The narrative that comes out of this Sunday’s game against the Bills will either be the Redskins got their season back on track or it is continuing to fall apart. Narrative is important to most fans but it is based too heavily on preconceptions. Before the season began the Redskins were predicted by most major sporting news sources to win between two and three games. At 3-3 the Redskins are better than what most people expected, but for some reason this is seen as a negative. Some have already begun the Shanahan is on the hot seat talk. Yet another coaching change is the last thing the Redskins need. If they hope to ever become a winning franchise hitting the reset button every two or three years is not the way to go.
A lot of meaning is being put into this game against the Bills, but it shouldn’t be. In order for the Redskins to win this game they are going to have to have a lot of players play over their heads. The injury list is growing by the week and a lot of the names aren’t good. The two worst players to have out this week though are Santana Moss and DeAngelo Hall. Secondary and receiver are two of the Redskins weaker areas, and missing their best cover corner and best pass catcher is not going to help. Tim Hightower is also out with his knee injury, but he has not performed up to expectations and his production can be replaced by Torain and Helu.
With injuries along the offensive line and John Beck in only his second game of the season as the starting quarterback it is good that the Redskins will once again be facing a defense that struggles against the run. The Bills are third worst in the league allowing an average of 135 yards a game. It should be noted though that the Eagles and Panthers both were struggling against the run and were able to improve their ranking by playing the Redskins.
The Bills also happen to be third worst in the league against the pass allowing 284.8 yards a game and have struggled with the pass rush having reached and sacked the quarterback a league worst four times. Overall on defense the Bills have allowed the 14th most points in the NFL and the 9th most yards. They are also coming off a bye week and have allowed 423 total offensive yards a game which is second worst in the NFL.
The passing offense of the Bills ranks in the middle of the pack in yards a game, but they have scored the 9th most touchdowns through the air. Ryan Fitzpatrick has been an effective passer throwing for twice as many touchdowns as he has interceptions. The Bills have a +9 turnover difference on the year and have been able to hang onto the ball on offense and get the ball on defense. The Redskins have been able to do neither and have surfered for it.
Running back Fred Jackson is the Bills offensive leader averaging over 100 yards a game rushing and 46.5 yards receiving. Teams have struggled to stop the Bills screen game and it is an offensive strategy that works well against an aggressive defense like the Redskins. In total the Bills rush for 141 yards a game and have only fumbled twice.
The Bills defense might not be able to stop the run or the pass, but they are able to take the ball away from opposing offenses while the Bills offense is able to hang onto the ball and is one of the better rushing offenses in football. The Redskins best hope for victory in this game is the same as it has been every week. Get pressure on the quarterback to not allow him time to pick apart the weakened secondary, control the clock on offense, and control the field position behind the leg of Sav Rocca.
The last two weeks the Redskins have faced teams that struggle on defense but are good on offense. By virtue of having a poor offense these games are bad match-ups for the Redskins. In order to win this game Beck is going to have to play like a good quarterback and the coaches are going to have to trust that he can do that. The Redskins defense also has to start forcing some turnovers. The Redskins are 19th in the league having forced only 8 turnovers.
The banged up Redskins should struggle against a fresh and rejuvenated Bills team, but of course this is sports and what should happen isn’t always what does happen. The Redskins are going to need contributions from guys that are normally back-ups or not counted on to be the top player at their position. Every game is winnable, and if things break right for the Redskins they could defy the odds and win this one.