The Washington Post Sunday

Key matchups

- — Les Carpenter

After losing two quarterbac­ks in a little more than two weeks, the Redskins must find a way to get their season started again. They will do so at home against a team they beat, 20-13, on Oct. 28 in New Jersey.


Some fans were frustrated by quarterbac­k Alex Smith’s disinclina­tion to take chances, but his caution prevented him from making mistakes. A big reason the Redskins were 6-3 before his injury: Their turnover margin was among the best in the league.

One of the biggest criticisms of Mark Sanchez throughout his career is that he has been careless with his throws.


Each week, the Redskins talk about how they want to get their top running back going, and each week that doesn’t happen. Defenses have stacked the box against Adrian Peterson early, daring Washington to beat them in the air — something the Redskins have not been able to do. But Peterson remains the team’s best weapon, and he needs to be utilized more often.

He said his shoulder separation, aggravated in the previous game against New York, is not an impediment. A patched-up offensive line with two new starting guards could make it hard to run, however.


Giants running back Saquon Barkley has been phenomenal, posting 954 rushing yards, 602 receiving yards and 12 total touchdowns. In October, the Redskins held him to 38 rushing yards. He has rushed for more than 100 in each of the past three weeks and is a huge part of the Giants’ recent revival as New York has won three of its past four matchups.

If Washington can’t stop him early, it could be a long day for the defense.


For some reason, Washington’s defensive players seem to have forgotten how to tackle. This is a strange developmen­t because that was a huge strength early in the season. But in recent weeks, the team has allowed ballcarrie­rs to break free for huge runs both from scrimmage and after the catch.

The Redskins’ coaches don’t seem to have a good answer for what has happened to the tackling.


One of the team’s strengths has been its cohesion. Players talk about how close they are and how their locker room doesn’t have divisive cliques. But Smith, the quarterbac­k who helped build that bond, is gone, and so too is longtime backup Colt McCoy. The Redskins now are being led by a quarterbac­k who still doesn’t know everybody’s name. And their likely starting guards weren’t with the team a month ago.

So far, the unity seems to have held. Still, so much chaos swirls around this team that the best of bonds can easily fray.

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