Five keys for Sunday vs. Redskins

Colts and Redskins both like to blitz from 3-4 schemes. Defense that gets the most pressure likely wins Sunday.

Colt McCoy, and not Robert Griffin III, leads the Washington Redskins (3-8) into Lucas Oil Stadium Sunday to face the Indianapolis Colts (7-4) in a 1 p.m. kickoff. Here are the Colts keys:

1. Blitz pick-up — The first certainty is that the Redskins, like the Colts, don’t hide the fact that they will blitz, especially in ideal down-and-distance situations. A Redskins win at Dallas exposed the Cowboys’ problems with picking up extra pass rushers. Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett knows he can’t let Andrew Luck have time. The Colts also know Haslett will be bringing blitzers from all over, so it’s imperative that running backs and tight ends help plug the holes. Luck might also need to scramble a bit to buy some time. One difference between blitzing defenses is Washington also an exceptional pass rusher in former Purdue star Ryan Kerrigan, whose next sack this season will give him a career high. The outside linebacker is at 8.5, the same number he had the last two seasons after 7.5 in his rookie year. If the Colts are forced to use extra blockers to pick up blitzes, Kerrigan will be isolated one-on-one.

2. Back line must be smart — Don’t be fooled by the Redskins’ record. These guys have got talent. Wide receivers DeSean Jackson and former Colt Pierre Garcon can make plays all over the field, and especially deep. Jackson’s long reception this season is 81 yards. Garçon’s is 70. The Colts will look to jam these guys, of course, but safeties Mike Adams and Sergio Brown have to be on the look out for these two stretching the field. Jackson seems to burn everybody at some point. Look for Colt McCoy to test the Colts’ secondary, especially when considering Indy’s cornerbacks aren’t exactly 100 percent. Vontae Davis has a sore foot, Greg Toler is coming off a concussion and Darius Butler has a sore knee. Adams and Brown will undoubtedly be used on Jackson as a safety cover in bracket coverage.

3. Slow down MorrisAlfred Morris has seven rushing touchdowns although the running back’s 4.3-yard-per-carry average doesn’t jump off the stat sheet. That said, the Colts have made lesser backs look like Hall of Famer’s so there’s no taking anyone lightly. And Washington has four other rushing TDs, so it’s no secret what this team will look to do when it gets to the red zone. The Colts are coming off a solid effort in a 23-3 home win over Jacksonville as the Jaguars managed just 80 yards rushing on 23 carries, 3.5-yard average. Yeah, that’s the Jaguars. Washington is 16th in rushing offense, one spot ahead of the Colts. While the Redskins drop to 24th in run defense, the Colts are 17th. And they were ninth before the Patriots ran over them two weeks ago. Lesser teams have found the sledding rather tough against Indianapolis. And last week’s return of defensive tackle Arthur Jones should make the Colts even stronger up front.

4. More Boom — Dan “Boom” Herron had a solid first NFL start last week except for one lost fumble. Trent Richardson gave his ho-hum 3.2 yards per carry. He did have a 1-yard touchdown run, but as Colts fans on Twitter reminded, “1-yard runs are Trent’s speciality.” The Colts should be able to find some running lanes against the Redskins, which would take some of the heat off Luck and the NFL’s No. 1 pass offense needing to move the chains all the time. That said, it’s not going to happen with any consistency as long as Richardson is carrying a blu of the load. Colts head coach Chuck Pagano said the starter would be determined on how both running backs practiced this week. The week before in practice, Herron earned the nod. It’s doubtful much has changed in one week.

5. Weekly turnover shout-out — Yeah, this gets mentioned repeatedly. That’s because the Colts keep turning it over. Three lost fumbles last week in the first half had fans scratching their heads. Luck was guilty of losing two of them. He held onto the ball too long on the first strip and then appeared to try to make a play when he lost the second. The Colts have had an astounding 21 fumbles, losing nine. Players are given weekly sermons on ball security, and yet the mistakes continue. If the Redskins can get some early turnovers, as the Jaguars did last week, they have the weapons to convert them into touchdowns. Colts defenders should also be looking to fall on the ball because the Redskins eight of 16 fumbles.

Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.


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