With the Redskins defense hurting, the offense must evolve in Week 7

LANDOVER, MD - OCTOBER 15: Quarterback Kirk Cousins #8 of the Washington Redskins looks to pass against the San Francisco 49ers during the second half at FedExField on October 15, 2017 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
LANDOVER, MD - OCTOBER 15: Quarterback Kirk Cousins #8 of the Washington Redskins looks to pass against the San Francisco 49ers during the second half at FedExField on October 15, 2017 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

The Redskins offense hasn’t played as well as it set out to when the year started. So far, it hasn’t been a problem. But in Week 7, the offense needs to make the leap, and become what they can be.

The Redskins defense has started out the year strong. Through five games, they’re twelfth in the league in total yards, boasting an eighth-ranked run defense, far better than recent years. The transformation has been real, and it is very noticeable. But one thing can set all this progress back. And that is injury.

The middle part of the season hasn’t been kind to Washington, in terms of health. Cornerbacks Josh Norman and Bashaud Breeland are on their way to recovery, and both could be back this week. However, they’re not one hundred percent. And with the minor injures to Montae Nicholson and D.J. Swearinger, along with Jonathan Allen now reported to be out for at least eight weeks, there’s no guarantee this defense can keep up their torrid pace.

Because of this, it’s up to the offense to pick up the pace. There was plenty of optimism surrounding the unit coming into the year. The duo of Terrelle Pryor and Josh Doctson at wide receiver was expected to be one of the best, anchoring a passing unit that was one of the league’s most electric.

In contrast, the passing attack was expected to carry the running game. That hasn’t been the case through five weeks. Chris Thompson’s full emergence has given a new dynamic to the offense as a whole, and Robert Kelley and Samaje Perine have both performed admirably as the team continues to renew its commitment to the run.

Kirk Cousins has been stellar this year, but the offense as a whole has been merely decent. The wide receivers, save for Ryan Grant, have all been inconsistent in terms of production, and neither Pryor nor Doctson has been able to use their physical advantages to dominate the opposition, as they were expected to. One would hope that the team takes more shots through the air as Cousins continues to find his groove. But until they do that, this offense is not a top-tier unit. It’s merely a unit that can win close games.

That’s good, and all. But with a depleted defense, they need to be more. We’ve seen Cousins elevate the players around him this season. It’s been especially evident in their last two games. It’s refreshing to see Cousins take charge and be the franchise quarterback this team needs, but not even a franchise quarterback can do it on his own. Week 7 is the time. The most important game of the season, hands down. Win, and you stay in the NFC East race. Lose, and it’s all but decided. Good luck in your quest for a wild card bid. The team has had the privilege of a healthy, effective defense in recent weeks. With Allen gone, and countless others nursing day-to-day ailments, it’s reasonable to think we might see a drop off in performance this week against Carson Wentz and the high-flying Eagles’ offense.

It won’t be easy. The Eagles are one of the best teams in the league, and you could make an argument that they are, in fact, the best. But nevertheless, they are beatable. After all, it’s 2017. Everyone is beatable. The Redskins can beat the Eagles. But because their defense is missing key players, and could be due for more holes by Monday, their best chance lies not in Greg Manusky, but in Kirk Cousins, Terrelle Pryor, and the team’s underachieving offense.

It’s time. Time for the offense that held top five mantles the last two seasons to emerge once again. It’s time for Terrelle Pryor to dominate like he does in practice. It’s time for Robert Kelley to find his vision. And it’s time for Kirk Cousins to lead the Redskins to a win, against all odds, in the belly of the beast. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It’s what great teams do. The Redskins have the potential to be a great team. They simply need to evolve, like a metamorphic rock, experiencing terrible heat and overwhelming pressure, only to emerge new. And better.

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The Redskins will face the heat on Monday, And they’ll be under immense pressure. Perfect conditions for the offense to evolve and become what they can be. This isn’t just one fans wish. It needs to happen. And if the Redskins work hard in the coming days to stay focused and stay ready, it will.