By: Patrick Waring
(Above Photo – Associated Press / Patrick Semansky)
With Week 2 underway in the 2015 NFL season, are there any teams faced with a must win? I know what you’re thinking, “calm down, it’s only the second week!”, right?
The Washington Redskins weren’t picked to win the NFC East, or even picked by many to make a lot of noise this year, but avoiding an 0-2 start is probably best for both the team and fans. A team that finished with a 4-12 record last year and still has many question marks isn’t going to have too many people believing things are going to be great. I don’t believe this team is the 32nd best (worst) in the league, but it’s easy to recognize that there is plenty of work left to do to become a playoff threat.
Coming off of a 17-10 defeat to the visiting Miami Dolphins, the Redskins showed some promise, while also leaving a lot on the table. Blown opportunities and missed plays lead to the opening day loss. Alfred Morris (25 carries, 121 yards) and Matt Jones (six carries, 28 yards) provided tough running. Rookie OG Brandon Scherff and second year OT Morgan Moses held their own against the Dolphins defense and didn’t give up a sack. As a matter of fact, Ndamukong Suh only recorded one tackle. That, and a questionable movement towards RB Alfred Morris’ head that resulted in the ball carrier’s helmet coming off.
QB Kirk Cousins did throw two interceptions, but in the end, it was a special teams play that really did the team in. Early in the fourth quarter, Jarvis Landry returned a punt 69 yards for a touchdown that gave the Dolphins a 17-10 lead, the final score of the day.
The Redskins will face another solid defensive front on Sunday when the St. Louis Rams come to town for the 1 p.m. kickoff. St. Louis started off the season with a 34-31 overtime win against the Seattle Seahawks. The Rams present another test for the Redskins offensive line, but also have more weapons on offense than the Dolphins.
Not making things easier, the Redskins will be down a few men. WR DeSean Jackson (hamstring) will be out for a while, CB Chris Culliver will serve his one game suspension and SS Duke Ihenacho (wrist) is out for the remainder of the season. Preseason standout Rashad Ross will try to fill the void at WR and will return kicks. The team will welcome back CB Bashaud Breeland (injury/suspension) and they picked up CB Will Blackmon.
There will also be a few familiar faces coming out of the visiting locker room. The Redskins defense will face former NFC East and Eagles QB Nick Foles, while the offense will attempt to create problems for former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. Williams spent four seasons in Washington.
Already faced with drama and injuries, the Redskins would probably want to do everything they can to avoid the 0-2 start. The formula will be simple, but easier said than done. Establish the run game, limit penalties and turnovers, and don’t give up big plays. It will be a tough challenge to get things going if the season slips away in the opening month. We may not have to use the word “must”, but the words “really need” are close enough.
You can follow me on Twitter @WaringPatrick.