On pace for an 0-16 year and statistically one of the worst teams ever through five games, the 2019 Miami Dolphins might be the worst team in NFL history. And the Redskins barely beat them.
Turning the page to Sunday, Washington will face an undefeated 49ers team that excels at running the football on offense and getting after the quarterback on defense. San Francisco has won four of their games by double digits, and two of their victories came by 20+ points. The Redskins have one win by one point against Miami, and then four losses by double digits.
By all logic and reason, the Redskins won't beat the 49ers. Vegas installed San Fran as a double-digit favorite even though they're on the East Coast for an early start. So, how can the Redskins win? Here's a blueprint.
- Turn turnovers into scores - Usually a team with the plus/minus ratio of the 49ers doesn't have an undeafeted record. San Francisco is only +2 in turnovers, and in their last three games, the Niners have given up the ball seven times. The problem is the opposition isn't converting on those free possessions. In their last three games, despite seven turnovers, the Niners are giving up just 10 points-per-game. Jimmy Garapolo has five interceptions and four fumbles in five games. He's going to turn the ball over. What Washington's offense has to do is turn interceptions or fumbles into touchdowns. Touchdowns, not field goals.
- Trust in Terry - If there's one area the 49ers defense is vulnerable, it's in the secondary. Sure interim Redskins coach Bill Callahan wants to commit to running the football, and that makes sense, but Washington should look to feed rookie WR Terry McLaurin early and often. In their closest game this year, a 24-20 victory over the Steelers, Pittsburgh WRs JuJu Smith-Schuster and Dionate Johnson each got deep for long touchdown plays. If Callahan and offensive coordinator Kevin O'Connell study that Steelers tape, and it's a good guess they have, deep shots to McLaurin need to be a big part of this gameplan. Callahan even hinted as much in a conversation with NBC Sports Washington, "Every game is different. This game coming up may be different than last week. We may take certain shots on certain downs and distances, and change our tendencies as we go forward. That's always fluid. I think that you are gameplan specific based on your opponent. Obviously, you want to take advantage of the things you can do."
- Muck it up - In the first half against the New England Patriots, the Redskins defense showed up in a big way. Washington's defense sacked Tom Brady three times and generally suffocated the Patriots offense. The effort didn't hold up in the second half, but Callahan has made clear that his team is focused on playing four full quarters. The weather could be bad Sunday, and maybe that will help too. The Redskins want this game to be ugly, and much of that will depend on their defensive line showing up strong.
It's a long shot, but strange things happen in the NFL. The Redskins need big plays on offense and when turnovers do arrive, Washington needs to capitalize.
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