1. Star at night
The Redskins are 4-18 in prime-time games since coach Joe Gibbs left in 2008. It’s like they’re the victim in a late-night crime show — CSI Redskins. This season, Washington lost to the New York Giants 32-21 at night on Sept. 24. The Redskins have prime-time games remaining against Dallas (Monday) and Philadelphia (Dec. 26). Last year, Washington beat Dallas 20-17 on “Monday Night Football” in the rivalry game that always draws big TV ratings. If the Redskins don’t solve their night woes, “Turn out the lights, the party’s over,” as former MNF broadcaster “Dandy Don” Meredith used to sing.
2. Learn how to travel
The Redskins are an NFL worst 1-18 on the road since Week 6 of 2013. They lost their last six games away from FedEx Field under coach Mike Shanahan, and Jay Gruden hasn’t done any better — going 1-7 last year and 0-5 so far this season. Washington, which is 5-1 at home this year, travels to Chicago (Dec. 13), Philadelphia (Dec. 26) and Dallas (Jan. 3). The Eagles and Cowboys may completely collapse by then and not pose much of a challenge, and Chicago (5-6) is oddly 1-4 at Soldier Field. Still, the arctic, mid-December conditions off Lake Michigan could frost Washington’s chances.
3. Produce pressure
The pass rush was supposed to be an asset, but linebacker Ryan Kerrigan has slowly worked his way back to full strength after offseason surgery and Junior Galette was lost for the season to injury in training camp. On Sunday, the Redskins got after Eli Manning — a QB who ravaged Washington during the Giants’ five straight wins in the series; they recorded three sacks and eight hurries. With a depleted secondary and so-so play by linebackers, Washington has no choice but to dial up the blitz. Luckily, the Redskins aren’t facing New England’s Tom Brady and Carolina’s Cam Newton anymore.
4. Calling long distance
DeSean Jackson, who strained his hamstring in Washington’s second series of the season and missed the next six games, has 12 catches for 212 yards and two TDs since his return. He had a 42-yarder against New Orleans, a 56-yard TD vs. Carolina and a 63-yard TD against New York where he was so far ahead he had time to dance along the goal line before scoring. Washington even tried him once as a punt returner against the Giants, hoping for a game-breaking play. Jackson is back in form and QB Kirk Cousins has the confidence in him to throw it deep.
5. Keep running
The mystery of the season was the disappearance of the running game for eight weeks. But the Redskins were finally playing with a big lead against New York and were able to commit to the ground game. Alfred Morris gained 78 yards on 23 carries — his biggest workload since opening day and more carries than he had in the previous three games combined. Morris has 1,011 career rushes and the pending free agent’s days as the Redskins’ prime back may end soon. Washington needs to use him often, while successor Matt Jones, who’s averaging just 3.6 yards per carry, learns to not fumble.
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