Redskins-Buccaneers keys to the game: defense
The defense had a horrible showing against the Giants last week, and a similar challenge awaits this Sunday in another strong running back tandem in LeGarrette Blount and Cadillac Williams. To complicate matters, quarterback Josh Freeman is very effective running the ball as well with 49 carries and 291 yards with 5.9 average per carry. So here's what the defense must do.
First they must stop the run. That means tackling is a must. Poor tackling will spell disaster for this team, Blount is a big, strong, fast, bruising back. He might be even more talented than the Giants' Brandon Jacobs, and Williams, when healthy, is probably a better back than the Giants' Ahmad Bradshaw. So the defense will have its hands full again.
The defensive front can make the linebackers' jobs a easier by plugging running lanes, so the running backs are reading instead of just running full speed downhill. Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett might blitz more this week. I expect Haslett, with nothing to lose, to try to overload the line of scrimmage even on passing downs.
That leads me to pressure. There has been very little of it of late. If the Redskins are able to start generating more pressure on pass plays as well as run plays, this will be a very important part of their success. They need to be aggressive and take no prisoners.
The Bucs aren't unbeatable. On offense, they rank in the 20s for all categories except rushing, where they're 11th. Freeman is a good young QB, but if the Redskins force him to win the game by passing, they have a chance. If they don't stop the run and let Freeman and company get comfortable, we will see a repeat performance of last week.
The task will be very difficult with a big strong offensive line. I give the advantage to the Bucs offense.