If the Washington Football Team has any hopes of upsetting the heavily favored Baltimore Ravens this Sunday, quarterback Dwayne Haskins simply must play better than he did last week in Cleveland.
One way for Haskins to get back on track would be to frequently target his best pass-catcher, second-year wideout Terry McLaurin. The two have established quite the connection over the first two weeks, as McLaurin is currently seventh in receiving yards across the league.
However, there's an argument to be made that McLaurin needs the ball in his hands more. He has just 16 receptions on the season but leads the NFL in yards after the catch. No. 17 is truly a threat to take it the distance every time he touches the ball.
In Week 4, McLaurin has a daunting task going up against a Baltimore secondary that has two All-Pro cornerbacks from a season ago. However, former Ravens wideout Torrey Smith believes McLaurin's speed gives him a significant advantage over one of the Ravens defensive backs.
"With Scary Terry, there's a lot of speed out there," Smith said on the Washington Football Talk podcast. "He's the kind of guy that is Marcus Peters' kryptonite."
Peters entered the NFL in 2015 and has hauled in 28 interceptions since then, by far the most in the NFL. However, Peters' knack for finding the ball comes with a price: he loves to gamble.
Last week, in Baltimore's loss to Kansas City, Peters was responsible for allowing a 49-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Mecole Hardman. Peters chose to bait on the crossing route from Tyreek Hill, leaving Hardman all by himself behind the defense. That's just one example of the multiple times in Peters' career where he's been on the wrong end of a long touchdown.
As a rookie, McLaurin scored two touchdowns from over 65 yards out. While most of the wideout's work has come on short passes this year -- allowing McLaurin to create in space -- his speed makes him always a threat to take the top off the defense, too.
"[McLaurin's] speed is something you can't teach, and he can beat each and every corner in this league with that," Smith said. "I'm hoping to see some shots."
It's also worth noting that Peters likely will not be following McLaurin or even be matched up with him for most of the game. Baltimore employs another stud cornerback in Marlon Humphrey, who just signed a multi-year extension on Thursday.
Humphrey's greatest strength is arguably his versatility; he has the ability to play both in the slot and on the outside. No matter where Washington chooses to line McLaurin up, there's a chance Humphrey could be following.
Baltimore usually doesn't ask one of its All-Pro cornerbacks to shadow the opposing team's No. 1 receiver. But with the dropoff from McLaurin to the rest of Washington's weapons, it would not be surprising if the Ravens choose to switch their scheme a little.
For Smith, if Washington hopes to pull off the upset this Sunday, they'll have to come out of the gates firing. If the Burgundy and Gold allow Baltimore to control the tempo of the game, Smith doesn't see them having much of a chance.
"What you can't do is let them sit back and dictate the game," Smith said. "You have to go out swinging, be who you are on offense and try and establish that identity. This can go a long way in building that confidence in this young team."