It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
That might be the opening of some famous literature, but it also applies to the first two weeks of the Redskins season.
In Week 1 the Redskins thrashed Arizona, dominating both sides of the ball en route to a 24-6 victory. In Week 2 the Colts thrashed the Redskins, at home, as Washington could not run the ball or get key stops on defense in a 21-9 loss.
Looking forward, what Redskins team will show up on Sunday as the Packers come to FedEx Field for Week 3?
- Start running - Against the Cardinals, the Redskins dominated time of possession by running the ball. Adrian Peterson ran for nearly 100 yards and Chris Thompson added another 65 yards on the ground. The Redskins had the ball more than 22 minutes in the first half of that game. By Week 2, Peterson ran for just 20 yards on 11 carries. The Redskins could get nothing going on the ground. Nothing. The team must run better if they're going to beat the Packers, not just for offensive balance, but to rest the defense and keep Aaron Rodgers off the field.
- Starts up front - One thing that will help the Redskins run the ball will be better play from their offensive line. That group will take a hit Sunday because starting left guard Shawn Lauvao won't play, and that means Chase Roullier moves to guard and backup Tony Bergstrom lines up at center. Regardless of what five players are on the field, the unit must produce more push against Green Bay than they did against Indianapolis. That starts on the edges, with Trent Williams and Morgan Moses, and a Pro Bowl type performance from Brandon Scherff. It's true these guys are banged up, but if they're on the field, the performance needs to be stronger.
- Gandalf the White - Why are we writing about a fictional wizard? The ever-loquacious Josh Norman gave Packers all-world QB Aaron Rodgers the nickname of Gandalf because of the magic tricks that he pulls off week after week. One of the greatest QBs of all time, Rodgers is a constant threat on the field, literally every snap. Washington defensive coordinator Greg Manusky said the team will be prepared for the quick snap, one of Rodgers' favorite tricks that often leads to free plays and offsides calls. For the rest of Rodgers tricks, the Redskins defense needs to be prepared for a passer with a rocket arm and the sharpest eyes in the NFL.
- Call the play, and execute - The Redskins did not have their best offensive game plan last week. Jay Gruden admitted as much this week. The Redskins offense also did not have their best game last week. Alex Smith and the receivers cannot get into a groove, and there is a chicken or egg discussion on if Smith needs to throw the ball downfield more or if the wideouts need to make more plays. The answer might reveal itself on Sunday.
They Said It
- Jay Gruden on facing Aaron Rodgers: "I mean he can do everything. His mobility probably sets him apart from some of the other guys. He stands in the pocket. He can move. He's a winner. I don’t know. I think if any team had him on their team and you're picking, whether you're picking first in the fantasy football quarterback draft or fifth, and you've got Aaron Rodgers, you feel good about winning every game that you play."
- Greg Manusky on Redskins defensive scheme: "From our standpoint, we go into each game with the plan that we have."
- Alex Smith on keeping pace with the Packers offense: "I think that you can get sucked into that. In the end, of course, we want to dominate regardless of the offense we are playing."
- Packers coach Mike McCarthy on facing Alex Smith: "He’s definitely an excellent addition to the Washington Redskins and he’s going to be a big challenge for a defense."
Numbers & Notes
- Adrian Peterson has 100 career touchdowns, good for No. 7 on the all time NFL list. John Riggins sits at No. 6 on the list with 104 TDs.
- In 17 career games against Green Bay, Peterson has run for nearly 1,800 yards and 13 TDs.
- Matt Ioannidis has sacks in consecutive games, and a sack on Sunday would be the first time in his career with a sack in three consecutive games.
- The Redskins have not opened a season with a 2-1 record since 2008.
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