Pocket Protector

It’s no secret that the Washington Redskins have struggled mightily with pass protection all season. One way to keep quarterback Jason Campbell upright and throwing longer than three yards at a time is with the use of motion and protection. Here is one example of how sending a tight end in motion can lead to a big play. The Redskins don’t have Chris Cooley anymore this season, but they could certainly use Fred Davis and Todd Yoder in some interesting two-tight end motion/protection sets to open things up. Washington’s line is a disaster, and the coaching staff needs to be creative to help Campbell.

--Doug Farrar of Football Outsiders and Smarter Stats

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Redskins’ secondary vs. Chargers QB Philip Rivers

In the last five games, Rivers has shown why he is rated one of the game’s top quarterbacks, throwing for more than 300 yards three times and never for less than 264 yards. In that span he has completed at least 72 percent of his passes three times and thrown for 10 touchdowns. The Redskins were once the top-ranked pass defense in the league but have been picked apart by NFC East quarterbacks the last two weeks.

Redskins’ right guard and tackle vs. pass rush

The Redskins offensive line has had a ceaseless number of combinations, leading to major protection problems. Jason Campbell was roughed up again by Dallas, and RT Stephon Heyer and RG Mike Williams both left with injuries. Williams will not play and Heyer is questionable, leading to a likely combination of Edwin Williams and William Robinson on the right side. Expect San Diego to attack that side early and often.

Redskins’ pass rush vs. Chargers’ offensive line

A major reason for San Diego’s success has been its effective pass protection. The Chargers have allowed just 25 sacks, sixth best in the NFL. One of the Redskins’ few positives has been the success of the pass rush, with DEs Andre Carter and Brian Orakpo among the league leaders in sacks and Albert Haynesworth providing a major push inside.

DeAngelo Hall vs. Vincent Jackson

Going hand-in-hand with the secondary’s battle with Rivers will be the matchup between the Redskins’ top cover cornerback, Hall, and the Chargers’ big-play wide receiver. Jackson has 1,167 yards and nine touchdowns and has hauled in at least five passes in each of the past three weeks — twice going for more than 100 yards. Hall returned recently from injury.

Redskins’ run game vs. Chargers’ front seven

RBs Quinton Ganther and Rock Cartwright may have shown more than Clinton Portis, but Washington’s run game has hit 100 yards just once in the last four games and has averaged more than four yards per carry just once. San Diego ranks 23rd against the run and has allowed at least 100 yards rushing in all but two games this season.

Redskins QB Jason Campbell vs. secondary

Campbell has one last chance to show that he is worthy of being the team’s franchise quarterback. He has taken a beating this season, and yet has put up career numbers in completion percentage (64.3), yards (3,337) and touchdowns (18) — though he also has highs in interceptions (15) and sacks (41). Tennessee’s Vince Young completed just 38 percent of his passes last week against San Diego’s 10th-ranked pass defense.

-- Paul Tenorio



When: 4:15 p.m., Sunday
Where: Qualcomm Stadium

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Get started early: The Chargers are a high-scoring team that scores most of its points in the final three quarters, averaging just six points in the first quarter. The problem is they allow just 3.6 points in the opening frame. Washington, which has struggled offensively for entire games, must score early to have a chance against a good pass defense.

Rush vs. rush: A key to the game will be Washington’s ability to slow San Diego’s pass rush and a major factor in that will be the running game. The Redskins have been unable to get going with Quinton Ganther, Marcus Mason and Rock Cartwright over the past few weeks and defenses are pinning their ears back and getting after Jason Campbell.

Pressure Rivers: Rivers’s uniform has remained relatively clean throughout the season — one reason he’s a top QB. One of the lone bright spots for the Redskins, however, has been the pass rush with Brian Orakpo and Andre Carter among the most dangerous duos in the NFL. If the Redskins can get to Rivers and force mistakes, they’ll have a chance to finish on a high note.

Stay energized: Washington has been pummeled by division rivals the last two weeks. With nothing to play for against a team that has wrapped up a playoff spot and has to be looking toward the postseason, Washington is going to have to focus to stay in the game — especially with several players knowing that they may be playing for jobs next season.

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