Five Things That Must Happen for the Washington Redskins to Reach the Playoffs
Offensive Captain Robert Griffin III says Redskins can make the playoffs
The Washington Redskins are currently in last place in the NFC East with a 3-6 record. Although the addition of quarterback Robert Griffin III has brought excitement to the nation’s capital, it hasn’t improved the team to the point where they are a playoff contender.
However, the Redskins are not mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. Five of their last seven games in the 2012 NFL season are against their NFC East rivals, the Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, and Philadelphia Eagles. Washington proved to be a tough opponent for the Giants during their Week Seven loss. In addition, the Cowboys and Eagles have both been inconsistent in 2012. This bodes well for Washington to make a playoff run.
The Redskins can also draw on recent history for inspiration. In 2007, Washington won their final four games to finish 9-7 and earn a playoff berth. Unfortunately, that inspiration was fueled by the murder of their All-Pro safety Sean Taylor during the season. It goes without saying that current Washington Redskins’ players, as well as fans, hope a similar scenario doesn’t occur in 2012.
Griffin III also feels that Washington can still reach the playoffs. Even as a rookie, he is the most talented player on the Redskins. He was voted a team captain after Washington’s bye week during Week Ten. Griffin III’s confidence speaks volumes, and Washington Redskins’ fans hope that their rookie quarterback’s confidence will inspire them on a similar drive to the playoffs like in 2007 (minus the tragic circumstances).
Realistically, Washington will have to win at least six of their last seven games to qualify for postseason play. Then again, in the parity filled 2012 NFL season, anything is possible. With that said, here are five things that must happen for the Washington Redskins to reach the playoffs:
Robert Griffin III must limit his turnovers.
Make no mistake, as Griffin III goes so does the Washington Redskins. The man nicknamed “RG3” has been a phenomenal addition to the Redskins’ offense. What gets unnoticed is that he has thrown only three interceptions and lost two fumbles. That’s pretty remarkable, considering Griffin III’s exciting playing style that leaves him prone to injury, as well as compromising ball security at times.
Griffin III must continue to take care of the ball in an effort for the offense to be successful. If he can remain mindful of ball security, Washington will have a chance to win some games, which could possibly propel them into the playoffs.
Alfred Morris must continue to effectively anchor the running game.
Washington running back Alfred Morris remains a force in the Redskins’ backfield. He is a tough, physical runner that can earn tough yards. He can also deliver a punishing blow to tacklers. He currently leads Washington in rushing yards with 793, which takes the pressure off Griffin III to be the main offensive focus on the Redskins.
Morris’ contributions will become even more critical as the season progresses. Six of Washington’s last seven games will be potentially played in cold weather, which could hamper the passing game a bit. Teams need to be able to run efficiently in such conditions. Teams also need to be able to run efficiently late in games when trying to protect a lead in an effort to run the clock out and secure victory. Morris’ continued efficiency in the running game is critical to a Redskins’ playoff run.
Pierre Garcon and Chris Cooley must become efficient in the passing game.
Wide receiver Pierre Garcon and tight end Chris Cooley are vital elements of Washington’s passing game. Unfortunately, both have been non factors due to separate circumstances. Garcon is still recovering from a torn ligament in the second toe of his right foot. He may be available for Washington's Week Eleven game with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Cooley was resigned by the Redskins after starting tight end Fred Davis suffered a season ending Achilles injury. However, Cooley has not seen much playing time because of the emergence of tight end Logan Paulsen. Throughout his career, Cooley has been an effective red zone receiver. Meanwhile, Garcon can’t be expected to be the deep threat he once was because of his injiury. If Garcon and Cooley can somehow return to the offense and provide two more efficient targets for Griffin III, they could prove vital for the Redskins to earn a playoff berth.
The defense must become opportunistic again.
The Washington Redskins’ defense has been the source of much criticism in 2012, ranking 27th in total defense. What gets overlooked is Washington’s plus seven turnover differential, and that the defense has scored four touchdowns directly off of opponents’ turnovers. Linebacker Ryan Kerrigan leads the team with 4.5 sacks, as well as an interception return for a touchdown.
The Redskins’ defense will need to force a few more turnovers to take the pressure off Griffin III and the offense. Forcing turnovers either gives the offense a short field to work with or it will thwart an opponent’s scoring drive. If Washington can capitalize by scoring points off forced turnovers, they have a chance to go on a winning streak that leads to a playoff berth.
The Redskins’ placekicking must remain effective.
The modern day NFL has embraced league parity. The fact that the Redskins still have a chance at a playoff berth as of this writing solidifies that belief. Seven of Washington’s first nine games have been decided by eight points or less, which indicates the need for a reliable placekicker to take advantage of presented scoring opportunities.
After much consternation regarding the placekicking position, the Redskins seem to have settled on the unheralded Kai Forbath as their kicker. So far, Forbath has been effective, connecting on all eight of his field goal attempts, including one from 50 yards. Considering that Washington may become involved in many close games, if Forbath can continue his solid kicking, it would help Washington in their quest for post season play.