Five questions facing the Redskins

December, 18, 2013
12/18/13
9:00
AM ET
We're sticking to on-field topics. You can thank me later.
  1. Can Kirk Cousins have a repeat performance? Well, the turnovers were bad and can’t be glossed over because they were an issue in college, too (30 in four years). But overall he threw the ball well. And he’ll now face a second consecutive dreadful defense Sunday against Dallas. This will be the fourth straight game the Cowboys will have faced a backup quarterback. They’re 1-2 and they’ve allowed the backups – Green Bay’s Matt Flynn, Chicago’s Josh McCown and Oakland’s Matt McGloin – to complete a combined 71 of 105 passes for 902 yards, eight touchdowns and only two interceptions. Clearly, the Cowboys have problems with quarterbacks who have only four letters in their first name.
  2. Can the Redskins eliminate Dallas from playoff contention? Perhaps. It depends on what Philadelphia does against the Chicago Bears. If the Eagles win and the Cowboys lose, then Dallas is eliminated from the playoff race. But if Dallas wins it’ll come down to the last game of the season – and that hasn't worked out so well for the Cowboys the past couple of years.
  3. Has receiver Aldrick Robinson finally broken through? If nothing else he’s more productive these days. Robinson has caught a combined eight passes for 163 yards the past two games – and was targeted 13 times. He hurt Atlanta on underneath routes -- he's run them throughout the season, and was targeted on them, but it never clicked -- and then one deep ball when the safety was anticipating a shorter route off play-action. Not sure why. Robinson has only 14 catches for the season, but if he can finish strong, he can show that perhaps he can do more going forward. He’s not a No. 2 receiver, but the Redskins need a threat like him in their receiving corps. Josh Morgan is not a threat. His highest receiving total in Washington? Sixty-two yards. And he did not do a good job blocking Sunday in the run game. At all. His was not a productive free-agent signing.
  4. How many players will play their final home game in Washington? I’ll write more on this later in the week, but the Redskins have 15 potential unrestricted free agents on their current active roster, including three starting linebackers in London Fletcher, Perry Riley and Brian Orakpo. Their two starting corners, DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson, both are free agents, as is safety Reed Doughty. So the defense is in line for changes regardless of who’s coaching next season. Offensively, tight end Fred Davis and receivers Morgan and Santana Moss are pending free agents.
  5. How can you tell when teams have quit? It’s not because they don’t go out and play hard. You can’t play that way in a regular-season game or you’ll get hurt. Rather, it’s the preparation during the week that makes the difference. If you’re fighting for the playoffs it’s easy to watch another 30 or 60 minutes of film. What about when you’re 3-11? That preparation often makes the difference. The Redskins certainly did not have the look of a team that quit last week. Yes, Atlanta was bad, but the loss stemmed from turnovers, not the execution of the game plan.

John Keim

ESPN Washington Redskins reporter

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