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Buccaneers vs. Washington: Three key matchups on offense

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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have to win these three matchups on defense to beat Washington on Sunday.

David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

LB Lavonte David vs. QB Robert Griffin III

Robert Griffin III hasn't been the best quarterback around this season, but he has been very, very explosive -- both through the air and on the ground. Griffin isn't a polished pocket quarterback right now, but he still has the ability to destroy a defense on any single play.

The Bucs are going to have to stop that by way of Lavonte David. Counter the most explosive offensive player with your most explosive defensive player, similarly to the way the Bucs used to stop Michael Vick with Derrick Brooks. David won't spy Griffin on every play, but he'll get that assignment a significant amount of the time, and his performance is going to be key to stopping the Washington offense.

To make matters more complicated, the Bucs are also going to have to be very disciplined on the read-option plays they'll no doubt see. Nothing's worse than seeing a quarterback run through your secondary because a linebacker hesitated at the point of attack due to a read-option fake.

S Dashon Goldson vs. CB Desean Jackson

DeSean Jackson is a bit of a one-trick pony, but he's really good at that one trick: running by defenders. Meanwhile, the Bucs have a pretty slow secondary, and one that's not been very good at defending the deep pass -- although they've improved in that area in recent weeks. Enter: Dashon Goldson.

Goldson has been losing playing time in recent weeks, but he's still the team's starting free safety. Which means he's a deep defender on most plays, and as a deep defender, he's going to be responsible for stopping DeSean Jackson after he's run past Johnthan Banks or Alterraun Verner -- something he'll do repeatedly, because neither player is fast enough to keep up with him.

And that's where we have a problem, because Goldson has been kind of useless on deep passes this season. If he's even in position to impact a play, he tends to simply lose the ball, or miss the tackle in an attempt to avoid an illegal hit. It's odd, but Goldson has 0 passes defensed this season. None! That had better change this week.

LB Mason Foster vs Middle-of-field

Mason Foster has been a problem in coverage this year. Not because he can't physically cover the middle of the field, but because for some reason, he won't. He'll stop backpedaling short of the depth to which he needs to drop, or he'll be manipulated by the quarterback's eyes, or he'll just...miss the ball.

Which is kind of a problem, because teams routinely target the Bucs down the middle of the field, with high rates of success. And Washington is going to do that, too. Especially with a healthy Jordan Reed. And Mason Foster is going to have to step up if they want to stop that passing attack.