Redskins face tough test against Buccaneers' RB Doug Martin

Doug Martin has rushed for 405 yards on 90 carries this season for the Buccaneers. John Korduner/Icon Sportswire

ASHBURN, Va. -- Three things I learned about the Washington Redskins' next opponent, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, after watching multiple games and talking to players and coaches:

Jameis Winston is playing like a talented rookie: And that means sometimes he looks like the first overall pick in the draft and other times he looks like a guy learning the position. He threw four interceptions in a loss against Carolina, a mixture of bad luck (tipped pass), bad decisions and inaccurate throws. It’s noticeable on third downs where Winston has thrown five of his eight picks this season. Against the Panthers, for example, he clearly made up his mind pre-snap where he was throwing and the Panthers noticed, too, as the cornerback sat on a route and came up with an easy pick-six. In one game, Winston blindly threw what nearly was a lateral as he was being sacked; a bad rookie move. But Winston also displays the talent that made him the first overall pick: the big arm, the ability to throw from the pocket. And he understands that he doesn’t need to do everything for the Bucs to win: In their two victories, Winston is a combined 27-of-40 with two touchdowns and no interceptions. At times he’s thrown with good anticipation (as on a red zone route against Jacksonville to receiver Mike Evans). He’s shown the ability to hold safeties with his eyes on deep routes.

Doug Martin is a problem: The Bucs’ running back started slow, but has posted excellent numbers the past two weeks. Martin will definitely bounce outside, as he did against Jacksonville and Carolina on more than a few occasions. He’s averaged 5.20 yards per carry the past two games; it was 3.83 the first three. The Bucs will run him up the middle, and he does a good job making defenders miss, averaging 2.40 yards after contact. If he’s bottled up, he will bounce and has the footwork to make it happen (it’s how he gained 39 yards on one run against Jacksonville). They will run him a lot out of I-formation with two tight ends (also a play-action look). And the Bucs have used him more in the screen game the past two weeks (he had five catches vs. Jacksonville). They used him on screens in the red zone, including one on a middle screen. The line has done a pretty good job at times blocking for him in the run game. Left guard Logan Mankins has been hurt and has been limited in practice this week. Fullback Jorvorskie Lane does a nice job blocking. Tight end Cameron Brate was moved back a few times in the run game. Right tackle Gosder Cherilus occasionally oversets in the pass game and can be beaten inside.

The defense pressures quarterbacks: Defensive lineman Gerald McCoy can still dominate thanks to his mixture of power and quickness. McCoy will line up all over, from either end to inside. And the Bucs will stunt quite a bit, often times on both sides, to apply pressure. McCoy’s quickness enables those stunts to often clog lanes. Tampa Bay coach Lovie Smith has been known as a cover-2 defensive coach, but the Bucs often play cover-3 or simply single-high looks. Linebacker Jacquies Smith already has four sacks and two forced fumbles; he will line up at left end on rush downs and has won with rip moves as well as moves to the outside. They have blitzed 39 times in the past three games combined, an increase over their first two games (a combined 12). Six of their 15 sacks have come via blitzes. The inside linebackers at times do a pretty good job selling a blitz before dropping, leading to interior linemen expecting something that doesn’t come. And they will send defensive backs off the edge. Two of their three interceptions have come off blitzes. Otherwise, their secondary is rather average and pass defense has been a problem much of the season.