The Washington Redskins are coming into TCF Bank Stadium on a high this Sunday after beating the now 6-2 Cowboys on Monday night. Along with that impressive win the Redskins have some other things to be happy about, especially in regards to their offense.
Washington is currently first in the NFC in yards per pass attempt (7.6), in yards per reception (12.7) and in yards after the catch (1,205). All those tie into the fact that they are currently ranked first in the NFL for yards gained per first-down play (6.52).
Their ability to gain that many yards on first down gives them a great advantage as it greatly opens up their playbook and allows them to utilize the weapons they have on their offense.
“Its not just one person,” said Vikings linebacker Jasper Brinkley. “I think DeSean Jackson is deadly, I think Pierre (Garcon) is deadly, I think their running backs – whichever one is in the backfield – is pretty deadly. They have a good team.”
And that “good team” is expected to add one more weapon to their offense in Robert Griffen III, which will add another dynamic to their offense. In terms of gaining yards on that crucial first down, however, the return of the former rookie of the year does not matter all that much as they have produced those yards so far this season without him.
It’s the fact that they have explosive players all over the field, and an offensive-minded head coach that is able to utilize their talent.
“Their personnel, they have an explosive offense,” said Brinkley when asked how Washington is so successful on first downs. “It doesn’t matter which quarterback is playing there, they have explosive receivers that can take the top off of defenses – especially DeSean Jackson. They have a nice running game also; the passing game and running game complement each other.”
Slowing the offense down on first downs will be important for the Vikings defense if they want to win the game. Getting Washington’s offense into second-and-long and third-and-long situations allows the defense more opportunities to take chances that they wouldn’t be able to take otherwise. Those chances could then lead to sacks, or turnovers which then gets the defense off the field and well-rested.
How is it the Vikings slow down the Redskins’ explosive offense on first down, though? Brinkley seems to have an answer for that, and it is a message the team has been preaching all year – do your job.
“Just play defense the way it’s supposed to be played,” said Brinkley. “Just play like we’ve been playing. Everybody taking care of their business, taking care of their job and if we go out with that mentality and go out executing plays how they’re supposed to be executed we’ll be pretty successful.”
If the Vikings hope to keep their season alive, a win against Washington is almost a must, and a lot of that could come from how successful the defense in on first downs.
Vikings know the weapons of Washington
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