COMMENTARY | The Washington Redskins are coming off of a demoralizing defeat at the hands of the Denver Broncos while the San Diego Chargers are looking to extend their current winning streak to three games. If the Redskins want to beat the Chargers, something they haven't done since 1998, here are five keys that they'll need to take care of.
Key Number One: Stopping Philip Rivers
It really doesn't matter how they do it, but they need to find a way to slow down Philip Rivers. For those of you who haven't taken notice yet of what Rivers is doing in San Diego, it's time to pay the man some respect. While he's shouldered much of the blame for the team not making the postseason the past three seasons, River's has been on a tear this season that has playoffs written all over it.
Rivers has thrown for 2,132 yards this season with 15 touchdowns. It also helps that he's got Antonio Gates, Keenan Allen, Danny Woodhead, Eddie Royal and Vincent Brown to throw to. For the first time, Rivers has a solid fleet of receivers at his disposal instead of one or two quality players.
If Washington wants to even come close to a victory, they'll need to stop this passing attack, which is the main reason San Diego is ranked fourth in the NFL with 402.9 yards per game. The defensive backs need to be aggressive with these receivers and the front seven needs to bring pressure. If not, Rivers will pick them apart.
Key Number Two: Brandon Meriweather
This is more of just something to keep an eye on, but Meriweather's play is certainly a key to the game. Meriweather has had some interesting things to say following his suspension and could result in the officials keeping a close eye on him and giving him a very short leash.
Key Number Three: Getting Alfred Morris Involved
While Robert Griffin III is still widely considered the team's number one playmaker, I'd be willing to bet that Alfred Morris isn't far behind. Against the Broncos, the Redskins completely ignored the run game once Denver tied the game and that's when the wheels completely fell off the wagon.
Much like their game plan against the Broncos, keeping in control of the clock and leaving Phillip Rivers on the sideline is the best way to stop that passing attack. The best way to do that is to get a solid running game going. Giving Morris a minimum of 20 carries, a mark he hasn't reached in a game this season, will go a long way in accomplishing that goal.
Key Number Four: Finding a Second Passing Option
Aside from Pierre Garçon, Robert Griffin III really doesn't have anybody else to throw to at receiver. He has Jordan Reed at tight end, expect him to get a lot of looks this week, but he still needs a second read in the receiving corp.
Last week, Griffin tried to get the ball to Leonard Hankerson, Josh Morgan, Santana Moss and Aldrick Robinson, but a number of passes were dropped or overthrown. While the overthrows can be credited to RG3, drops are never a good thing. While Griffin does have two solid options in Reed and Garçon, a third receiver needs to step up and make themselves known this week, whoever that may be.
Key Number Five: Finding a Good Balance on Offense
When things really started to fall apart in Denver last Sunday, the Redskins lost any sense of balance on offense. They completely ignored the run game and relied solely on the pass game to get things done and for no reason. The game had been tied back up at 21-21 and the Redskins seemingly panicked despite the fact that they were still in the game.
Since they didn't have any balance and became a pass-only offense, the Broncos' front seven then teed off on the Redskins' offensive line and was able to easily pressure Robert Griffin III. While it's easy to blame the offensive line for poor protection, it starts with coaching and play calling. Kyle Shanahan needs to call a balanced offense if the Redskins want to win this Sunday afternoon.
So to recap, the Redskins need to stop Philip Rivers and the Chargers' passing attack, Brandon Meriweather needs to keep his head on straight, Alfred Morris needs to play a bigger role in the offense, RG3 will need a third option to throw to and Kyle Shanahan needs to keep the play calling balanced. If the Redskins can get a handle on those five concepts, they'll win. Seems easy enough, right?
Brian Skinnell is a contributor for RantSports.com and Yahoo Sports. You can follow him on Twitter, @Brian_Skinnell.
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