- John Keim, ESPN Washington Redskins reporter
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Five questions facing the Redskins:
Can Robert Griffin III have a second consecutive strong game? That hasn't happened yet this season, certainly not to the level Washington needs. The Redskins received favorable matchups against the Chargers and Griffin responded by throwing with more decisiveness and confidence than at any point this season. The Redskins need to continue focusing on the run, even though Minnesota ranks 11th in rush defense and eighth in yards per carry. That creates better passing opportunities for Griffin. He improved last week, but was coming off his worst game. The Vikings have struggled against the pass -- more from a series of short throws, than big killer passes. If Griffin is patient he'll be fine in this game.
Can they stop Adrian Peterson? They have in the past as Peterson has carried 44 times for 180 yards and two touchdowns in four career games against the Redskins (yes, he left one game early with the torn ACL). Washington has held him to 4.09 yards per carry; only four teams who have faced him at least twice have a lower average. So the answer is: yes. They need to make quarterback Christian Ponder beat them, so eight man fronts will be plentiful. But a bigger key will be swarming Peterson, who excels because of his vision and quickness at cutbacks. A one-on-one with Peterson often is deadly for a defense. For a guy with a bad team he's having a good year: seven touchdowns, 4.6 yards per carry and 711 yards.
Will the goal-line stand propel them? Momentum is a tricky thing in football, but confidence is not. The Redskins at least exited Sunday's overtime win over San Diego with more confidence. They had an abundance of it last season, even during their rough first nine games. But they have not played well enough to feel that confident in what they're doing this year. Last season's memory only takes you so far. But that goal-line stand saved their season; a loss would have ended any legitimate playoff talk. And if they go out and play well against a 1-7 team Thursday? Then, yes, you can say the goal-line stand turned this around.
Is Darrel Young now a touchdown machine? He was Sunday, but the way San Diego played up front dictated that's where the Redskins knew they should go. So they did and the Chargers more often than not were caught staring at running back Alfred Morris as Young bulldozed past them. The Chargers did not slant their line as much, leaving gaps for a straight-ahead runner such as Young. He's had success on those carries against other teams, notably the New York Giants. But when Young gets touches, it's more often not a new trend but rather a wrinkle specific for that defense. It also provides defenses something else to worry about in short yardage situations.
Has David Amerson turned a corner? No pun intended, of course. In some ways yes, and in other ways no. Amerson showed once again versus San Diego that he'll play physical -- his stop of Danny Woodhead at the goal line was huge, showing a great deal of competitiveness, too. He's a playmaker, which means you'll have to live with ups-and-downs. The interception he made was terrific; played it aggressive and was decisive. That same mindset led to him being burned on a double move later in the game for a touchdown. The talent is there, but for now there's good and bad.
Five questions facing the Redskins: Can Robert Griffin III have a second consecutive strong game? That hasn't happened yet this season, certainly not to the level Washington needs.