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Here's The Situation: Redskins

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The Vikings are coming off a much-needed win against Tampa Bay. How can they continue that momentum against Washington on Sunday?

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

It wasn't pretty, but an ugly win counts just as much as any other in the NFL. Sitting at 3-5, the Vikings could be doing better, but all things considered, they could also be doing much, much worse. They're facing a Washington Redskins team that's on a two game winning streak, including a big upset on the road against heavily favored Dallas. The Redskins, in many ways, mirror the Vikings so far this season. They have a stout defense, but an offense that's struggled, due in large part to three quarterbacks shuffling in and out of the lineup due to injury or ineffectiveness. Robert Griffin III started the season but was hurt in week two, and was replaced by Kirk Cousins. Cousins was benched in favor of Colt McCoy midway through the win against the Titans, and he engineered a come from behind win and the upset at Dallas.

All that said, RG III is 'very very close' to returning, according to head coach Jay Gruden, and might play against the Vikings. Regardless of who starts at quarterback, the Vikings offense is going to need to figure out a way to move the ball against a defense that is 11th overall in yards given up. If the Vikings are to get to within one game of .500, how is it going to happen?

Sustain some drives and score some points. It's simple, but it's also easier said than done with this offense. The Vikings struggled against the worst defense in the NFL last week, and only produced one offensive touchdown all day. Drives continually stalled between the 40's, and although the defense held tough all day, by the end of the fourth quarter they were gassed and needed the offense to pick them up with JUST ONE sustained scoring drive. They couldn't do it, and the defense gave up what looked to be a game winning drive. To their credit, the offense answered, and the clutch drive was encouraging...but had they been able to put a couple drives together earlier on, the clutch drive would've been a victory formation drive to kill the clock. Their task is going to be tougher this week, and they need to get the ball in the end zone.

Hey, there's this position called the tight end. Remember when we all thought Kyle Rudolph was going to have a monster year because of the past track record of tight ends in NORV'S! offense? I get that Rhett Ellison and Chase Ford aren't Kyle Rudolph, but Ford had a good game against the Bucs, and was able to make some plays Sunday. In the loss to Buffalo, the Vikings tight ends had no catches, but Ford had 6 for 61 against Tampa Bay, the most from the tight end position since Rudolph and Ellison combined for six catches and 77 yards against New England in week two. Ford is proving a legitimate target for Bridgewater, and a guy that can make crucial, move the chains type catches, something the Vikings desperately need.

Play smarter, not harder. Look, I like Matt Asiata. Heck, I don't personally dislike any member of this team. Since, you know, I don't personally know them, and stuff. But the Vikings really need to be smarter about personnel packages and when they deploy assets. Asiata is a three yards between the tackles guy, except when you throw him the ball in the flat. Then he becomes Chuck Foreman BECAUSE HE WEARS 44 DO YOU SEE WHAT I JUST DID THERE PLEASE TELL ME YOU SAW THAT. Anyway, when you're in the shadow of your own goal post, and you want to put Asiata in, cool. I don't have a problem with that. Just don't run him outside, okay Norv? Asking guys to do what isn't their strong suit only puts the team in a bigger bind when that inevitably fails. And this Redskins defense isn't going to fall for those deceptive tricks. Run him up the gut, get three or four yards, and do something ingenious on second down.

The defense needs to pick up the offense. Hey, I get that if I'm a member of the Vikings defense and I read this (LOLOL whatever them read this right) I'm thinking to myself "if I picked the offense up anymore we would be clean and jerk weightlifting coaches". But consider: the Vikings defense is going to be facing either a third string QB in Colt McCoy (who, admittedly, has been playing very good football) or a starter in RG III that hasn't played in six weeks and is coming off of another injury. If the Vikings can force a turnover deep in Washington's end of the field, that gives the offense a really short field to work from, and an early score can help build some confidence and momentum. Or, you know, you can score another defensive touchdown if you want. That's cool, too. Tomato tomahto. Or potato potahto...does anyone even say tomahto or potahto? Anyone? Bueller?

Don't get beat deep by DeSean Jackson. This cat is good, like really good. He's averaging over 20 yards a catch, and has gone over the century mark in receiving yardage four times this year, including three of the last four games. But the Vikings have done a pretty good job of taking away the big play receiver threat of the opposition so far...which is something I didn't think I would be typing this far in to the season. In 2014, the 'big time' receivers for Vikings opponents have done the following:

Team

Player

Receptions

Yards

TD

St. Louis

Brian Quick

7

99

0

New England

Julian Edelman

6

81

1

New Orleans

Jimmy Graham

6

54

0

Atlanta

Julio Jones

6

82

0

Green Bay

Jordy Nelson

1

66

1

Detroit

Golden Tate*

7

44

0

Buffalo

Sammy Watkins

9

122

1

Tampa Bay

Mike Evans

4

78

0

*Tate was the leading wide receiver for the Lions. Calvin Johnson did not play. RB Theo Riddick was the leading receiver for the team.

Other than the big game Sammy Watkins had, and the 66 yarder Jordy Nelson had for a score, those are pretty respectable numbers. If the Vikings can keep Jackson from getting 100 yards, they have a very good chance to force the tempo of the game when they're on defense. And if they can do that, I really like their chances.

So the Vikings have their work cut out for them, but the offense has been making progress. I think they squeak out a narrow win this week. Let's call it 24-20 good guys.