At 1-8, every remaining game for the Buccaneers needs to be played like the final game of the year. The urgency level, not just to win games but to improve in all phases, needs to be at a premium. Mathematically, the Bucs are still in it, but after nine games this team needs to be able to hang their hats on some positive strides of improvement. Playing in Washington presents some opportunities to improve and the Bucs need to take advantage of them, playing 100% for all 60 minutes and finishing strong in the fourth quarter. Here are some keys to getting a win in Washington.DEFENSIVE DISCIPLINE:
Robert Griffin III and the Washington offense are all about deception. Most of the time they will present a triple threat at the Bucs defense. It starts with the possibility of RGIII handing the ball off to RB Alfred Morris. If that option is not there, RGIII's second option will be to keep the ball and run it himself. Just when you think you have stopped one of those phases, RGIII will fake the ball to the RB, draw the linebackers up to stop the run and instead throw a pass. The Bucs must understand their gap assignments, the ends must focus on containment, the LBs and DBs must have eye discipline, not biting on fakes. With just one week to prepare, all the Buccaneers defenders need to be on the same page.DEFEND THE DEEP BALL:
For the defensive backs, processing information against Washington will be a challenge. The deception in the backfield will lure you down toward the line of scrimmage as Washington tries to establish their run game. If this happens, the opportunity for a deep ball opens up. The Bucs' secondary needs to find one man running deep in this game, #11 DeSean Jackson. Jackson has been winning over the top all season regardless of who's been playing quarterback for Washington. He averages 21.8 yards per catch and leads the NFL with nine catches for more than 40 yards. The secondary can't get caught peeking or Jackson will make them pay.FAST START, STRONG FINISH:
The Buccaneers offense has yet to find an identity through nine games. Week to week, the unit looks to find something to hang their hats on. Winning NFL teams consistently roll out a balanced offensive attack. That attack must be a four-quarter plan, not one-quarter plan. You can point your finger at many things with this Bucs offense in the past, but good teams play in the "now." At some point, this offense is going to click. I've never been a guy that disputes play-calling as a whole. I believe that if a coordinator calls a fullback dive ten times in a row, if it is blocked up properly and the offensive line imposes their will in the trenches, then that game plan can win the game. Every NFL defense presents certain problems, but the offensive formula should remain consistent. If an offensive line works in unison, if running backs get to the second level, if quarterbacks deliver catchable balls to their weapons, if ALL eleven guys execute and put together ALL four quarters, then the offense will succeed.
Get to know the key players on the Redskins before Sunday's game at FedExField.