By Kevin Ross
When the going gets tough, the tough get going. This old time cliché proves to be easier said than done for the Washington Redskins, who tend to fold up like beach chairs each and every season.
It seems to start with just one loss, then two, and then three, and before you know it, the team has packed up those beach chairs and headed home for the season. And unfortunately, this has become the recent history of the Washington Redskins who, for one reason or another, seem to respond poorly to losses, and let the previous week’s frustrations lag over into the next game.
For instance, last season was defined by a rather patented six-game losing streak where the Redskins couldn’t buy a victory. In 2010, the team’s season was defined by a four-game losing streak, and in 2009, another six-game streak sent the team home packing.
The Washington Redskins say the correct catch phrases following a loss such as, “This game is already behind us, and our focus is on next week’s opponent.” But when next week occurs, it’s obvious that the Skins aren’t focused on anything except for repeating the same tired mistakes.
And these losing streaks can be very frustrating given the fact that in today’s NFL the word parody gets tossed around more than footballs. If Washington can find a way to rid themselves of these lengthy losing streaks and hover around the .500 mark, they would leave the door open for potentially great things.
For the average team, the 16-game regular season can be broken down into four game intervals. And if a team finishes each 4-game interval with a 2-2 record, they will essentially be in the same position that the Giants faced going into last year’s regular season finale. And in today’s NFL, that’s all that one can hope for, which is to hover around the .500 mark and then win when it matters. Therefore, players must condition themselves to not get too low during a season, and to not get too high like Washington DC did after week one’s win at New Orleans.
The Washington Redskins have currently lost two consecutive games, but a win against Tampa Bay will keep them right where they need to be after the first 4-game hurdle. Therein lies the importance of this week four matchup where a curly “W” puts the winner at 2-2, which seems light years ahead of the loser who will sit at 1-3 in the standings.
And the key to earning that curly “W” is simple for Washington: Make Josh Freeman play like Josh Freeman.
Josh Freeman exploded on the scene in 2010 as he recorded 25 touchdown passes, to only six interceptions. Standing at 6-6 and 240 pounds, Freeman quickly drew comparisons to Ben Roethlisberger as he willed the Bucs to a 10-6 record and was named an alternate for the Prowbowl.
As of now, the Big Ben comparisons have stopped, and Freeman is now compared to another 6-6 quarterback who Redskins nation is all too familiar with: Jason Campbell. The comparisons with Campbell start with the fact that Freeman is playing in his third offensive system in only four years as a professional. And the comparisons end with the fact that, just like Campbell, Freeman seems intent on being a middle of the pack or average quarterback in the National Football League.
The Redskins must find a way to confuse and pressure Freeman, as he is known to struggle heavily against 3-4 defenses. Look for outside linebacker Rob Jackson to provide that pressure and to be a menace in this game all day long. As Jackson finds his rhythm do to increase playing time, look for him to emerge as one of Washington’s biggest playmakers on the defensive side of the ball.
Rob Jackson doesn’t have the athleticism of Brian Orakpo, but that has inherently become a blessing in disguise for Jackson who had to lean on a great work ethic to stay in the league. Rob Jackson has developed his craft, and is now the proud owner of multiple-pass-rush-tactics. He can bull rush offensive lineman, swim pass lineman, speed rush them, and he’s a master at using his hands to jockey for position similar to how Terrell Suggs does for Baltimore.
The defensive line of the Redskins must compensate for the deficiencies in the secondary. And this will have to be the case, probably for the remainder of the season. This is a winnable game for Washington, where a win would keep them right where they need to be.
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Kevin Ross is a freelance writer covering all things Washington Redskins. His work can be found on Examiner.com.