Keys to victory
1 Handle the interior » Tampa Bay defensive tackles Gerald McCoy and Roy Miller can be disruptive, which would prove troublesome to the zone running schemes as well as pressure in the pocket. Teams want to contain Robert Griffin III in the pocket by having their ends pinch, not getting too far upfield, and the tackles collapse the pocket. But if the tackles don't get push, it creates space for Griffin. But this is more about the run game. What makes it tough, too, is when Tampa Bay plays its linebackers close. Offensive linemen are forced to get off their combination blocks a little too fast.
2 Beware the blitz » Tampa Bay will come from everywhere and with just about anyone. They'll bring corner blitzes, two linebackers up the middle and safeties from eight yards deep. That puts a burden on the line to handle one-on-one assignments, but also on rookie running back Alfred Morris to handle the pickups, and rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III to make good, quick decisions. Griffin has been at his best when forced to make quick decisions.
3 Make Josh Freeman throw » Freeman struggled against Dallas because of the pressure the Cowboys put on him. Freeman has been bad on third downs and gets into a habit of throwing while backpedaling under pressure. With a clean pocket, Freeman will take shots downfield to Vincent Jackson, a big target, and Mike Williams. Freeman has completed only 51.3 percent of his passes (a combined 25-58 the past two weeks). This is why the Bucs are determined to run the ball.
Matchups to watch
CB DeAngelo Hall
His size will make it likely he'll cover Jackson a lot. Jackson would have eight inches on the other healthy corners.
WR Vincent Jackson
He's a brutal matchup at 6-foot-5. Jackson is averaging 20.4 yards per catch.
RT Tyler Polumbus
He struggled last week, both in protection and in run blocking. He needs a better outing.
LE Michael Bennett
He's tied for the team lead with three sacks. He'll sometimes rush from tackle.
QB Robert Griffin III
The Redskins will test the Bucs over the middle. Their linebackers play close to stop the run.
S Ronde Barber
He's new to safety and still learning the position. Can he con Griffin into throws?
State of the teams
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Like the Redskins, the Bucs have been tough to figure out thus far. They won their opener vs. Carolina, blew a lead at the Giants and lost at Dallas. They've been sporadic with how they've played, too. The Bucs have a new coach and less expectations. But they clearly want to play a hard-nosed style.
Any momentum from the season-opening win in New Orleans is lost, spoiled by big plays allowed. The Redskins can't afford a third straight loss with a tough stretch following (games against Atlanta, the Giants and Pittsburgh in the next four weeks). After two tough seasons, a bad start is unwelcomed.
This is it for the Redskins. They have a tough stretch upcoming, and if they want to avoid a disastrous season they need to win.
Redskins 20, Bucs 17