What we learned about the Redskins against the Buccaneers

Sports,NFL,Redskins,John Keim


Running back Alfred Morris continues to improve and did an excellent job Sunday setting up his blockers by pressing the hole. On his 39-yard touchdown run, for example, Morris ran hard to the right side, causing the linebackers to slide over a step and the safety on the other side to come up hard and fill an inside gap. A yard behind the line, Morris shifted to his left, and his teammates sealed the others inside to create the gap. Those cutback runs and the zone read fakes also result in arm tackle attempts near the line.

2 Joshua Morgan didn't start, but he still showed that he must be a part of the offense. Morgan finished with four catches for 62 yards, but it's more about the toughness with which he plays. Yes, he and Pierre Garcon need to be careful, but aside from Morgan's one (horrible) outburst, all he has done is make tough catches in traffic and block well. He had one holding penalty Sunday but also helped seal the inside on Morris' touchdown. Morgan is a reliable target on slants in tough situations. But he and Garcon have added a physical mindset that has trickled down to other receivers. It helps power the running game, and if Mike Shanahan thinks they're blocking to the whistle, he won't be disappointed in any penalties.

3 Fred Davis always will be a big part of this offense. There were some worries in the preseason when he caught just two passes and then in the first two games grabbed only four for 52 yards. But Davis is too important not to be heavily involved, and he has proved that with 11 catches for 160 yards the past two weeks. The threat of going deep with the wideouts always will open plays underneath for Davis. And his athleticism leaves him in mismatches.

4 The Redskins' defense has been plagued by the big-play syndrome for the past 20 games, so it's hard to imagine anything will change. They have allowed 22 plays of 20 yards or more this season, third most in the NFL. And they had 72 such plays a year ago, fifth most in the NFL. This isn't just about being aggressive. They've been saved by their ability to cause turnovers -- only Arizona (10), New England (11) and Atlanta (12) have forced more than Washington (nine).

- John Keim

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