This past weekend proved to be a big one for the Washington Redskins. Entering this past Sunday, the Skins needed to get a win over Tampa Bay, they did. Not only that, but they needed either the Eagles to win and crucify any hopes the Cowboys had at making the playoffs. Or the Skins needed the Cowboys to win so they could extend their lead over the NFC East. In what turned out to be a good game, Dallas got the win, extending the Skins lead to a modest two games.

If you thought things looked out of place for the Redskins on Sunday against Tampa then you would be correct. Newly signed Jonathan Cooper made the start for the Skins and filled in extremely well although he did have some penalties go against him, his overall performance deserved a standing ovation.

After the game, Jay Gruden gave praise to his offensive line. “I can’t say enough about that offensive line,” he said following the victory. “They battled through it.”

Battling through it is exactly what the Redskins will need to do this upcoming Sunday as they face yet another tough front seven for the Houston Texans. In order for the Skins to have any chance at putting up points, they will need to slow down JJ Watt and Jadeveon Clowney … they won’t stop them.

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The two have 56 tackles and 14.5 sacks combined this season. For Watt, he has 32 tackles and nine sacks while Clowney has 24 tackles and 5.5 sacks. Stopping either of them likely won’t happen, but, slowing them down needs to happen.

Washington Redskins running back Adrian Peterson (26) attempts to elude a tackle from Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Jordan Whitehead during the first half of Sunday’s game at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. COURTESY PHOTO | Special to the H-P

The Redskins need to hold their blocks long enough for Adrian Peterson to find the holes and gain yards. Peterson doesn’t need to gain 10 to 20 yards every carry but in order to be effective, he needs time to find those holes.

From Week 6 through Week 8, Peterson rushed for 97, 99 and 149 yards in which he averaged around five yards each carry. These past two weeks he has rushed for 68 yards and 17 yards but has only averaged one-to-three yards per attempt.

At this point in the season, it seems like the offense runs through Peterson, which it should since Smith and the receiving core can’t mesh. However, any game that Peterson has rushed for under 60 yards, the team is 0-3, any game he rushes for over 60 yards, the team is 6-0.

Keys to the game:

Give Peterson the rock and take the lead first. When scoring first, the Redskins are a perfect 6-0 but at the same time, their three losses to the Colts, Saints, and Falcons all came when they allowed a score first.

Washington has one of the best game managers in Smith and on Sunday it will be his role to not only manage the game but to help put up points. In three of his last four games, Smith has put up 178 yards, last week against Atlanta he put up 306 yards in a losing effort.

Smith needs to get his receivers involved better. It’s a fact. The lackluster performances from him as of late are drawing some yawns from the fans along with groans. Don’t be looking for Smith to air it out Sunday because the formula they are cooking with right now is working.

Sunday’s game against Houston is homecoming and Washington which means they will likely be wearing their throwbacks.


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