Keeping Tabs on Washington's Team

Five Keys: What's Crucial in Ending Skins' Losing Streak

Washington has a good chance to win against weak Miami team

By Jack Anderson
|  Sunday, Nov 13, 2011  |  Updated 7:39 AM EDT
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5 Keys to Ending Skins' Losing Streak

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ST. LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 02: Roy Helu #29 of the Washington Redskins runs against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome on October 2, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Washington Redskins beat the St. Louis Rams 17-10. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

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The Redskins travel to Miami to take on the lowly Dolphins for a prime opportunity to get back in the win column. Here’s what they need to do for win number four.

1. If the Redskins have struggled to get interceptions, the Dolphins might not even know what one looks like anymore. Miami has just two interceptions this season, and opposing quarterbacks have a combined rating of 98.8 (third-highest in the league). John Beck won’t face a secondary much worse than the Dolphins 27th-ranked unit.

Beck will start against the team that drafted him but downplayed his return, instead preferring to focus on snapping Washington’s four-game losing streak.

“For me, right now, I’m just trying to do the best I can so we can win a football game,” Beck said. “I did play there when I first came into the league, but other than that, there’s no [feelings].”

2. Mike Shanahan told reporters he knew Brandon Marshall would be a starter after he saw his first practice while in Denver. Now he gets to coach against him.

Marshall has quietly put together a solid eight games. He’s eclipsed the 100-yard mark three times and hasn’t caught fewer than four passes in any game this season. Though he’s not the deep threat that so often burns the Redskins, Marshall should be the guy Jim Haslett would be wise to key on.

3. One thing the Redskins have been consistently good at this year is getting to the quarterback (third most sacks in the NFL). One thing the Dolphins have been consistently bad at is protecting the quarterback (third most sacks given up).

Given the anemic state of the offense, the Redskins defense must get those sacks and turnovers to set Beck up with good field position and win the field position battle, which they failed to do last week.

4. Speaking of field position, Sav Rocca has done his job, keeping opposing teams pinned in their own territory, but Brandon Banks hasn’t been the game-changer he was last year. After a strong start, he hasn’t been a major factor in the return game and has just one return of more than 40 yards.

“[As for] Brandon, every time he touches the ball, he wants to make a big play,” Shanahan said last week after Banks fumbled twice against San Francisco. “Sometimes he’s got to really think about the decisions he makes because you can’t fumble the ball on the three-yard line and you can’t turn the football over on a punt return.”

5. The Redskins haven’t even attempted to run the ball over the past few weeks. Granted, they’ve been playing a lot of catch-up, but it feels like Kyle Shanahan is resigned to throwing the ball an inordinate number of times.

I’d love to see Roy Helu continue to receive the bulk of the snaps because he has a higher upside than Ryan Torain, and getting him 20 carries would a nice indication that the Redskins are extending drives and keeping matters close on Sunday.

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