WASHINGTON — Last month. Jay Gruden called the Tampa Bay game a Code Red game. After falling behind 24-0, the Redskins went out and won the game, mounting their biggest comeback in franchise history. Are we at another Code Red game this week?
The answer is technically no, but in terms of what is ahead for this team, this week is very, very important. After Sunday, the Redskins will face unbeaten Carolina next week followed by division games against the Giants and Cowboys, both at home.
So this week becomes that much more important. Here are some things to watch for
We’ve talked for weeks now about the lack of a running game for the Redskins lately. Part of the problem has been that they have faced the NFL’s top three run defenses in three of their last four games in the Giants, Jets and Patriots.
The good news this week is that the Saints are near the bottom of the league — 25th to be exact — giving up over 122 yards a game. So this is the week to get healthy in the run game. Jay Gruden said on Friday that new Center Brian de la Puente will not start this week; it will again be Josh LeRibeus.
Defending Drew Brees
The Redskins are facing their second elite quarterback in as many weeks after dealing with Tom Brady in Foxborough. Brees is second in the NFL in gross passing, having thrown for 2,763 yards. He’s averaging 345 yards a game, tossing 18 touchdowns and seven interceptions and completing 69 percent of his passes.
That being said, getting DeAngelo Hall back this week will be huge. He said he’s playing, but is listed as questionable, so if he is out there we’ll see how limited he will be. Bashaud Breeland and Chris Culliver don’t expect to have any limitations either, so that’s a plus. Also, we could see a change at safety. Jeron Johnson has pushed Trenton Robinson as of late and could see himself on the field (we could see rookie Kyshoen Jarrett). Will Compton may also get increased minutes in place of Perry Riley Jr.
Cousins and DeSean Jackson
The Saints have the number one offense in terms of total yards, but the 31st-ranked defense. It will be a nice change for the Redskins to see a team at the bottom of the defensive rankings, especially as guys are getting healthy. DeSean Jackson is getting close to being himself as far as speed and effectiveness. Last week he returned to the lineup and only had three catches for 15 yards. I would expect to see Washington take some shots down the field this week against a struggling New Orleans secondary. Jordan Reed could have a big week as well, and the running game should also benefit from it.
Protect home field
The Redskins are 3-1 at home so far this season and the Saints have struggled outdoors, losing both games they’ve played outside a dome this year. That should be a good sign for the home team. The Redskins are also aiming for their fourth straight win at home, something they haven’t done since the playoff run in 2012. Jay Gruden made it clear this week that you have to win your home games.
As far as Brees is concerned, he has struggled in outdoor games this year. He has a completion percentage of 62% outside compared to 72.2% inside. He has thrown 15 touchdowns and only five picks inside compared to three touchdowns and two interceptions outdoors. We’ll see if his numbers stay true to the trend this week.
Saints kicker Kai Forbath returns to FedEx Field, a place where he started this season. Forbath was cut and picked up by the Saints. Former Saints kicker Dustin Hopkins seems to have found a home in Washington. This could be fun if it comes down to a Forbath field goal attempt, right?
The Redskins are 3-5 for the fifth straight season. I don’t know what that means, but it’s a fun statistic. They have a chance to change the direction of their season with a win on Sunday. This is something that they haven’t been able to do in the past, with the exception of 2012 when they won seven in a row to win the division.