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Behind Enemy Lines: Redskins Preview

Posted Nov 15, 2013

Brian Tinsman is in his third season as the lead writer and editor for Redskins.com. Tinsman offers a preview of what Eagles fans can expect this Sunday when Washington takes on the Eagles ...

Robert Griffin III is coming off of his best performance of the season against Minnesota. How much has he improved since the Week 1 matchup vs. the Eagles?

“He’s been a totally different quarterback since the bye week. You’re starting to see that guy again who last year took the NFL by storm as a rookie. Even when the team hasn’t won games, he’s really been sensational as a playmaker. What you’re starting to see is that willingness to take a risk.

“Whether he’s running the ball or there is just the threat of him running the ball, it changes the way that a defense approaches this offense. I think without that threat early in the season – and you definitely saw it against the Eagles and through the first three weeks of the season – he was a bit of a sitting duck in the pocket and this offense didn’t really have a bite because you weren’t getting the mismatches. This offense is really predicated on the ability to mismatch, the ability to confuse a defense. Now, he has both facets of his game back and seems to have all the confidence in the world.”

How has rookie tight end Jordan Reed emerged as a go-to weapon for RGIII?

“He finished the first game against the Eagles with five receptions for 38 yards, but what you saw in that game was that he bailed Griffin III out on a lot of third-down plays. That role has grown for him, really exponentially, and he’s really developed into a very nice red zone target for this offense as well. Reed doesn’t have top speed. He’s not the biggest guy on the field, but he always manages to get open on his route at a time when Griffin III needs to get rid of the football, and that’s a quarterback’s best friend right there.”

Why has the Redskins defense struggled in 2013?

“This is a defense that has performed below expectations when you consider that there was the return of linebacker Brian Orakpo and safety Brandon Meriweather. They were supposed to bolster this defense that actually played pretty well down the stretch last season.

“It just seems to be that there is something that’s not quite right each week, and it seems to be something different in each game. This is a defense that is built to get takeaways. The Redskins have scored 68 points off of turnovers this year, which is pretty phenomenal. The defense starts to get exposed when the pressure on the quarterback that generates sacks and turnovers is not there. You’re seeing a Pro Bowl-worthy performance out of DeAngelo Hall at cornerback. He has three touchdowns this year, and a haul of turnovers, but what it seems to be is that this defense is pretty much doing what it’s expected to do.” 

The Redskins won seven straight games at the end of 2012 to win the NFC East. Does this team have that ability to do it again?

“I don’t think that it’s realistic to say that you are ever going to win six or seven games in a row. I just don’t think that anyone can really plan for that. That’s not a good position to be in, but it worked out for them last year.

“They have the benefit of having pretty much the entire roster back from the 2012 team, but what you’re going to need to see is execution in all facets of the game. Last year, this was a team that was coming together under a rookie quarterback. I think this year the expectations have grown with the team’s success last year. Does last year haunt them a little bit or motivate them? I think that’s really the question that is going to define the second half of the season.”

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