4 keys to victory for Commanders vs. Colts in Week 8

The Washington Commanders have a chance to get back to .500 with Sunday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts. A win over Indianapolis would be Washington’s third in a row.

It will be the second consecutive start for Washington quarterback Taylor Heinicke, who is 6-3 in his previous nine starts. Meanwhile, the Colts made a quarterback change this week, turning to Sam Ehlinger to replace Matt Ryan under center.

What does Washington need to do in order to leave Indianapolis with a critical victory?

Here are four keys to victory for the Commanders in Week 8 vs. the Colts.

Have more runs than passes

Washington Commanders running back Brian Robinson Jr. (8) runs past Green Bay Packers linebacker Rashan Gary (52) during the first half at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

When Taylor Heinicke is the quarterback for the Washington Commanders, a strong running game is a recipe for success. That’s not to say Heinicke can’t be successful throwing the football as we know he can. However, Heinicke is most effective when Washington is running the ball well. When the Commanders were on a four-game winning streak last year, it was due to Washington’s success in the running game. Whether it is Brian Robinson Jr. or Antonio Gibson, the Commanders must ride the running game. The Colts are No. 22 against the run. You can have success against Indy’s run defense.

Keep feeding Gibson

Washington Commanders running back Antonio Gibson (24). (AP Photo/Lon Horwedel)

This is a continuation of our first key. Washington needs to give Gibson at least 10-12 touches in the running game. But, as Gibson has proven on more than one occasion this season, he can impact the passing game. The former college receiver is outstanding in space and is a safe target for Heinicke. Keeping Gibson involved in the passing game makes Washington’s offense more dangerous. You can line Gibson up anywhere, and keeping him on the field with Robinson and/or J.D. McKissic gives offensive coordinator Scott Turner plenty of enticing options to keep the defense guessing.

Shut down Jonathan Taylor

Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor (28). Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Jonathan Taylor is one of the NFL’s best running backs. The best friend to any quarterback, especially a young one, is a strong running game. The Colts are going to commit to the run. The Commanders understand that for Indianapolis quarterback Sam Ehlinger to succeed, he needs the running game. Washington’s primary focus on Sunday should be committing an extra man to the box to ensure that Taylor doesn’t make life easier for Ehlinger.

Make Sam Ehlinger beat you

Sam Ehlinger #4 of Indianapolis Colts. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

Ehlinger is going to play a bit like Heinicke. He is going to make plays with his legs when things break down in the pocket, or nothing is open downfield. It’s up to Washington’s terrific defensive line to make Ehlinger nervous in the pocket. Defensive end Montez Sweat has been on a roll, and he’s facing an offensive line that has struggled to protect the quarterback all season. Defensive tackles Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne are also having outstanding seasons. The Commanders need their D-line to win up front and not let Ehlinger gain any confidence.

Story originally appeared on Commanders Wire