys of a few weeks ago. I think we need to continue to draft good young players and get rid of the Alberts and older players.

Posted by: skinsfanfrmbirth | November 17, 2010 9:32 PM | Report abuse

I see some of the sheep aka Skins fans are now starting to see that the wolves have been upon them the entire time, simply dressed in their clothing. Mike S. has won 1 playoff game in the last decade, we have an O-line who's glue is starting to come off similar to a bandaid after washing your hands, a defense who is lacking lineman or a free safety that is worth ANYTHING, WR that are long in the tooth and/or are just too small. What else did you expect people? Did you really believe we were going to have a season above 500? Oh right you did, because Dan and Bruce said you would by hiring a has been coach, who in turn hired has been staff and/or will never be staff. The truth will set you free! Mike Vick is our only hope!

Posted by: dwilcox2 | November 18, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

The lovers and haters are now both scratching thier heads. The lovers say we are 4-5, which we are, and that is far better than last year. The haters post that we have already lost five games and more seem looming on the horizon. And they are right.

In the end we upgraded at QB. It may take a few more weeks or a year or two to teach this Shepard how to Retrieve. But outside of that we upgraded little- especially if the most physically tallented defensive player in the league is reduced to a role player. As Lavar points out (along with every analyst in the NFL- we are horrible in 3rd downs, not much better in second downs, and if first downs are our strong point we don't have enough of them. There is no magic potion here. Make a first down. Repeat the process until you score.

Defensively I think the swagger of our faster players is being exploited. Part of the 3-4 systems success across the league is putting pressure on the QB and keeping the ball in front of the backs. We are simply not doing this. Just like in baseball when TEXAS employed the little league strategy to RUN UNTIL THE BALL IS IN FRONT OF YOU, THEN SLIDE the Redskins defense needs to do the same. Start the game with 15 straight blitzes and let the DB's either sink or swim. Either way get to the QB and put him in the dirt. Early and often. Once a team is afraid of the blitz the timing will be upset and the nickle can be employed effectively. If AH isn't an A gap player than for gods sakes put him in a gap he can control. Call it whatever you like, but get it done.

The Redskins fans wane and woe about personell. Too late. It is all we could do to get these 54 players, and they are ALL better than we give them credit for. As fans it is our job to root for the team. To give them cheer. To believe in them for what they are- for better or worse. Teams with a fan base who doesn't trust them fail. It is a collective kharma that can not be ignored. When hundreds of thousands of people believe in something the collective will transfers to the individuals competing. This is true in sport. This is why underdogs succeed. The fans believe. The coaches believe. The players believe. Then they play beyond thier expected abillity level.

So get on the bus or get off, I don't care. Love or hate, again- don't care. But search in yourself and root for our team whether we are winning or losing. Or root for someone else. I would rather have wins than stats.

Wins come from teams believeing they can win. Just look at the SC Gamecocks. They are good not great, but find a way to win when they have too. Because they believe. And so do thier fans. Even if Spurrier is the coach.

Posted by: fireballhank | November 20, 2010 8:34 AM | Report abuse

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